Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham Hotspur
Cast your minds back a week. Tottenham Hotspur went into the final seconds of stoppage-time a goal to the good and looking comfortable against a Newcastle United side that simply hadn’t laid a glove on them.
The injustice that followed tantamount to footballing robbery. Whether it was the rule, the referee or VAR – the game got it wrong and Spurs suffered. We questioned how Jose Mourinho would pick them up at the beginning of a week he openly described as ‘inhuman’?
In truth, Spurs should have put that particular contest to bed long before Callum Wilson’s spot-kick. But having picked themselves up to knock Chelsea out of the Carabao Cup, they dusted themselves off against Maccabi Haifa and subsequently started over again, and did exactly what they should have to Magpies against a shell shocked Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Of course, there was always going to be a ‘Spursy’ moment. Davinson Sanchez was clumsy on Anthony Martial – Bruno Fernandes dispatching the resulting spot-kick with barely two minutes on the clock.
But that was as good as it got for United – A pale shadow of the side that was once feared and revered throughout the country. By the seventh minute, Spurs were ahead. Tanguy Ndombele levelled from close range, then Heung-Min Son latched onto Harry Kane’s quick free-kick to turn the game on its head. United had taken the proverbial ‘big punch’ – they were not to recover.
Martial’s dismissal for a childish coming together with Erik Lamela didn’t help the hosts’ cause. But in truth, it made little difference to the final outcome. Kane added a third after United tried, and failed, to play out from the back. Then Son slipped home from close range – Moussa Sissoko found Serge Aurier the architect.
It was long gone as a contest – indeed if ever it was? Serge Aurier got in on the act to make it 5-1 after a sublime move involving Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Kane’s spot-kick completed the route. The England skipper added his fifth goal of the week – a week where Spurs have effortlessly found the second wind many questioned whether they had.
Mourinho spoke of the embarrassment of riches Spurs seem to have in offensive roles: “The squad has lots of options and lots of good players.
“Especially in the attacking areas, the potential, the numbers of options, are absolutely incredible.
Lucas, Lamela and Gareth Bale, Vinicius, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Bergwijn, Son and I probably forgot somebody. Incredible squad that we have in the attacking areas.”
Mourinho touched on Tottenham’s gradual improvement: “This season Mr Levy and the structure gave us an improved squad.
“In the first press conference, I said the objective was to win every match.
“Of course, that’s not always possible but we have to aim for it.
“I told the players before the game that a good result at Tottenham was to win. That’s the mentality we need to have.”
Ultimately, this result – like those attained again Chelsea and Maccabi – will only truly mean something if an elusive trophy arrives in N17 – The proof of that remains very much in the pudding, and that is still very much in the early stages of preparation.
Spurs return to action after the international when West Ham United are the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, October 18 (4:30pm).
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire (Capt), Shaw, Matic (McTominey 46’), Pogba, Greenwood (Van de Beek 68’), Fernandes (Fred 46’), Rashford, Martial Subs not used): Henderson, Lindelof, Lingard, Mata.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (Capt), Aurier, Dier, Sanchez, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Sissoko, Ndombele (Dele 69’), Lamela (Lucas 46’), Son (Davies 73’), Kane Subs not used): Hart, Doherty, Alderweireld, Winks.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Craig Pawson
VAR: Stuart Attwell
Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.