Tottenham Hotspur hadn’t won at Old Trafford in almost five years. That doesn’t seem like a long time ago, but in Premier League terms it’s a different era. Tim Sherwood was managing Spurs when they won 2-1 on that day against David Moyes’ Manchester United.
Fast forward 1,699 days and the Lilywhites have finally won again at “The Theatre of Dreams. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham beat United 3-0 to continue their perfect start to the new season. Harry Kane bagged his first goal at one of the hallowed halls of European football, and Lucas Moura continued his incredible form by scoring a brace.
Pochettino’s team included Hugo Lloris, who was named as captain despite his drunk driving arrest last Thursday night. Danny Rose and Mousa Dembele both started for the first time this season. The rest of the team was as expected, but Davinson Sanchez moved to the bench as Poch opted to go play a 4-2-3-1 formation at Old Trafford.
Erik Lamela was selected to the bench, but had to be replaced by Luke Amos after being injured in warm-ups.
Jose Mourinho faced staunch criticism this week after his team lost to Brighton last weekend. He responded by dropping Eric Bailly and Anthony Martial from the squad completely, while making numerous other changes to the lineup. England internationals Phil Jones and Chris Smalling partnered in central defense, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof were on the bench, and Nemanja Matic made his first start of the year.
Despite the pre-game narrative, United almost scored seconds into the match. Fred’s early foray was representative of a half in which the Red Devils had the better chances. Spurs seemed off and the 4-2-3-1 didn’t seem to be working.
Romelu Lukaku should’ve opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he was played in by a terrible back-pass from Rose, who was quite rusty. Lukaku dribbled around Lloris but put the ball wide of an empty net.
United tested Hugo a few more times early, but Spurs did eventually show up for the game. Dele Alli wasted a great chance in the 25th minute when he hesitated in the box after catching Matic in possession.
Craig Pawson was also wasteful. Spurs looked to have a clear penalty when Lucas Moura was shoved over in the penalty area by Phil Jones. Nothing was given.
Mourinho’s side had another opportunity to take the lead in the 34th minute when Paul Pogba forced a save from his French teammate. United collected the rebound and Antonio Valencia eventually delivered a dangerous cross right on the six-yard box. Luckily, the ball went past the post after ricocheting off Jan Vertonghen.
Pochettino became quite aggravated in the final moments of the half as Spurs again squandered their chances. They wasted quite a few numerical advantages in attack due to some mistimed passes and conflicting runs.
The second half couldn’t have been more of a contrast. Tottenham were clinical.
De Gea had a few warning shots in the opening moments of the period, and then Spurs made one count. Harry Kane rose above Jones on a corner kick and connected to produce an immaculate header that flew into the far corner.
The frantic pace continued as United almost struck back right away. Lukaku was played through but Lloris got down well to deny his effort.
Then, just a moment later, Spurs made it two. Christian Eriksen took advantage of an uneven United backline and was found by Kieran Trippier. Lucas bursted into the box just as Eriksen’s cross did, and he met it sweetly to finish low and past De Gea.
The second goal changed the game. Spurs decided to sit back and defend more than they had been. United’s response was expected. Mourinho made subs and pleaded with his team to up their intensity.
They almost got one back in the 61st minute, but Toby Alderweireld made a magnificent tackle to thwart Jesse Lingard’s intrusion.
Questions are often asked about Spurs’ mentality in big games like this, but they never really looked like giving up the lead. They were quite comfortable in seeing things out.
Lucas Moura was the best player on the pitch. The Brazilian winger showed it time and time again, including in the 84th minute when he put the cherry on top. He took the ball on a counter-attack and embarrassed Smalling. As the defender fell to the ground our new hero surged into the box and smashed a shot into the side netting.
The traveling Tottenham fans erupted once again. They then had the joy of spending the last few minutes of the match taunting Mourinho, and of course, taunting Alexis Sanchez. For Jose it was his biggest home defeat of his career in any competition.
It was a massive win for Spurs that saw them move to second in this early edition of the Premier League table.
Up next, a date with Watford this Sunday.