Rooney’s knockout blow hands Man United victory over Spurs
Manchester United came out firing, full of confidence and with a point to prove against Tottenham Hotspur. Barring a slight error of judgement from Phil Jones in the opening minute which saw his attempted back-pass hurriedly put out for a corner by the boot of David de Gea, who had slid to meet the ball at full stretch, United didn’t put a foot wrong.
On eight minutes, Daley Blind, restored at left back spied the run of Michael Carrick, who in turn saw Marouane Fellaini dart into the area in between right back Kyle Walker and centre back Eric Dier, and played a well-weighted ball into the Belgian who took it in his stride and slotted it nicely into the bottom right corner.
It was United back to their best, and there was more to come. Ten minutes later, the home side, after dominating possession doubled their advantage. Fellaini connected with a corner, only for Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to parry it, and Carrick still with work to do threw his head at the ball from eight yards out to see it nestle into the bottom right.
Switched on tactically, combative and alert, Louis van Gaal’s men were mature defensively, with Fellaini dropping back to create a midfield three when the visitors had the ball; the hosts happy for Mauricio Pochettino’s men to try and break them down. Harry Kane, twice pulled up for being offside, highlighted the organisation of the United rearguard.
Just after the half hour mark, United went further ahead. Wayne Rooney pounced on a miscued square pass from Nabil Bentaleb, and still with work to do, drove forward, went past an uncertain Dier and rolled it past Lloris into the bottom left. With former manager Sir Alex Ferguson looking on, the smile on his face was a reminder to fans of happier times at Old Trafford under his leadership.
A tactical change from Spurs not long after saw Pochettino bring on Mousa Dembele for Andros Townsend, a switch which seemed to tighten their team up considerably.
The second half saw United try and extend their lead, and it wasn’t for the lack of trying, though Spurs were dogged in defence and determined to not to concede again. Ryan Mason had an opportunity not long after the restart, though after beating a man on the edge of the area, disappointingly dragged his right foot shot wide of De Gea’s right-hand post.
With the match won, Fellaini, arguably United’s man-of-the-match in undoubtedly his best performance in a Red Devils shirt, was replaced by Radamel Falcao, closely followed by Carrick with Rafeal da Silva taking his place. Both players went off to a standing ovation, and as the clock ran down, Spurs hunted for a consolation though Van Gaal’s side stood firm.
A crucial three points for the home side, who, based on this performance can consider themselves worthy challengers for a place in the Premier League top four.