[Premier League] Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United
Spurs: Kyle Walker (18), Sandro (54)
ManUtd: Wayne Rooney (32, pen 57)
United came from behind twice to secure a point in a fluctuating encounter with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Wayne Rooney grabbed both goals, the first after Kyle Walker had opened the scoring with a free kick on 18 minutes, the second cancelling out Sandro’s long-range strike.
The result changed little in terms of United jostling with a clutch of other sides in the Barclays Premier League table. However this week’s home dates with Everton and Newcastle, two of the aforementioned sides, give David Moyes’ men a chance to build on this platform.
Danny Welbeck made his first start for United since the draw with Shakhtar Donetsk on 2 October, but following his excellent contribution in midweek, Ryan Giggs was rested completely two days after his 40th birthday and was not in the matchday squad.
United had the better of the opening phase of the match without threatening Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, but it was the home side who went ahead on 18 minutes.
Paulinho won a free kick on the edge of the area under challenge from Jonny Evans, and as the four-man defensive wall jumped in expectation that Walker would try to bend the ball over it, the right-back smashed his effort underneath and past David De Gea’s right hand into the net.
The goal lifted the home support, understandably edgy earlier on in the wake of their side’s humiliation at Manchester City a week ago, but Roberto Soldado wasted a good chance 10 minutes after the goal, the striker failing to hit the target after Paulinho had set him up.
The Match A see-saw encounter, with the hosts going ahead following good early pressure from United. Spurs missed two opportunities to extend their lead, and the Reds made them pay when Rooney pounced to equalise, but United’s famed resilience saw them shake off Sandro’s brilliant goal by forcing another leveller from the penalty spot. The last half-hour was a much more even affair, but neither goalkeeper was called upon too often.
Goals It’s not often you see a free kick smashed underneath a defensive wall for a goal, and David de Gea was not happy with the four men in front of him who had jumped up in anticipation of Kyle Walker lifting it up and over them. Rooney was at his predatory best when latching onto Walker’s mistake for the equaliser, but credit must go to Phil Jones for his work in robbing Mousa Dembele and then giving the Reds the chance to level. Sandro put the home side back into the lead in spectacular style, but Rooney kept his cool to drive the ball home from 12 yards.
Star men Wayne Rooney was outstanding – how many times have we said that this season? Despite playing as the sole striker, the England international set a wonderful example in tracking back to defend, and whipping in several teasing dead-ball efforts. Phil Jones’ versatility will be an asset for years to come, but he looked comfortable in midfield up against some highly-rated opponents. Antonio Valencia also provided several bright moments on the flank.
Sub-plots United may have expected an immediate backlash from Spurs following their disastrous showing last Sunday, but the Reds controlled the early exchanges prior to their hosts’ opener. Despite that, and Spurs’ spectacular second, there was no panic and each time United picked up the tempo to give the best chance of drawing level again. With two sides just ahead of us in the table visiting Old Trafford this week, there’s a great chance to build upon the foundations laid by this solid display.
Opposition Both the home team and home support were nervy early on in the aftermath of last Sunday’s six-goal humiliation at Manchester City, but the against-the-run-of-play goal for Walker lifted the spirits. Roberto Soldado’s miss and De Gea’s block to deny Lennon proved to be crucial when Rooney hit back. They could not build on the momentum from Sandro’s magnificent strike, and despite a more end-to-end closing phase they could not consistently worry United’s defence.
Move of the match Phil Jones won the ball near the touchline before quickly putting in a teasing cross that Kyle Walker could not deal with. Wayne Rooney’s predatory instincts perfectly capped off Jones’ good work just a few seconds earlier.
In the stands The travelling support made the most of the nervousness around the Lane, and would be broadly satisfied after coming away with a point with two home games in the offing this week.