Young provides clinical touches
Tottenham 1 Manchester United 3:Manchester United moved two points from the Premier League summit after condemning Tottenham to their first home defeat since August with a brutal display of clinical finishing.
Tottenham dominated large parts of the game but were lacking in creativity and when given the opportunities, United were simply devastating.
Spurs thought they had taken the lead when Louis Saha’s shot flew in off Emmanuel Adebayor but referee Martin Atkinson ruled it out for a handball and from then on, the visitors put the home side to the sword with a display that showed exactly why they are firmly in the hunt for their 20th league title.
Wayne Rooney rose to nod home an Ashley Young corner on the stroke of half-time and the former Aston Villa man then went on to add two in the second half — the first an acrobatic scissor kick, and the second a world-class curling effort from 25 30 yards.
Jermain Defoe pulled one back for the hosts with three minutes left but the game had already long gone by that point.
Alex Ferguson admitted United had been forced to dig deep as they overcame a poor first-half display. Wayne Rooney’s header was against the run of play and a brace from England team-mate Ashley Young in the second period took them back to within two points of City with 11 games left.
The win also widened the gap between United and third-placed Spurs to 11 points, all-but ending the Londoners’ faint title hopes as Jermain Defoe’s late consolation was as good as it got for them.
Emmanuel Adebayor also had a first-half goal disallowed with the score-line goalless, apparently for a handball after the ball struck him while standing virtually on the goalline.
Ferguson felt his team rode their luck but believes their determination to win despite not playing at their best underlined their credentials to defend the title. “It was a great performance by Tottenham and maybe we got our tactics wrong in the first half.
“In the second half we improved, we told them at half-time to get pushed up on their back four and not let them build up their play. After the second goal we played very well. We had a bit of luck, and we scored right on half-time with our first shot on goal.
“We’ve played all the big teams since January, it was a really busy spell and we’ve come through that and played well in most of the games. We showed a determination to get the result, the goalkeeper (David De Gea) made a fantastic save in the second half.
“Tottenham are a very good team and this is only their second defeat at home since the start of the season. It was a massive result and a massive performance from our defenders.”
The Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on April 30th looks ever more like the title decider, and Ferguson added: “We know exactly what we have to do. You can drop surprise points and I think both sides will, but the important thing is to drop less points than our opponents. A battling performance today tells you that we are up for it.”
Two-goal Ashley Young admitted: “In the first half we were not at our best. All the players knew we weren’t playing to full potential, our passing game wasn’t on form. We were lucky to go in 1-0 up and we kicked on from there. It was vitally important to get the three points.”
Asked if the April 30th encounter with City at the Etihad Stadium was now shaping up to be vital, the England winger added: “Who knows? We’ll take each game as it comes.”