In front of a record crowd of 81,978, Tottenham Hotspur won a crucial battle in the race for Champions League spots, putting on a masterclass in defense while defeating Manchester United by the score of 2-0.
We didn’t have to wait long for first blood in this match. Spurs took the opening kick back to Ben Davies, who throttled a long ball deep to Harry Kane. Kane flicked it on to Dele, who played a little backheel to Christian Eriksen. The Danish International calmly curled it home past a standing De Gea, making it 1-0. Officially, it took 11 seconds to score, just a second behind our own Ledley King’s record of 10 seconds for fastest goal.
United responded with a few attacks almost immediately after, the biggest threat coming on a Jesse Lingard chance that was stopped by Hugo Lloris. It was a nervy first few minutes and set the pace for the rest of the match.
The match settled in after fifteen minutes. Spurs were happy to press when they could, but tightened up on defense and worked the counter a few times. Dele Alli found himself free in the 26th minute on a lovely long ball by Kane, but he had no help immediately and his attempt to find Heung-Min Son was cleared by Smalling.
In the 29th minute, Spurs found their second goal with a little help from the United back four, whose first half was less than stellar. Kieran Trippier opted to push forward on a turnover and played a low cross into the box for Kane. Phil Jones decided to try and clear it with his right foot instead of his left, and this decision deflected the ball top shelf into the net. Own Goal struck again, and it was 2-0 Spurs.
Spurs had a penalty shout just a couple minutes later as Dele found himself just a few yards from net, but was tackled by Antonio Valencia. Replay showed that Valencia may have gotten ball, but clearly contacted Dele in the process. It probably should have been a penalty, but Andre Marriner wasn’t interested and play continued on.
A chance to make it 3-0 came to Spurs in the 40th minute. A foul on the right flank gave Spurs a free kick. Eriksen whipped in the effort and found Eric Dier’s head, but there was too much power on it and Dier put it out to touch.
Spurs had one more chance before the end of the half. After a stoppage due to a hard foul by Antonio Valencia on Son, Spurs played a long ball to Kane. The English International managed to get it somewhat under control but never got his feet under him for balance. The attempt was good, but De Gea saved it rather easily. Both sides seemed content to play it out from there, going into the half with Spurs up 2-0.
The second half started with both teams getting back into the same pace as the first half. A couple of half chances for both sides in the first ten minutes led to nothing, but United had a real chance to cut the lead in half in the 55th minute. Lingard found Romelu Lukaku in the penalty area. Even at an awkward angle, the Belgian striker rifled a shot on target, but Lloris was up to the task and parried it high over the crossbar to keep his clean sheet for the time being.
Spurs kept the pressure up and United seemed happy to give the plenty of space to dribble and sit back, even being down two goals. Eriksen took advantage of that space in the 65th minute as he pushed up and fired a rocket from 20 yards. The shot had a chance but knuckled just wide of the post. The ensuing possession saw Ben Davies get a crack with a low rocket but was easily denied by De Gea.
A big chance for Spurs came in the 69th minute. Some simple passing led to a two on one with Sonny and Kane in on De Gea. Son went for goal instead of crossing to Kane for a tap in, and the decision ended up being a poor one as De Gea parried the ball away to touch. If Son plays to Kane, it’s 3-0 and this match is put to bed.
There wasn’t much else of note to talk about in the last twenty minutes other than Spurs doing a fantastic job of killing the match off. The press activated at the right times and chocked off any chance of United breaking free on a counter. With no other threats coming, Spurs were happy to take some pot shots at De Gea but ultimately settled for three points and that 2-0 scoreline.
Thoughts on the match
- The second fastest goal in Premier League history changed this match. United had to go for it right off the bat and Spurs didn’t have to deal with a Mourinho special.
- The defense was magnificent. Vertonghen and Sanchez had several key tackles to kill attacks at the right moments and Hugo was fantastic.
- Kieran Trippier had a weird but solid match. The first ten minutes he spent getting killed on 1-2 passes, but a simple shift of Eriksen a bit deeper and Dier sliding more to the right gave him some help. From that point on, he had no issues and his passing in attack was great.
- The press was fabulous. United’s back four was frustrated for most of the match, and it showed. Jones spent more time yelling at Matic and Smalling than he did defending.
- Harry so desperately wants that 100th goal, but today was not the day for him.
- Dier and Dembele had fun wrecking United’s midfield. I’ve never seen Matic play a match as terrible as that one.
- With the win, Spurs pull within five points of second place and are just two points out of third and fourth. The race is truly on for those Champions League spots.
- Bring on Liverpool.