By Okafor Joseph
Sport News- Manchester United- Tottenham
Saturday, October 28,2017
Even without Harry Kane, Tottenham held the upper hand for much of this closely contested game, though Manchester United are no mugs under José Mourinho and they stuck grimly to their task to pick up an important win with a late Anthony Martial goal. That is not to suggest the game itself was grim, though scoreless for 81 minutes it was nothing like as barren as United’s draw at Anfield a fortnight ago but two good sides were cancelling each other out until Spurs were undone by a long ball from the back.
Machester United have closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to two points courtesy of a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford this afternoon.
Anthony Martial came off the bench to score the only goal of the game with just nine minutes remaining, lifting United three points clear of their opponents as they maintained their 100% home record in the Premier League this season.
Spurs were without injured top-scorer Harry Kane, and the visitors struggled to create much in his absence during a slow and uneventful opening half an hour.
United did not fare much better, though, and a dipping long-range free kick from Marcus Rashford which was tipped past the post by Hugo Lloris was the best the home side could muster in the first half.
Tottenham were largely limited to long-range efforts themselves as Moussa Sissoko and Toby Alderweireld tried their luck with speculative strikes, before Sissoko wasted their best chance of the first half with a sliced shot after David de Gea had collided with Phil Jones and spilt a cross.
De Gea was the busier of the two keepers in the opening 45 minutes, although the Spaniard was never truly tested and made two more routine stops to deny Dele Alli and Eric Dier – the latter of whom hooked the ball towards goal with an acrobatic volley after United had failed to deal with a corner.
Both sides went into the break all square, but United did finally create their first clear sight of goal 10 minutes into the second half when Henrikh Mkhitaryan worked space to shoot before seeing his curling effort saved by Lloris.
It should have been a routine stop for the Spurs skipper, but he spilled the ball into a dangerous area and needed Ben Davies on hand to deny Rashford a simple tap-in on the rebound, before Romelu Lukaku also narrowly missed out on turning a low cross home from close range seconds later.
Spurs quickly quelled the growing United pressure, although the hosts did come close to breaking the deadlock shortly after the hour mark when Antonio Valencia‘s powerful half-volley fizzed narrowly over the crossbar.
Lukaku, whose mini-goal drought now stretches to more than four matches, had to wait until the 73rd minute for his first clear sight of goal when he burst down the left channel before firing an effort which needed to be tipped away by Lloris.
Christian Eriksen then blazed a shot over the bar when he should have done better, but the Dane did showcase his quality moments later with an exquisite pass into the area which Alli could not apply the finishing touch to from close range.
The match was suddenly an end-to-end contest and Lukaku was inches away from scoring his eighth league goal of the season when he planted a firm header against the foot of the post with just over 10 minutes remaining.
It was substitute Martial who finally provided the breakthrough, though, latching on to Lukaku’s flick before sending a scruffy finish past compatriot Lloris as Spurs were undone by route one football.
The hosts had the chance to add a second late on as Spurs left Jesse Lingard alone when committing men forward for a corner, but the United midfielder sliced his eventual effort high and wide of the target after a long clearance had released him through on goal.
It did not prove to be a costly miss, however, as United held out for their eighth consecutive home win across all competitions – their best run of form at Old Trafford since 2012-13.
That streak includes six consecutive home league wins without conceding for the first time since April 2010, whereas Tottenham’s six-match winning streak away from home comes to an end with their first dropped points of the season on the road.
Spurs will look to return to winning ways on Champions League duty against European champions Real Madrid in midweek, while United are next in action against Benfica before taking on Chelsea next weekend.