After having the better of the contest but failing to find the breakthrough, we suddenly hit a quick-fire treble to leave the stadium absolutely rocking and, more importantly, reduce the deficit to league leaders Leicester City back to seven points.
Dele Alli got the ball rolling in the 70th minute when he converted Christian Eriksen’s fine cross, Toby Alderweireld headed home a free-kick four minutes later and, before we could draw breath again, Erik Lamela smashed in from the edge of the area on 76 minutes!
It gave us our first win in N17 over United since 2001 and it was fully deserved as we overcame a slow start to dominate the game, although we needed a super save from Hugo Lloris to deny Anthony Martial when the match was goalless.
Mauricio Pochettino made two changes to the side which drew at Liverpool eight days ago, Jan Vertonghen returning to action for the first time since sustaining an injury on January 23, replacing Kevin Wimmer, while Lamela came in at the expense of Heung-Min Son.
Kick-off was delayed by half an hour after United were stuck in traffic and arrived late at the stadium. Maybe it was due to United’s late arrival, or perhaps due to Leicester’s win against Sunderland earlier in the day, but the game was particularly subdued in the early stages with neither side managing a shot on target until the 17th minute.
That came from Harry Kane, who got a good touch on Lamela’s whipped cross, but the assistant referee’s flag was already up for offside and David De Gea kept the effort out anyway.
There was plenty of endeavour but little to shout about in terms of goalmouth action, but the game did slowly come to life and we enjoyed a good spell after 25 minutes when we should really have taken the lead.
Danny Rose produced an excellent cross-field pass to Kyle Walker who in turn found Lamela, he laid it off to Eriksen who tried to curl an effort into the far corner from 30 yards but it never troubled De Gea.
On 28 minutes, Lamela won possession after a scramble near the goal-line and delivered a cross which De Gea spilled, Kane lifted the ball out of the keeper’s reach but Timothy Fosu-Mensah slid in to clear the danger as the striker went to shoot.
And just moments later we had a glorious chance as we won the ball back again, Eriksen sending over a perfect cross for the unmarked Lamela but he headed wide from the edge of the six-yard box.
Within a minute of that chance, we were on the offensive once more. Eriksen played a pass inside Marcos Rojo for Walker surging down the right, he cut inside the defender and advanced into the area but his shot was blocked.
That flurry of activity lifted the crowd as well as the players and we went in search of the opener while keeping United’s attacking players quiet. It almost came in the final minute of the half when Eriksen took a free-kick out wide on the right, the ball flicked off Martial and almost fell for Eric Dier but he couldn’t get a touch in front of goal.
The visitors introduced Ashley Young in place of Marcus Rashford at half-time, but we made a much brighter start to the second period and again almost grabbed the lead with a string of quick-fire chances.
Five minutes into the half, Rojo was in the right place to clear Eriksen’s cut-back after good work from Mousa Dembele, the Danish midfielder picking up the clearance and letting fly with a shot from 25 yards which De Gea palmed away. And in the next phase of play, Dembele squared a pass to Dier who tried his luck from distance, the ball taking a slight deflection, but De Gea saved well.
United hadn’t created too much but they were always capable of carving out chances and did so on 58 minutes when Martial touched a throw-in to Jesse Lingard just inside our area down the left but his attempted curler went wide of Lloris’ far post. And they had the best opportunity of the game three minutes later when Martial weaved his way past Dier and Walker and fired in a shot from 15 yards out but Lloris made a superb save to keep the scores level.
We were soon back on the attack, though, and De Gea needed to be alert as Rose’s low cross flicked off Juan Mata before Eriksen found Walker with a lovely ball inside the full-back but his centre was cut out by the Spanish stopper.
The pressure was building and it finally told in the 70th minute with a well-worked goal. Kane and Lamela tussled for possession midway inside United’s half, Kane emerged with the ball and clipped it wide to Eriksen, who instinctively sent a pass into the area where Alli was on hand to slide the ball under De Gea and into the back of the net.
That was the breakthrough we wanted and the Lane erupted in celebration, but that was nothing compared to what followed! Just four minutes later, we won a free-kick which Lamela delivered perfectly for Alderweireld to climb high and flick into the bottom corner.
And 2-0 very quickly became 3-0 as we went straight on the attack again with another superb move ending with Rose fizzing a square pass across the edge of the area which Lamela ran onto and stroked home into the bottom corner.
It was an incredible spell of action – three goals coming in five minutes and 46 seconds to be precise – and had the stadium absolutely rocking as the three points were basically secured. But we kept coming, looking to take full advantage of the momentum in our favour, Kane forcing De Gea to tip a header over the bar, Lamela curling wide and then Walker hitting the post as he slid in to meet Lamela’s low drive, although the flag had again gone up for offside.
We almost added a fourth in stoppage time when Dembele played a one-two with Alli but his first touch took the ball away from him and United cleared the danger. Not that it mattered by then!
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Dembele, Lamela (Chadli 87), Alli (Mason 90+2), Eriksen, Kane (Son 89). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Carroll.
United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Fosu-Mensah (Darmian 68), Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Carrick (c), Mata (Depay 77), Lingard, Martial, Rashford (Young 46). Substitutes (not used): Romero, Fellaini, Herrera, Valencia.
Goals: Spurs – Alli 70, Aldeweireld 74, Lamela 76.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Walker, Alli; United – Darmian, Depay, Young.
Referee: Mike Dean.