Tottenham still lacking killer instincts

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United

A clean slate, refreshed, revitalised, but ultimately again left a little frustrated. Tottenham Hotspur returned to Premier League action and despite looking a little more solid and organised, Jose Mourinho’s men had to be content with a point after a dynamic finale from Manchester United in N17.

United had strung together an eleven-match unbeaten sequence ahead of the lockdown – a stark contrast to the North Londoners, without a win in six in all competitions.

But with almost a full complement, Jose Mourinho saw this as a reset for his troubled charges. Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Moussa Sissoko returned refreshed, and injury-free, while even the pragmatic Portuguese chief seemed a little more chipper in the lead up to what in normal circumstances is one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the footballing calendar.

Nevertheless, it was United to started the sharper. Hugo Lloris used his feet to good effect to thwart Marcus Rashford following a hashed clearance from Davinson Sanchez, while Bruno Fernandes tested the French stopper with a drilled, angled attempt as Spurs struggled to make an initial impact.

However, midway through the opening period, and with their first meaningful foray forward, Spurs snatched the advantage.

Steven Begwijn powerfully serged forward before sending in thumping right-footed strike which David de Gea could only help on its way. In truth, the Spanish keeper will believe he should have done better, not that the Dutch winger gave a jot as he wheeled away in delight.

The proverbial tide had turned. De Gea redeemed himself a little, turning over Son’s header after the lively Bergwijn had fashioned an opening from the right. Meanwhile, Harry Winks fired over as Tottenham’s tempo continued to increase.

Spurs were grateful to Lloris in first-half stoppage-time, the keeper clinging on after another Fernandez effort fizzed and dipped wickedly.

Fernandez – United’s brightest spark – again went close after the interval, firing a foot wide after an exchange with Anthony Martial. But Ole Gunnar Solskaer side was beginning to look jaded and a yard off the pace.

The introduction of Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood on the hour offered fresh impudence. Martial almost profiting after Pogba, assisted by Fernadez, opened Spurs up with alarming ease.

Lloris brilliantly saved from Martial the visitors began to push Spurs deeper and deeper – the change clearly having an immediate effect on proceedings.

Pogba’s impact was always going to be a talking point.
Dier was clumsy on the often controversial Frenchman – Fernandez emphatically beating Lloris from the resulting spot-kick.

It was Tottenham’s turn to wobble again as United – now injected with a new-found conviction – fancied a full compliment.

VAR reclaimed the spotlight in the final minutes as Fernandez, who clearly went over Dier’s challenge too easily, was denied a second penalty, this after referee, Jonathan Moss had initially indicated towards the spot.

Spurs survived another late scare when Greenwood whistled across the face of goal. A share of the spoils was probably the right call but left Tottenham at arm’s length in their quest to chase down a Champions League berth ahead of next season.

Spurs return to Premier League action on Tuesday, June 23 when West Ham United are the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (8:15pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Aurier, D Sánchez, Dier, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Heung-Min Son, Lamela (Lo Celso 69’), Bergwijn (Fernandez 69’), Kane Subs not used: Alderweireld, Vertonghen, R Sessegnon, Gazzaniga (GK), Ndombele, Skipp, White

Booked: None
Goals: Steven Bergwijn 27’

Manchester United: de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf (Matic 78’), Maguire, Shaw, McTominay (Bailly 89’), Fred (Pogba 63’), James (Greenwood 63’), Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial (Ighalo 78’) Subs not used: Lingard, Romero (GK), Matic, Williams

Booked: Daniel James (foul)
Goals: Bruno Fernandez (penalty) 81’

Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Eddie Smart and Neil Davies
Fourth official: Andre Marriner

Reaction to follow…

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]