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Still no luck at United

Sat 30 October 2010, 12:00|Tottenham Hotspur

A first half goal and a controversial second a few minutes before the end sealed a 2-0 victory for Manchester United, but the scoreline does not reflect the balance of play at Old Trafford.

A first half goal and a controversial second a few minutes before the end sealed a 2-0 victory for Manchester United, but the scoreline does not reflect the balance of play at Old Trafford.

A Nemanja Vidic header gave the home side the lead but with the game in the balance heading into the closing stages came possibly the most confusing goal of the season so far.

It all started with Nani bursting into the box, taking a tumble and claiming a penalty.

As those appeals were waved away, Nani clearly handled the ball.

Gomes picked the ball up and, no doubt thinking that we'd been awarded a free-kick, threw it down again to clear upfield.

But Nani, still just yards away, simply tapped the ball into the empty net.

Referee Mr Clattenburg awarded the goal, then consulted his linesman, and then let the goal stand.

It was quite a bizarre turn of events and joins the list of misfortune we've had at Old Trafford in recent years including Pedro Mendes' 'goal' that wasn't and the controversial penalty award back in April, 2009, that sparked United's revival from 2-0 down to a 5-2 win.

Hopes were high as we headed to Manchester and Harry Redknapp made two changes from last week's draw against Everton.

Jermaine Jenas was back in midfield for Wilson Palacios while Robbie Keane came in for his second start in the Premier League this term.

United started in a lively fashion with Ji-Sung Park striking Gomes' right-hand upright from around 20 yards with a fizzing low effort, while two claims by Nani for free-kicks were dismissed by referee Mr Clattenburg. Nani did then test Gomes with a low drive that was well fielded by the goalkeeper.

The pace of Aaron Lennon looked set to dissect the home rearguard before a lunging challenge from Darren Fletcher knocked him off course.

On nine minutes Rafael van der Vaart had his international team-mate Edwin van der Sar clutching thin air when he managed to retain possession under pressure and then arrowed a drive towards the top corner, but the ball crashed against the post.

Dimitar Berbatov teed up a chance for Park at the other end that the South Korean did not hit the target with to the obvious displeasure of the Bulgarian, while another former Spur, Michael Carrick, zipped in a shot on 19 minutes that Gomes grabbed at the second attempt.

Luka Modric and Lennon were combining to eye-catching effect and threatened to unlock the United gate with some slick interchange, while the team in red shirts did produce a clever passage of play that resulted in Fletcher forcing another save out of Gomes low to his right.

United took the lead on 30 minutes following a Younes Kaboul challenge that saw him join William Gallas in the referee's notebook. The free-kick was swung over by Nani and the rising Nemanja Vidic steered a powerful header into the bottom corner of the net.

It was not a game the team deserved to be losing because, if anything, they were the more enterprising of the two sides in the first third of the game.

Van der Vaart should have done better when he spun Rio Ferdinand but proceeded to drag his shot before Modric tested the reflexes of van der Sar with a rasping shot from the edge of the area.

Gomes denied Berbatov with a smart block just before the break and the half ended with a one-goal deficit that the performance did not warrant.

The second half picked up in much the same way as the first, with possession pretty much even and approach play good - just lacking in a decisive final ball to really open up defences.

A lung-busting crossfield run from Gareth Bale ended with him shooting back across goal but wide of the mark as Roman Pavlyuchenko readied himself to come on. Robbie made way for the Russian international and the armband was handed to Modric.

Nani couldn't defeat Gomes with a free-kick from the edge of the area after a Jermaine Jenas coming together with Patrice Evra with Jenas making way for Wilson Palacios moments later.

A Kaboul slip led to Nani supplying Hernandez and Gomes had to be alert to prevent a doubling of the advantage for the home side, At the other end, Pavlyuchenko rattled the sidenetting with a speculative effort. Van der Vaart then spun Carrick in the area but could not beat van der Sar at his near post.

A Pavlyuchenko shot that deflected off Vidic left the goalkeeper flat-footed but flew just wide. This was followed by another change after van der Vaart appeared to suffer a hamstring problem and was instantly withdrawn.

Peter Crouch was drafted in but the headlines will be about the bizarre nature of the second goal, scored in the 84th minute.

Nani struck the bar in stoppage time with the team deflated at having yet another decision go against them at Old Trafford.

United: (4-4-1-1): Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva (Brown 64), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Park; Hernandez (Obertan 87); Berbatov (Scholes 64). Unused: Kuszczak, Smalling, O'Shea, Bebe.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Hutton, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas (Palacios, 66), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Crouch, 77); Keane (Pavklyuchenko, 61). Unused subs: Cudicini, Bassong, Sandro, Kranjcar.

Goals: United - Vidic 31, Nani 84.

Attendance: 75,223.

Referee: Mr M Clattenburg.