It was a day of celebration as Tottenham Hotspur played their last ever match at the 118-year old White Hart Lane on Sunday. Their opponents were Manchester United, historically a difficult opponent for Spurs. This time, it didn’t matter: Spurs got goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane and cruised to an relatively easy 2-1 win over United to clinch second place in the league and see off the Lane in style. Wayne Rooney got the consolation goal for United.
Tottenham Hotspur started the match with the more or less the same lineup they’ve used for the past few league matches. Spurs kicked off in a 4-2-3-1 with Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier in the midfield pivot, but the big surprise was Kieran Trippier getting the start at right back in place of Kyle Walker, who started the game on the bench. United opened defensively in a 4-3-3, but with a central midfielder dropping deep, essentially playing a back five.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric at the Lane as the match kicked off, and it didn’t take long for Spurs to capitalize on the incredible fan support. In just the sixth minute, Victor Wanyama opened Spurs’ account off of a short corner from Christian Eriksen. Ben Davies fired in a lofted ball from the left corner of the box, Victor skied over Wayne Rooney, and fired a powerful header past David De Gea to put Spurs up 1-0. The crowd, predictably, exploded.
Son Heung Min nearly made it two for Spurs in the 20th minute after he got on the end of a through-ball and was one-on-one with De Gea. Unfortunately, he tried for power and his shot went straight at the keeper and was parried away.
The first half settled into a comfortable rhythm for Spurs, and they enjoyed the bulk of the ball and the plurality of chances on goal. Spurs had several opportunities to get a second goal, including shots from Eriksen, Son, and Harry Kane, but De Gea made a number of good stops.
Instead, the first half was characterized more by the amazing home support. Spurs fans were in full voice, singing the whole time, and not just about current players. There were songs about Paul Gascoigne, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Stefan Freund, and more as the supporters enjoyed their last afternoon out at the Lane.
Harry Kane closed off the first half with a shot from an acute angle that was again parried away by De Gea. It was a comfortable first 45 minutes, and Spurs took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
The second half started with no changes to Spurs’ lineup.
Much like the first half, it didn’t take Spurs long to get on the scoring sheet. In the 49th minute, Eriksen put a gorgeous free kick into the box, and Kane was right there to stick a leg out and poke the ball past De Gea to put Spurs up 2-0. Once again, the crowd exploded.
Mourinho responded by bringing on Heinrik Mikhytarian and Ander Herrera to try and salvage the match, but Spurs still managed to keep ahold of the ball for much of the second half while the fans sung their hearts out.
However, United wasn’t going to make it that easy. Wayne Rooney scored against the run of play in the 72nd minute after Kieran Trippier got skinned, halving Spurs’ deficit, quieting the crowd, and making hearts beat a little faster at the Lane.
Spurs eventually brought on Mousa Dembele to add a little spine to the midfield, and Kyle Walker eventually came on after Kieran Trippier suffered a hard fall when going up for a challenge.
United kept looking for an equalizer, and nearly got it in extra time as Marcus Rashford put a counterattack goal just wide. Instead, Spurs brought on Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, saw off the last five minutes relatively easily, and full time blew on a 2-1 Tottenham victory. It was Spurs’ 24th win of the season and the last ever win at White Hart Lane. Fans swarmed the pitch in the rain in celebration.
- There was some concern about Mourinho Mourinhoing this match up and going for a cynical 0-0 draw. That may have been the plan, but it didn’t really matter, as Spurs were clearly better than United’s B-team on the day.
- Wanyama’s header was thunderous, and it was all the better that it came at the expense of Wayne Rooney, who was rooted to the ground.
- You just knew Kane was going to score. He’s not the kind of player to let an occasion like this go by and not get on the scoresheet.
- This might have been United’s B-team, but they still phoned it in. They had no chance from the very beginning, and everyone knew it.
- Give credit where due: Rooney’s goal was an excellent finish, built on a pretty derpy defensive breakdown on Spurs’ part.
- The win means Spurs not only finish second but finish their last season at the Lane undefeated at home. I can’t think of a better way to send the old girl out.
- There were tears on my laptop as the final whistle blew. I’m not afraid to admit it. Thank you, White Hart Lane, for everything. You will be missed.