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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 9 September 2006  - 12:00

Manchester United were forced to hang onto their slender early lead as we dominated for long spells but couldn't convert our chances in a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

Manchester United were forced to hang onto their slender early lead as we dominated for long spells but couldn't convert our chances in a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

It was something of a debut day for us on a sunny late afternoon in Manchester, with Mido making his second one for the Club following the completion of his permanent transfer. His Egyptian international teammate Hossam Ghaly made his first start since joining from Feyenoord in January, while Pascal Chimbonda also introduced himself in a Spurs shirt.

Missing was Aaron Lennon, who picked up a knee injury in training on Friday afternoon, but skipper Ledley King was back after his three-game absence. In opposition for the first time since his switch north was Michael Carrick.

After a decent little spell of possession - with Mido operating predominently on the left of a five in midfield - it was Cristiano Ronaldo who made a keeper work for the first time, with Paul Robinson fielding his low curling effort with some comfort.

But, with just eight and a half minutes on the clock, United were awarded a free-kick from 35 yards out and - with the sun shining fiercely in Robinson's eyes - Ronaldo went for goal. His swerving shot was pretty central but moved in front of the goalkeeper, who could only parry it out in the direction of Ryan Giggs and the ball entered the net via the underside of the bar from the head of the Welshman.

There was half a chance for Jermaine Jenas just after the 20-minute mark when, after linking up with Robbie Keane, he had sight of goal on the run into the area and it took a last ditch tackle to knock him off course.

On 37 minutes it was Michael Dawson who could have levelled matters when he read the intentions of an Edgar Davids chip and was in on Edwin van der Sar. The centre-half attempted to lift the ball over the tall Dutchman but a pair of outstretched hands denied Daws a first Premiership goal. Van der Sar also denied King from the rebound before Davids and Mido combined and a better final ball from the line could have done the trick.

There was a couple of changes after the interval with Mido taking up the central striker role and Jenas initially switching to the right flank. It became immediately apparent that the pace of Jenas would upset Patrice Evra.

The boys appeared to be growing in confidence and stature as the opening minutes of the second half ticked away. Van der Sar had a scare when a Chimbonda cross had to be helped over the bar before, from the resulting corner, Dawson's downward header caused some alarm in the home defences.

Substitutions were being prepared not long before the hour mark, with both Jermain Defoe and Reto Ziegler entering play in place of Robbie Keane and Edgar Davids.

United were looking slightly ragged until Ronaldo and Saha joined forces to present danger in our defensive third of the pitch. It took typically robust marshalling by Dawson to avert the threat.

Defoe then zipped past Richardson to home in on goal, but his trigger of a right boot was a little long in the pulling. He should have scored moments after when he was clear in front of goal and on the end of Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross. His header did not have the required power or precision on this occasion.

Again a header should have resulted in a goal when, on 77 minutes, Ziegler's cross from the left picked out Mido in the clear with a similar heading chance to Defoe's. This one too, went agonisingly wide.

As we threw all-but the kitchen sink into attack, gaps started to open up and the home side - or, more to the point, Saha - should have capitalised. However, he first opted to shoot instead of squaring and then, put clear from half-way, couldn't beat Robinson one-on-one.

Still pouring forward into added time, our final half-chance arrived at the head of Mido from Ziegler's cross but the Egyptian, impressive on his return, could only loop his effort over.

LINE-UPS
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Evra, Ferdinand, Brown, Ronaldo (Silvestre, 90), Saha, Giggs, Carrick (Fletcher, 79), O'Shea, Richardson (Park, 70). Subs: Solskjaer, Kuszczak.

Spurs: Robinson, Chimbonda, Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, King (Murphy, 81), Ghaly, Davids (Ziegler, 56), Jenas, Zokora, Mido, Keane (Defoe, 56). Subs: Cerny, Huddlestone.

OFFICIALS
Referee: Mr M Riley. Assistants: Mr G Brittain, Mr R Burton. Fourth official: Mr D Gallagher.

ATTENDANCE
75,453 - new Premiership record.