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REPORT: UNITED 3, SPURS 1

Posted on 27 January 2008  - 12:00

United finally got the better of us after an impressive display at Old Trafford and our FA Cup dreams will go on hold for another year.

United finally got the better of us after an impressive display at Old Trafford and our FA Cup dreams will go on hold for another year.

Key moments went against us in this fourth round tie. Having taken the lead via Robbie Keane in the 24th minute, United levelled via Carlos Tevez and Jermaine Jenas was denied by the fingertips of Edwin Van der Sar on the stroke of half-time.

Jenas had another chance at 1-1 but then the game changed as Michael Dawson was sent off for deliberate handball, Ronaldo converted from the spot and we were suddenly 2-1 down with 10 men.

Still, Juande Ramos pushed us forward, we ended with three strikers on the pitch and Dimitar Berbatov struck the post with the score at 2-1 with five minutes left. Wide open at the back, Ronaldo clinched it when his shot squirmed under Radek Cerny with two minutes left.

In probably not the ideal game for it to happen, Juande Ramos was forced into defensive changes with Tom Huddlestone and Jamie O'Hara drafted in centrally and left in our back four. Young-Pyo Lee switched to the right.

It was open from the off but it was the United contingent that strongly suspected they had snatched the lead in the fourth minute when Ryan Giggs squared towards Wayne Rooney and the striker's first time effort gave the side netting a good shake.

It was full at Old Trafford and the noise was coming from the travelling Spurs thousands, a good deal noisier than the response to a curious take on Country Roads with a cheesy United spin designed to get the home fans going ahead of kick-off.

Ronaldo was a yard or so wide 14 minutes in before Rooney was forced into goalline action to deny Dimitar Berbatov's precision header from an Aaron Lennon corner.

We only had to wait until the 24th minute for Edwin van der Sar to be picking the ball out of the back of his net. Michael Dawson delivered a superb ball that split the protective wall and set Lennon scurrying away. The winger set over a low searching cross with considerable power that beat the Dutch goalkeeper and was pounced upon by Keane and Spurs voices were filling the Manchester air.

Lennon later had another chance on the break foiled by Van der Sar but Ryan Giggs was then involved in two passages of play, the second leading to a leveller. After blasting over the bar the Welsh international was able to hold up the ball and fend off Lee after a Dawson header in retreat went skywards.

Giggs saw to it that the onrushing Carlos Tevez was able to steer past Cerny and into the corner of the net without obstruction on 38 minutes.

Jenas had the chance to send us in at half-time with the lead restored after Steed Malbranque set him off and running, but he was forced wide and his shot ended up being a little on the tame side.

There was nothing tame about Lennon's run a couple of minutes into the second half, Patrice Evra was left in his wake and the winger ended up chipping for the top corner and the ball ended up skimming the roof of the net. O'Hara then gave Van der Sar some concern from a free-kick that his left foot curled about a foot or so wide of the wall before Jenas was clear on goal again, but this time his finish was wayward after Keane's flick set him free.
Ronaldo nearly roused the home support by drilling into the sidenetting from a Tevez throughball, before Chris Gunter was introduced in place of Lee, slotting into his favoured right-back berth.

In the 67th minute Dawson could not connect with a header inside the area falling backwards under pressure from Rooney following a long clearance from Van der Sar. On his way down Daws' hand made contact with the ball and referee Mr Walton awarded a penalty - converted by Ronaldo - and issued a straight red card to the defender.

From being well in the contest it became ten men and a goal behind, while Kevin Boateng took over from Lennon shortly afterwards.

Jermain Defoe came on in place of the excellent Teemu Tainio with nine minutes left on the clock as we went for it - three up front and the gamble of leaving huge holes at the back.

It almost paid off when Malbranque clipped a cross in from the left corner of the box, Berbatov went for it with Brown and diverted a volley onto the post with Van der Sar motionless.

That would have been no less than we deserved but we then suffered the late blow of conceding a third goal.