Although incomplete without Harry Kane, the Spurs were in control for most of this close match but Manchester United under José Mourinho fought until the end. Even though the game was scoreless up until the 81st minute when Anthony Martial sealed the deal, it definitely wasn’t anything like the Red Devils’ last game. Both sides kept each other in check up until the late long ball shook the net.
As the scoreline may suggest, the defensive play from both sides was on point, with Tottenham’s side being a bit better. The formations that both teams used were similar with three central defenders. The Spurs employed innovative and fluid passing across the pitch, creating opportunities that they might have capitalized if their best striker wasn’t recovering from a hamstring injury. Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Winks were the torch-bearers for Tottenham while United’s side, with Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera on the midfield, relied quite a bit on Henrikh Mkhitaryan for creativity.
The first half featured little danger to either side’s nets. Eric Dier’s tackle in the area stopped Rashford early on and even after the ball found Lukaku, he managed to miss his target in unbelievable fashion, be that target was either a shot on the goal or a pass. Rashford did eventually come through and give United’s only attempt on the target in the first half. He shot off a far placed free kick which Hugo Lloris dived to save, probably unnecessary, since the ball looked like it was headed away from the post anyway.
On the other end, Tottenham’s coordinated efforts didn’t have the longevity to last long enough for Son Heung-min to have a proper chance. Thanks to a blunder in the defense, De Gea collided with Phil Jones and dropped the ball, giving Sissoko the opportunity, who proceeded to launch the ball sky high. Before the end of the half, De Gea wrote down a save, thanks to a weak shot by Dier.
Right before the hour struck, the most promising chance of the game came at the expense of Ben Davies who got the angle wrong when clearing a header. After the ball reached him, Mkhitaryan fired a strong shot which forced a save out of Lloris, who couldn’t hold the ball. Rashford was in a perfect position to make something out of it but Davies cleared his name by coming back for a block.
Following United’s increased pressure in the second half, Tottenham sent on Mousa Dembélé in hopes of regaining control of the midfield, to which the Devils replied with Lingard and Martial. Some thought of the substitution of Rashford with Martial as an error, seeing as how Rashford was the one who caused Tottenham’s defence the most headaches, but Martial instantly got to work. He helped set up a chance for Lukaku who, before long, would return the favour.
Valencia got a yellow card for trying to fake a penalty kick via a dive, after which it seemed this would end up being a scoreless game. Eriksen was just out of range from a beautiful diagonal ball from Alli to score against De Gea. On the other side, Lukaku hit the post with a header thanks to Lingard’s cross.
In the end though, a goal was scored after De Gea’s upfield launch which Lukaku barely reached in time to steal away from Jan Vertonghen and send towards Martial with a header. Martial remained composed under pressure and scored against Lloris.
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