Spurs end United hoodoo
Tottenham claim first league win at Old Trafford since 1989
Last Updated: 29/09/12 8:06pm
Tottenham ended a 23-year hoodoo by claiming their first victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1989 in a five-goal thriller.
Never before in the Premier League era have Spurs left the Theatre of Dreams with all three points, with Gary Lineker the last player to score a winning goal in a league contest at the home of the Red Devils, but they laid that ghost in an enthralling encounter.
Spurs forged ahead in only the second minute as Jan Vertonghen played a neat one-two with Gareth Bale before bursting into the United box and firing home via a large deflection from Jonny Evans which completely wrong-footed Anders Lindegaard.
And it was 2-0 just after the half-hour mark as Sandro and Mousa Dembele combined to release Bale, with the Wales international leaving Rio Ferdinand trailing in his wake before firing home across Lindegaard with his right foot.
But United roared back after the interval after a half-time dressing down from Sir Alex Ferguson and the introduction of Wayne Rooney, with an explosive start to the second period seeing three goals scored in the space of just 139 seconds.
Nani reduced the deficit in the 51st minute, only for Spurs to go straight up to the other end of the field and restore their two-goal cushion through Clint Dempsey after Lindegaard could only parry Bale's stinging shot.
The crowd barely had time to draw breath before United struck again through Shinji Kagawa after Robin van Persie's excellent through-ball and the home side went on to dominate the remainder of the contest.
But they could not find an equaliser despite striking the post through Rooney's free-kick and the bar from Michael Carrick's header, while Sandro was perhaps fortunate not to be penalised after the ball bounced up and struck his hand in the area.
The result ended one of English football's longest winless streaks, as well as raising more questions over United's ability to regain the 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 here, 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 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 Lindegaard's net.
The Belgian's shot did take a significant deflection off 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 Ferdinand, with the former looking all of his 37 years at times during a below-par first-half display.
When Van Persie lost possession on the edge of the Tottenham area, 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.
The move triggered a burst of three goals in as many 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.
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 rebound.
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.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Tottenham Hotspur|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|7||Shots off Target||4|
|60.1||1st Half Poss.||39.9|
|87.2||2nd Half Poss.||12.8|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||38||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||38||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||30|