Man United 2 Tottenham 3: Spurs cling on to take win at Old Trafford for first time since 1989
18:50 GMT, 29 September 2012
Tottenham repelled a second-half onslaught as Andre Villas-Boas masterminded their first away win over Manchester United since 1989.
Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale gave the visitors a deserved half-time lead, but not for the first time at Old Trafford in recent years Tottenham were hit by a fierce second-half fightback.
However, Clint Dempsey scored in between efforts from Nani and Shinji Kagawa to keep Spurs in front, and after Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick had struck the frame of Brad Friedel's goal, Tottenham clung on for the final whistle.
There it is! Clint Dempsey scored Tottenham's third goal at Old Trafford
Man United: Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand (Hernandez 90+2min), Evans, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Nani, Kagawa (Welbeck 79min), Giggs (Rooney 46min); Van Persie.
Subs not used: De Gea, Wootton, Anderson, Cleverley.
Goals: Nani 51, Kagawa 53.
Tottenham: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele (Huddlestone 83min); Lennon, Dempsey (Sigurdsson 69min), Bale; Defoe (Dawson 90+2min).
Subs not used: Lloris, Falque, Townsend, Mason.
Goals: Vertonghen 3, Bale 32, Dempsey 52.
Referee: Chris Foy.
Premier League results, fixtures and table
The result ended one of English
football's longest winless streaks, as well as raising more questions
over United's ability to regain the Barclays Premier League title as
they slipped four points behind leaders Chelsea.
Tottenham have flattered to deceive
in this fixture down the years, so much so that at no point did their
two-goal cushion look secure.
They have even held a two-goal lead
at half-time, as they did on Saturday, and got swept away by a second-half
deluge. On that occasion, in 2009, United had Cristiano Ronaldo leading
the thrilling comeback.
There was to be no such drama on this
occasion, and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson may be left to reflect on a
lack of physical presence in his midfield, which more than anything
else was an area ruthlessly exposed by a rampant Tottenham.
There were only two minutes on the
clock when Vertonghen strode between Nani and Carrick, drove into the
United box and found the corner of Anders Lindegaard's net.
Happy Andre Villas-Boas was delighted when his side won the match
…And so were his players as they applauded the travelling fans
The Belgian's shot did take a
significant deflection off Jonny Evans, but Vertonghen deserved his
slice of good fortune for the adventure he had shown to take himself
into a scoring position in the first place.
Rather than sting United into action, the early goal merely encouraged their visitors.
Bale revelled in the open spaces that
opened up between Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, with the former
looking all of his 37 years at time during a below-par first-half
When Robin van Persie lost possession
on the edge of the Tottenham area, Mousa Dembele thundered upfield with a
purpose that left Scholes looking like he was treading water.
Bale took up the baton from his
team-mate and duly sped past Ferdinand and into the box before beating
Lindegaard rather too easily to make it 2-0.
Having resisted the temptation to name
Rooney alongside Van Persie for the first time, Ferguson could delay
the inevitable no longer and brought on the England man for Ryan Giggs
at the break.
What a strike: Gareth Bale scored a classy goal to double Tottenham's lead
Close call: Both sides went hell-for-leather to take the win at Old Trafford
The move triggered a burst of three
goals in four minutes, during which any semblance of a game plan for
either side was completely ripped up.
Given the history of this fixture, it was no real wonder United should get two of them.
Rooney provided the assist for Nani's close-range effort, curling a low cross to the near post that invited the clinical finish.
Van Persie could claim the credit for
United's second as he threaded a precise pass through the Tottenham
defence that allowed Kagawa to beat Friedel.
Just checking: Sir Alex Ferguson took his United players in at 2-0 down at half-time
From the off: Jan Vertonghen scored an early goal to get the ball rolling
Crucially, though, Tottenham struck
their third goal in between United's brace, Bale once again exposing
poor defending as he surged forward, and when Lindegaard was unable to
hold the Welshman's low shot, Dempsey was on hand to slot home the
In Rooney, though, United retain that old slugger's instinct.
The striker thudded a brilliant
free-kick against a post before Van Persie's dismal attempt to finish
off a Carrick pass suggested again that it might not be United's day.
It was credit to Tottenham that they
managed to clear their heads quickly enough to stand firm against the
incessant wave of attacks that continued to come.
William Gallas clattered into a post
such was his determination to keep Nani's far-post cross away from
Rooney, then Friedel turned away a Scholes thunderbolt.
Carrick's header almost sneaked in but dropped against angle of post and bar instead.
United continued to surge forward, but the equaliser would not come.
And the sight of Evans hobbling off was an unhappy post-script given the defensive problems Ferguson has already encountered.
Call it a comeback: Nani pulled a goal back for United after half-time
Back in it: Shinji Kagawa got United back in the match by reducing Tottenham's lead to one goal