Sandro and Dembele outrun and outmuscle creaky United
Manchester Utd 2 Tottenham 3:PERHAPS THIS result had been coming – for a creaky Manchester United and for Tottenham Hotspur, who ended 23 years without a league win here thanks to a pacy, muscular performance that punched holes in Alex Ferguson’s side.
When Shinji Kagawa scored the third of three goals in three minutes at the start of a breathless second half, Spurs put on the tin helmet for the remaining 37, plus four that would cause Ferguson to continue a favourite theme in his post-match briefing.
After Andre Villas-Boas’s vibrant side had survived, the Scot complained that the extra 240 seconds were an “insult”. It was before the added time that Ferguson witnessed the true reason his side lost.
Spurs were too big and too fast for United. In Sandro and Mousa Dembele, Villas-Boas has midfield heft and speed, with the latter’s heels possessing a turbo booster that glides him away from opponents. The Belgian creates as well as destroys, as he did on 32 minutes when taking Sandro’s pass just outside the area, shifting into top gear to leave Paul Scholes watching, then finding Gareth Bale.
The Welshman is the prime speedster in this Spurs side. The way he tore through United’s non-existent midfield and left Rio Ferdinand flailing in a different postcode before finishing right-footed beyond Anders Lindegaard terrified the home team.
That was Tottenham’s second. Their opener also derived from pace. This time Jan Vertonghen sped down the left and the hapless Ferdinand could not stop him unloading a finish that was deflected past Lindegaard. In front of Roy Hodgson and his assistant Gary Neville, Ferdinand was having an afternoon to prove the England manager correct all along.
“Football reasons” was Hodgson’s explanation for leaving Ferdinand out of the Euro 2012 squad, rather than his being unable to share a dressing room with John Terry. On this evidence Hodgson is prudent. Spurs’ third came when Jermain Defoe barged Ferdinand aside down the left and, after Bale received and shot, Lindegaard’s save went straight to Clint Dempsey, who scored.
On Thursday Hodgson announces his next England squad for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino and Poland. After Ferguson stated he wants Ferdinand to concentrate on his club career, this display means the 33-year-old may not have a decision to make.
Wayne Rooney, who came on for the ineffective Ryan Giggs at half-time, will be chosen by Hodgson. The striker created Nani’s 51st-minute strike that began the three-in-three-minutes goal rush, and he also hit the frame with a free kick.