Spurs suffer defeat to United after de Gea masterclass
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Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Manchester United 1
A stunning display by David de Gea denied Tottenham Hotspur a point at home to Manchester United in the Premier League this afternoon.
Marcus Rashford’s goal at the end of the first half proved the difference between the top-four rivals at Wembley Stadium.
After the interval, it was largely one-way traffic, but Mauricio Pochettino’s team were unable to beat de Gea.
He made a plethora of top class saves to ensure United kept a clean sheet and made it six wins in a row under their interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
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Spurs made three changes to the team which ground out a 1-0 win over Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday as captain Hugo Lloris and defenders Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies were handed starts.
Paulo Gazzaniga, Davinson Sanchez and Danny Rose dropped to the bench as a result and joining them among the replacements were Juan Foyth, Oliver Skipp, Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente.
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Man United named an attacking XI at Wembley with Jesse Lingard, Rashford and Anthony Martial all starting up front.
After winning 3-0 at Old Trafford in August, Tottenham were seeking a double over the Red Devils for the first time in almost 20 years.
You have to go all the way back to the 1989/90 First Division season to find the last time Spurs won twice over United in a league campaign.
Pochettino’s team were up against a different animal compared to the side which had struggled for form under Jose Mourinho.
Under caretaker boss Solskjaer, United had won five games in a row, but they were still sixth in the table and 10 points off Tottenham.
It meant this was perhaps a bigger game for the visitors than the hosts, although Spurs were eager to keep within touching distance of leaders Liverpool and Man City.
Wembley was at full capacity for this match and a fantastic atmosphere was present before kick-off as both sets of supporters made a huge amount of noise in Brent.
It took nine minutes for a chance of genuine note to be created and it nearly resulted in a wonderful team goal.
Harry Winks turned brilliantly from a throw deep inside his own area and passed into Christian Eriksen, who curled into Heung-min Son’s path.
The South Korean held the ball up well before releasing Winks into the penalty area, but he could only drag his shot across the face of de Gea’s goal.
Spurs managed to keep the ball in play, however, and force a corner but despite Paul Pogba’s weak clearance, Winks smashed over from 20-yards.
Suddenly the game had sprung into life and United hit back with an equally good chance in the 11th minute.
After keeping the ball patiently, visiting captain Ashley Young crossed into the area and Toby Alderweireld’s flick only fell as far as Lingard, but he blazed over.
United threatened again with 12 on the clock as Martial passed into Rashford, yet his shot was easy for Lloris.
The contest was opening up more and a mistake nearly gifted the Red Devils a goal in the 18th minute.
A simple pass by Trippier was miscued and gave Martial the ball in space and he ran at the Tottenham back four, but saw international team-mate Lloris deny him with a near-post save.
It was a warning sign to Spurs – they could not afford to give United’s attacking trio possession so easily.
To their credit, Tottenham began to step things up a notch after and Harry Kane had a shot blocked by Nemanja Matic following a Kieran Trippier corner.
Pochettino’s men continued to look for gaps between the United lines and thought the deadlock had been broken in the 31st minute.
Another good move saw Trippier receive the ball in space and his cross towards the back post was flicked goalwards by Dele Alli and poked in by Kane.
Before the Spurs forward could run off to celebrate, though, the linesman had put his flag up for offside and it was the right decision.
It remained goalless, but Tottenham were slowly turning the screw and increasing their grip on the clash.
Winks had another effort in the 36th minute, but again he failed to hit the target and then Spurs suffered a blow.
Kane chipped the ball forward and Moussa Sissoko chased, but quickly pulled up and fell to the ground in a heap with six minutes of the half left.
He received treatment and surprisingly returned to the pitch, although only for a few minutes before Lamela replaced him with 43 played.
Before the hosts had even had time to regroup, United added salt to the wound as they made the breakthrough a minute before half time.
Trippier, again, gave the ball away cheaply and this time he and Spurs were punished as Pogba found Rashford, he accelerated away from Vertonghen and fired low into the bottom corner.
It was an impressive finish from the England international, but Lloris appeared to get a finger tip to the shot and would have been disappointed not to parry the shot away from goal.
