Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford did not go according to plan.
Spurs were unimpressive in a match that was decided by a second half penalty scored by Marcus Rashford. The United forward had a brace as Man U won 2-1 in Mourinho’s first game against the club that sacked him this month just a year ago.
It was the first loss for the Portuguese boss since he took over at the club following the dismissal of Mauricio Pochettino.
Mourinho opted for a midfield that is not exactly the favorite combination of Spurs fans. Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko formed a partnership there, while the team also featured Jan Vertonghen at left back, Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld in central defense, and a start for Lucas Moura up front on the right.
It was a rough start for the visitors, who conceded in just the sixth minute of play. Sanchez couldn’t clear at the back, which allowed Marcus Rashford to run onto a loose ball. Paulo Gazzaniga will feel he could’ve done better, as he was unable to keep the bouncing effort out of the net.
United had an early lead for their under-pressure manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer.
The home side continued to press and prod as they dominated the first half. Rashford was at the center of a lot of it, but they gave Tottenham trouble all over the pitch.
Gazzaniga had to make a kick-save to deny Mason Greenwood after the 18-year-old was found via a cutback on a break. Moments later, the Argentine got up to tip a dipping shot from Rashford onto the crossbar.
Whatever the Lilywhites were trying to do, it clearly wasn’t working, but they were bailed out a few minutes before the break by a spectacular solo effort.
Again, it was Dele Alli who produced an amazing display of skill to find a goal. He established position under a ball that had popped up in the box, and his first touch was a flick that beat the defenders and allowed him to place a ball into the side netting.
It was classic Dele. He hasn’t been always been at his best over the last year, but he seems to be back to his old self under Mourinho.
The second half started with a punch in the face for Spurs.
Sissoko got too close to Rashford in the box, and the England international went down under the slightest contact. He then stepped up and converted after a brief VAR review could to nothing to overturn what looked like a soft penalty.
The game slowed down a bit as Spurs tried to find a second equalizer. Both Christian Eriksen and Tanguy Ndombele were brought off the bench in an attempt to change things.
United forced Gazzaniga into a few standard saves, but they primarily focused on keeping a strong shape. They stifled Spurs attack and significantly restricted their opportunities.
Serge Aurier had a few chances to deliver crosses from the right, but they were either usually thwarted by David De Gea coming out to claim.
The last chance was taken by Dele when he controlled a long ball into the box, but De Gea stopped his shot.
Defeat leaves Spurs well off the top four. The table is so fluid, especially in the middle, but for the moment they sit in eighth place.