Rashford makes it an unhappy United return for Jose
Manchester United 2-1 Spurs
Wed 04 December 2019, 21:34|Tottenham Hotspur
Marcus Rashford's penalty four minutes into the second half clinched the points for Manchester United on Jose Mourinho's first return to Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
The England front man went down under Moussa Sissoko's challenge and picked himself up to fire home his second goal of the night after his early strike was cancelled out by Dele Alli's fourth goal in three matches.
We failed to replicate the attacking verve on display in recent times and had Paulo Gazzaniga to thank for a string of superb saves as we slumped to a 2-1 loss - our first setback since Jose took charge.
United had the better of the first half-an-hour, taking the lead inside six minutes when Jesse Lingard shrugged off Davinson Sanchez in our right-back area and set up Rashford to fire past Gazzaniga at his near post from the left angle. Harry Kane sent a free-kick over the bar for us but that was as good as it got in those early exchanges, with United pressing us back and Gazzaniga putting a real shift in to keep their forwards at bay. Rashford, chief among them, sent his own free-kick narrowly wide and after Mason Greenwood's deflected shot was blocked away by the Argentine international at his near post, Rashford was twice denied by the superb stopper, who first tipped the forward's 25-yard strike onto the crossbar before brilliantly pushing away a right-footed curler as it flew across goal, seemingly destined for the far corner.
Lingard missed by inches from a similar area but we began to push into United territory and grabbed an equaliser on 39 minutes. Jan Vertonghen's cross from the left was touched on to Serge Aurier at the far post, his shot was blocked by David de Gea but Dele brilliantly pulled the falling ball down between Fred and Ashley Young before guiding home from a tight angle on the right. A brief VAR check followed but the goal stood.
You sensed we'd push on from there but we suffered a real blow at the start of the second period when Sissoko was penalised for a challenge on Rashford in the box and the England man slotted the resulting penalty down the middle to restore the hosts' lead on 49 minutes. From there, we weren't able to create any clear-cut chances. Gazzaniga twice made important saves to deny Daniel James from the edge of the box while at the other end, Aurier's drilled effort from the right was straight at De Gea, with Tanguy Ndombele's drive from distance also met by the United stopper down to his left five minutes later. One final half-chance opened up in stoppage time, but Dele was denied by De Gea after chesting down Toby Alderweireld's cross-field pass and chopping an effort towards the far corner - Dele's reaction suggested that was the chance that got away.
We were right back in the game after Dele struck shortly before the break, but any plans to build on that were swiftly thwarted following the resumption when Rashford raced towards the byline in the box in the left channel and after Sissoko's challenge, referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot. There was a near two-minute delay before Rashford took the kick with the match official getting everything in order, but the striker made no mistake when he eventually got the all-clear, firing down the middle as Gazzaniga dived to his right. That was the goal that put United back in front - we weren't able to recover.
Jose Mourinho said: "I think they deserved to win because they were better than us in the first 30 minutes and because they didn’t make a mistake of the level we made for the second goal. Apart from that, I thought we were good in many periods. I think in the second half we were dominant, we moved the ball well, we arrived in the last third, we didn’t have great chances but we had very dangerous positions in the box. Then again, United played the game they wanted to play, defending, compact, trying to create on the counter-attack, but we were punished initially by a lack of intensity, a lack of aggression and then, of course, the second goal is a difficult one to take."
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Manchester United 2-1 Spurs
Manchester United: (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young (c), McTominay, Fred, James, Lingard (Shaw 87), Greenwood (A Pereira 80), Rashford. Substitutes (not used): Romero, Tuanzebe, Williams, Garner, Mata.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Winks (Ndombele 70), Sissoko (Lo Celso 85), Dele, Son, Lucas (Eriksen 64), Kane (c). Substitutes (not used): Austin, Foyth, Rose, Dier.
Goals: Manchester United - Rashford 6, 49 (pen); Spurs - Dele 39.
Yellow card: Spurs - Winks 13.
Referee: Paul Tierney.
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.
Weather: Light cloud, six degrees.