Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United
United and Spurs shared the points in an entertaining game in which both teams went for the win: although neither got it, they showed enough to suggest they remain in competition for the top places in the premiership despite the doubts raised by early season form. David Moyes will be concerned at the number of free kicks conceded just outside the box, but delighted with the spirit and quality shown by his side in coming from behind twice.
Although United’s early attacking play showed enterprise, with Valencia a particular threat on the right, at times the Reds looked sluggish defensively and this led to a Spurs goal after eighteen minutes from a Kyle Walker free kick, the success of which gained much from the defensive wall jumping over his daisy-cutter. The challenge from Evans that gave away the free kick was also poor: the central defender’s outstretched leg offered too much of an invitation to Paulinho, who was only too willing to accept it and go down.
Ten minutes later, United’s defence were slow on the turn and quick Spurs play allowed Soldado a shot on goal. Fortunately, the out of form forward blazed his shot over the bar. Soon afterwards, De Gea did well to parry Lennon’s shot at the near post after the winger had outstripped Evra for pace. Within seconds, however, United benefited from holding out when Rooney capitalised on loose defensive play at the other end of the field to fire United level, after the ball rebounded to him from Walker’s failure to deal with Jones’ cross.
When Spurs’ second goal came in the second half, it was out of nowhere. Sandro, who had an impressive game in a defensive midfield role, hammered a superb right foot shot from distance into the top corner. United equalised moments later, however, when Welbeck was felled by Lloris in the area and Rooney stepped up to score his second from the spot. Though the decision to award the penalty led to this fixture’s annual whingeing from Spurs players and fans, there was no question it was the correct one.
Both teams continued to pose a threat in front of goal, though Rooney once again always looked the most likely to be the game’s decisive figure, his potent attacking play and all-round commitment once again marking him out again as easily the best player on the pitch. There was much to admire also in United’s passing at pace and, while this result leaves the Reds further behind the league leaders, you sense there are intriguing possibilities ahead of us going into December. Wednesday night’s game against an in-form Everton side might tell us more.