Tottenham Hotspur went to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United without their best player in Harry Kane, and for much of the match it was honors even. However, Anthony Martial came off the bench to fire an 83rd minute winner past Hugo Lloris and giving the three points to the Reds.
Although they were without Kane, who missed the match with a slight hamstring strain, Tottenham started in their usual back three formation. However, that formation was minus Davinson Sanchez, who started the match on the bench. Spurs began with Eric Dier between Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, and a midfield of Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen in the middle. Serge Aurier and Ben Davies were the wing backs, and Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli were up top.
The early action in the first half was mostly in United’s favor. Mourinho’s men smothered midfield and tried to disrupt Spurs’ passing lanes while hitting long balls towards Romelu Lukaku. Spurs found life difficult in the opening 10 minutes or so as United kept them from pushing forward centrally.
United frequently tried to find Lukaku with long balls from deep, and succeeded on a few occasions, forcing solid tackles from Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier.
Lukaku had the first opportunity for United just two minutes into the game, putting a square ball across goal to an open Marcus Rashford, but Hugo Lloris was there to smother the cross.
A few minutes later, Rashford had a bouncing free kick from outside the box that tested Lloris as well, but Hugo was there to parry the shot away. Hugo also got a hand to the ball on the ensuing corner but was able to keep trouble at bay.
Tottenham settled into the match after the opening minutes and started enjoying more possession as the half went on. Spurs’ first half chances were few and far between, and you’d expect the expected goals for that half would be low. One of the better ones came midway through the half after a defensive gaffe from United. Phil Jones bumped into David De Gea, who spilled the ball right in front of goal. Moussa Sissoko found himself open with a wide open net but he skied it, Roman Pavlyuchenko-style, over the bar.
Eric Dier also had a volley off of a Spurs corner that stretched De Gea slightly, but for the most part it was honors even. The most eventful moment came after Dele Alli squared up to Ashley Young in midfield; both players got a stern talking to from official Jon Moss.
The first half ended scoreless.
The second half began with more of the same, as both sides declined to make any substitutions at the break.
United had the bulk of the early chances in the opening part of the half. Ashley Young flashed a shot across the face of goal in the 50th minute, but Hugo was there to collect.
Then, a scary moment for Spurs four minutes later as Lloris spilled a routine save, but Ben Davies was there to hack the ball away. In the ensuing possession, the ball fell to Lukaku in front of Spurs’ goal but he whiffed on the chance and Spurs were able to scramble the ball clear.
Pochettino decided to roll the dice in the 60th minute, making a rare double substitution. Fernando Llorente and Mousa Dembele came in, replacing Son Heung-Min and Moussa Sissoko.
There were few chances for either side, but United had the bulk of them. Antonio Valencia had a rocket of a shot from the top of Spurs’ box that went just over the bar. Minutes later, Lukaku put another ball across the face of goal, but a diving Lloris got a hand to the ball to tip it away.
Spurs’ best chance came in the 78th minute. Christian Eriksen floated a ball over United’s defense to an onrushing Dele Alli. He got a boot to the ball, but his poked shot drifted just wide of the post.
Ten minutes before time, Lukaku had his best opportunity of the match, but his powerful header from a Jesse Lingard cross careened off the post and out.
It looked for a while like Spurs were going to earn a deserved result at Old Trafford, until United’s breakthrough came in the 81st minute off of a goal kick. Anthony Martial, a late substitute for Marcus Rashford, got the ball from a Lukaku flick, beat Eric Dier who was caught ball watching and was able to poke the ball past Lloris to put United up.
United nearly got a second just before time, with Spurs pushed up high on a corner. Lingard was one on one with Lloris, but he fluffed his chance and put the ball high.
United brought on Matteo Darmian in stoppage time to see of the match, and it was enough as the game ended 1-0 to the home side.
- This might have been Mourinho’s United, but they weren’t trying to sit deep and absorb pressure. United were coming out and trying to attack through Lukaku and Rashford early and stretching Spurs’ defense.
- Did you see that big s—t-eating grin on Dele’s face when he was squaring up with Ashley Young? He was loving every second of it. Isn’t he just the best?
- United did a very good job of nullifying Spurs’ wingbacks and forcing Spurs to play through the middle. Harry Winks had a good match, but for a lot of the game they couldn’t provide that creative spark to beat United’s defense.
- The addition of Moose tipped the balance of the midfield towards Tottenham’s favor in the second half. Spurs started to assert themselves a little more, and it was noticeable.
- United’s goal came from Spurs just switching off the slightest bit defensively, which is unfortunate considering Spurs’ center backs had a very good match overall. You can’t say that the goal wasn’t coming, though — United were pushing for the go-ahead in the minutes leading up to Martial’s strike.
- Moussa Sissoko was shocking today. Serge Aurier was pretty not great too.
- Would Kane have made a difference? Probably. He’s the kind of player that can turn half chances into chances. We missed him out there. Llorente and Son just can’t recreate what Kane gives us.
- A disappointing loss. A draw would’ve been plenty fair. Let’s hope Kane is healthy for Madrid on Wednesday — I don’t want to think about a three-match losing streak.