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11 December 2016|Tottenham Hotspur

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's first-half strike proved the difference between the sides as we slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon (December 11).

The Manchester United midfielder pounced just prior to the half-hour mark after we surrendered possession sloppily in the centre circle, with Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen having earlier denied Paul Pogba and Mkhitaryan respectively as we failed to turn our greater possession into chances.

Our best opportunity of the game arrived shortly after half-time as the unmarked Victor Wanyama headed wastefully down into the ground and across goal at the back post from Christian Eriksen's free-kick.

But still we struggled to really threaten in the attacking areas and Pogba might have doubled United’s lead twice, first striking the woodwork with a thunderous free-kick before Lloris pulled off another very good stop to deny the former Juventus man moments later.

Substitute Moussa Sissoko was finding space down the right and supplied his fair share of crosses into the area but David De Gea wasn't unduly troubled in the closing stages as the home side secured the points.

Team news

Mauricio Pochettino made two changes to the team that started against CSKA Moscow at Wembley on Wednesday night. Toby Alderweireld came in for Eric Dier at centre-half for his first appearance in the Premier League since October 15 while Mousa Dembele was back in for Harry Winks in central midfield. Dier and Winks were named on the bench alongside fit-again Ben Davies.

Key action

Save: Lloris keeps out Pogba – 2mins
Pogba missed the opportunity to put Jose Mourinho’s side ahead early on. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s low cross fell to the unmarked France midfielder on the edge of the box, but his left-footed effort was hit straight at Lloris. At the other end, De Gea was called upon to keep out Eriksen’s free-kick but it was United who were fashioning the better chances and only a vital block from Vertonghen denied Mkhitaryan the opener after a well-worked move from the hosts.

Goal: United 1-0 Spurs – Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 29mins
Efforts from Michael Carrick and Anthony Martial lifted the Old Trafford crowd and the home side responded with a goal just shy of the half-hour mark. We gave possession away cheaply in midfield, allowing Ander Herrera to play Mkhitaryan through on goal and he blasted past Lloris from inside the area.

Above: Toby Alderweireld battles with Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Chance: De Gea tips over Son effort – 36min
United’s lead could have been cancelled out nine minutes before the interval if not for De Gea. Heung-Min Son cut inside from the right wing and dispatched a high, left-footed effort on target, but De Gea stretched to tip it over.

Chances: Eriksen and Wanyama come close – 54-55mins
We started the second-half brightly with Eriksen’s strong shot forcing De Gea to punch the ball away, but Wanyama should have levelled soon afterwards. Eriksen’s free-kick found the unmarked Kenyan international midfielder at the back post, but he got his header all wrong and United cleared their lines.

Woodwork and save: Pogba denied by crossbar… and Lloris – 63-64mins
The home side looked to put the game to bed with Pogba rattling the crossbar with a powerful free-kick that had Lloris rooted to the spot, but our French number one was there once more to deny his compatriot with a fine save to keep out Pogba’s driven half-volley from inside the box a minute later. Goalscorer Mkhitaryan was carried off in the closing stages after picking up an injury under a Danny Rose challenge but we couldn’t muster a response and Mourinho’s men claimed the victory.

Mauricio Pochettino said

"It was a close game, they were more clinical than us in the boxes and it’s for that reason we lost the game. It’s always the case in football and when you play a team like Manchester United, it’s always important to be clinical when you have the opportunities to score. It was a very competitive game, a game where we’re disappointed with the result but not the performance."

Hugo Lloris said

"It’s never easy to come to Old Trafford. It’s a huge club but on the field, we don’t feel the difference. This is our level and sometimes the result can depend on mistakes, on moments. Manchester United didn’t make mistakes, defensively they applied themselves and it was the same for us. We just need to learn about this game and look forward to Hull on Wednesday night."

The most important thing was that we fought until the end of the game, we were unlucky not to achieve a better result.

Mauricio Pochettino

Match data

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick (c), Herrera (Fellaini 90+7); Mkhitaryan (Bailly 85), Pogba, Martial (Rashford 72); Ibrahimovic. Substitutes (not used): Romero, Blind, Mata, Rooney.

Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele (Winks 67), Eriksen (Nkoudou 83), Dele, Son (Sissoko 57); Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Wimmer, Davies, Dier.

Goals: Manchester United – Mkhitaryan 29.

Yellow cards: Manchester United – Valencia, Mhitaryan, Pogba; Spurs – Wanyama, Walker, Rose.

Referee: Robert Madley

Attendance: 75,271.

Up next

Hull City visit White Hart Lane on Wednesday for an 8pm kick-off. Last time the promoted side came to the Lane we ran out 2-0 winners in May, 2015, thanks to strikes from Nacer Chadli and Rose. This time, they arrive struggling in the relegation zone and off the back of a 3-3 home draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday.