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Man Utd 2-0 Tottenham at Old Trafford

4 Min Read
Manchester United's Fred celebrates after his team's first goal last night

Fred’s opener was deflected in off Ben Davies early in the second half before Bruno Fernandes added a second as shots rained in on the Tottenham goal. This was surely the best performance by United since Erik ten Hag arrived at the club in the summer.

Antonio Conte’s side needed only a point to move above Manchester City into second but they were outplayed for much of the game. Indeed, Spurs had captain Hugo Lloris to thank for staying in it as long as they did – and then keeping the score down.

While the result means Spurs stay third and United retain fifth spot ahead of Newcastle, the trajectory of the two teams feels rather different after such a convincing display. Even if Cristiano Ronaldo did not feel a part of it. The veteran walked off down the tunnel late in the game having not been brought on as a substitute.

How Man Utd took the game to Tottenham

Tottenham’s plan for the game was obvious before a ball was kicked. “We will have to be good and creative to find gaps against Conte’s way of playing,” said Ten Hag, “because he is good at protecting his goal while attacking the other way.”

United found those gaps plenty of times in the opening 45 minutes. Antony struck the foot of the far post, while Lloris was forced into smart saves to deny Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Fred and Luke Shaw. Rashford really should have beaten him.

Though some of the other efforts were from longer range, United’s total of 19 shots in the first half was the most by any team in a Premier League game so far this season. It was the most that United have managed in over a decade – since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.

In the end, it took a deflection to beat Lloris. Fred had looked lively from the start – it was his clever pass that put Rashford through – and his performance deserved that moment of luck. Davies’ touch finally left the France goalkeeper helpless, rooted to the spot.

What might worry Spurs supporters is that the flow of the game did not change thereafter, United instead pushing for a second. They found it on the counter-attack when Fernandes expertly curled the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty box.

Conte has picked up points this season – but not many against their rivals. Well beaten by Arsenal and fortunate to escape with a draw at Chelsea, they were second best here too. It took another stunning stop from Lloris to prevent Rashford from making it three.

For Ten Hag and his team, the opposite holds true. Spurs have now gone the same way as Liverpool and Arsenal at Old Trafford. If they can find a way to defeat the lesser sides too then expect them to rise further. This result will only boost belief in that happening.

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