After beginning to get on top, Tottenham were now behind and despite two minutes of stoppage time, it remained 1-0 to the away side at the break.
Spurs came out for the second period needing a leveller and quickly did their best to restore parity.
First Eriksen and Lamela combined to find Alli in space and he played Kane through, but the England man saw his central effort saved by de Gea in the 49th minute.
Tottenham continued to push forward and created another opportunity with 50 on the clock and again United’s goalkeeper came to the rescue.
Kane controlled and turned before spreading the play out to Trippier and his cross came for Alli, but his strong header was superbly clawed away from goal by de Gea.
It was another stunning save from the Spaniard and United’s goal was suddenly living a charmed life.
Back came the away side, though, as Pogba forced Lloris into a smart save with a header from Young’s cross in the 54th minute.
Two minutes later and the France midfielder went even closer as he saw a long-range shot blocked by Alderweireld and ricochet up in the air.
Pogba was first to the loose ball and outmuscled Eriksen to dribble into the area, but after poking towards goal, Lloris was able to acrobatically tip over the crossbar.
It was a fine save by the World Cup winner and earned a high-five from Pogba.
Chances were being created frequently now and Kane tested de Gea again with 59 gone, but his header from Eriksen’s cross was straight at the United number one.
An even better opening was produced by the Lilywhites two minutes later as Winks raced forward and threaded a neat pass into Trippier.
The England right-back chipped into the area, but Kane couldn’t get a touch and in the process of jumping for the ball put off Lamela as he bundled over.
Another wonderful opening had not been taken and Solskjaer’s men almost put the game to bed less than 60 seconds later.
Martial ran at the Spurs back four and teed up Pogba and his shot took a deflection off Ben Davies, but Lloris dived to his right to save well.
Opportunities continued to come frequently and the best of the game occurred with 66 played at the national stadium.
Lamela tenaciously won the ball back from Pogba and started a lightening counter-attack which saw Eriksen find Kane and the forward sent Alli away through on goal.
The former MK Dons ace angled his run well, but with only de Gea to beat, the United goalkeeper again came up trumps and made the save.
Spurs had failed to take a big chance, but with Eriksen fouled after the save, there was another opportunity for Tottenham.
Unfortunately the Dane could only fire wide of goal and frustration began to increase as it seemed like it wouldn’t be the hosts’ day.
That very feeling only increased again in the 70th minute when once more de Gea was the bouncer on the door telling Spurs they could not come in.
Eriksen’s corner to the near post was smartly side-footed on by Alderweireld, but who was there to make the save? You guessed it. United’s custodian.
Kane and Alli saw further chances saved as the minutes ticked away at Wembley and Pochettino eventually turned to Llorente.
The Spaniard was brought on with nine minutes to go to try and prevent Tottenham suffering a second straight league defeat.
Winks made way, but unfortunately Llorente’s first involvement was to foul Young before Diego Dalot replaced Lingard.
Spurs’ substitute did a lot better in his next big moment as he nodded down Alli’s pass for Kane and although he worked a yard of space, de Gea again came to the rescue for the visitors with 86 played.
Four minutes were added on at the end of the 90 and Tottenham huffed and puffed, but they were unable to produce a crucial late chance and fell to a second consecutive league defeat at Wembley.
Spurs remain third in the table, but they are nine points off Liverpool and only a point ahead of Chelsea in fourth.
Perhaps even more worrying for Tottenham is the fact Sissoko came off with what did look a hamstring injury and after the full time whistle Kane was badly struggling.
He was unable to get to his feet for a good two minutes and eventually hobbled off, but the last thing Spurs need is an injury to their star striker.
Pochettino’s men will now lick their wounds and look to respond away to Fulham on Sunday, January 20.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (c); Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Winks (Llorente 81); Sissoko (Lamela 43), Eriksen; Alli; Son, Kane.
Unused substitutes: Gazzaniga, Rose, Sanchez, Foyth, Skipp.
Manchester United: de Gea; Young (c), Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Matic, Herrera, Pogba (McTominay 90); Lingard (Dalot 83), Rashford, Martial (Lukaku 73).
Unused substitutes: Romero, Pereira, Fred, Mata.