Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester United 1
Scorers: Dempsey van Persie
Team: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton (Assou-Ekotto); Lennon, Parker (Huddlestone), Dembele, Bale; Dempsey, Defoe Subs: (unused) Friedel, Vertonghen, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Livermore
It took a late pitch inspection by referee Chris Foy to enable the match to take place at White Hart Lane with snow falling almost continuously during the ninety minutes. Tottenham were forced to make a late change to the team with Steven Caulker replacing Jan Vertonghen who was feeling unwell. Scott Parker started his first Premier League match of the season for Sandro and with Clint Dempsey starting in place of Emmanuel Adebayor, these were the only changes from the team which drew at Queen’s Park Rangers. The United team was the one which defeated Liverpool last Sunday except for Phil Jones replacing Young. Jones was detailed to play on the right side of midfield where he supported Rafael in marking Gareth Bale. Wayne Rooney started on the bench.
In the opening minutes both sides tested each other out in the difficult conditions with United forcing Spurs to play the ball back towards their own goal where Hugo Lloris put in a couple of poor clearances. United were determined to stop any Tottenham threat at source and from a free-kick for a foul on Jermain Defoe, United cleared the ball but Scott Parker played it back in again but Dempsey’s volleyed effort was blocked at close range.
Aaron Lennon was the main threat for Tottenham throughout and he worked hard in the early period, covering back in defence when needed. United were trying to play the ball behind the Spurs defence but they were over-hitting the pass. Parker, after a run from midfield, had a shot after ten minutes which curled past the post. Two minutes later van Persie put in a header which Lloris gathered safely. Lennon then threatened with a run, cutting in from the right, and low shot which the goalkeeper pushed out to Defoe and then recovered to block the striker’s effort. Defoe was, however, given offside.
Spurs built up a period of possession and pressure on the visitors’ goal but without causing any real concerns. Then after 25 minutes United struck. They picked up the ball just inside their own half and played it forward quickly, catching the Spurs defence out of position. The ball was played to the left and then across to the right where Tom Cleverley had time to pick a cross to the far post where van Persie headed past Lloris.
Tottenham were shaken, past memories of similar situations against United flooded back, but this Spurs team showed more character and fight. A minute later, Lennon played in Defoe but his low shot at an angle was pushed out for a corner by the goalkeeper. Next Dempsey tried to play in Defoe but the striker was blocked off by Carrick. With six minutes remaining, a free-kick was cleared but when played back in again it was headed out to Bale whose shot deflected off Ferdinand but De Gea got his foot to the ball for a corner.
After the resumption, Lennon pinched the ball from United and played it to Defoe who shot first time but it went wide. United responded to threaten through Welbeck but Mousa Dembele blocked his effort. Spurs hemmed United back in their own half and should have been level after only five minutes. Dembele and Dempsey linked well on the edge of the area. Dembele played Dempsey in and he took the ball between two defenders and shot but De Gea got his foot to the ball and deflected it for a corner. Spurs dominated the early possession as United defended resolutely.
On the hour Dempsey shot weakly at the goalkeeper with Defoe unmarked on the edge of the area. Then Bale put in a cross to the far post but no Spurs player was forward to make it count.
United brought on Rooney with just under thirty minutes remaining and for a spell his presence appeared to unsettle the Spurs defence. Benoit Assou-Ekotto came on for Naughton three minutes later. A shot from Defoe was deflected and fell to Dempsey with the goalkeeper saving his shot. The game had become more open with Tottenham pushing forward in search of a goal while United tried to get forward on the break. Rooney had a penalty appeal turned down when challenged by Cauker. Bale tried a long range shot but it went over and then poor defending allowed van Persie in on goal but Lloris saved well but the striker had been offside.
It looked as if United were weathering the storm but in the final ten minutes Spurs continued their pursuit of that elusive goal. Lennon was causing United difficulties – he provided Defoe with chances but the shot was blocked and another went straight at the goalkeeper. Bale had a shot deflected for a corner on 85 minutes, Lennon’s effort was blocked with a minute of normal time remaining. The referee added on three minutes and with thirty seconds remaining Assou-Ekotto played in a deep cross which the goalkeeper punched out to Lennon. The winger played it across to Dempsey who beat De Gea for a deserved Tottenham equaliser.
Tottenham have taken four points from United this season and Clint Dempsey has scored two crucial goals – the winner at Old Trafford and the equaliser at White Hart Lane. The result shows much of the belief that Andre Villas-Boas had built up in his team that they didn’t let their heads drop after conceding in the first half and that they kept going right to the end even though it looked as if they were never going to make the breakthrough.
Dempsey scored the goal but the ‘Man of the Match’ was Aaron Lennon. He was a constant problem to United who had marshalled Bale well, and worked tirelessly, getting back to win the ball in defence and was sharp when going forward, looking for the ball and creating opportunities for Defoe.
Spurs deserved the point regardless of what Sir Alex Ferguson says.