Tottenham Hotspur 1 Man United 2
Wayne Rooney’s first-half brace against Tottenham ensured Manchester United kept the Premiership title race alive for at least another week. The England striker opened the scoring after seven minutes when he slid in to convert Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass. And when Young-Pyo Lee dawdled in defence, Ji-Sung Park pounced to play Rooney in for his decisive second.
Spurs, who had chances with Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson going close, pulled one back through Jermaine Jenas. The midfielder pounced on 53 minutes after some woeful Manchester United defending at a corner. Nemanja Vidic’s clearing header bounced off Rio Ferdinand and back towards goal to leave Jenas with the easiest of tap-ins.
It set the game up beautifully, with Tottenham looking to increase the distance between themselves and north London rivals Arsenal in the race for fourth and Champions League football. And the visitors knew that anything less than a win would give Chelsea the chance to wrap up the title later in the day at home to Everton. But Spurs struggled to muster a clear-cut opening as United enjoyed the greater control in an entertaining encounter. Robbie Keane tested Edwin van der Sar with a shot from distance, but it was United and Ruud van Nistelrooy who had the better chances as time ticked down. The Dutchman spurned a glorious opportunity after a heavy first touch gave Calum Davenport, in his first start for Spurs, a chance to block and late in the game he turned a Gary Neville cross on to the post.
Defoe saw an effort within the first two minutes trickle agonisingly wide of the post after good work by Michael Carrick and Aaron Lennon. And Dawson also went close, with Carrick again the catalyst for the chance, but Van der Sar was on hand to make a sharp, reflex stop at the back post. Dawson should have made Tottenham’s early dominance tell by converting from the flighted free-kick and the hosts were made to pay within a minute.
Van Nistelrooy led a counter-attack down the left, his clipped pass off the outside of the right-boot was met by Ronaldo who took Paul Robinson out of the equation with a delightful pass of his own leaving Rooney with an open goal.
It did little to knock the hosts from their stride, but while they continued to raid forward with Lennon, Defoe and Keane full of energy, there was no end product. Defoe and Dawson wasted more chances to score while Ronaldo saw a header go over at the other shortly after Lee made a telling block from Park.
However, the next time the South Korean pair came together it was Park who came out on top to set up the crucial second. Lee gifted his compatriot the ball as he tried to run it out of defence and Rooney was the man to benefit. Tottenham were given a lifeline by some equally poor defending at the other end, but despite throwing everything at United, including keeper Robinson at a late corner, there was to be no second goal.
Man Utd Blog Man of the Match:
Class act throughout. The difference between the two sides on the day.