Late penalty sees United escape with a point in behind-closed-doors bow
Spurs 1-1 Manchester United
Fri 19 June 2020, 22:15|Tottenham Hotspur
Our long-awaited return to Premier League football ended all square against Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday evening.
It was our first action for 102 days since we visited RB Leipzig in the Champions League due to the suspension of football over the Coronavirus pandemic and was played behind closed doors, but we couldn’t return with a victory as we conceded a penalty nine minutes from time to deprive us of all three points.
We had earlier ridden out a spell of pressure from the visitors to take a 27th-minute lead with a fine goal from Steven Bergwijn and almost doubled our advantage, only for David de Gea to deny Heung-Min Son.
In the second half, Hugo Lloris superbly saved from compatriot Anthony Martial, who was also thwarted by an excellent block from Eric Dier but, as it looked like we might hold out for the win, Dier upended Paul Pogba in the area and Bruno Fernandes levelled from the penalty spot to ensure it finished 1-1.
The lengthy break in the sport meant we were able to start four players who would have missed the original game on 15 March through injury – Harry Kane, Son, Moussa Sissoko and Bergwijn all back in the team – with Kane and Sissoko playing their first football since New Year’s Day.
Just moments before kick-off, players, coaches and staff from both sides along with the match officials took a knee to show solidarity in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the wording replacing players’ names on the back of their shirts, in line with all Premier League matches this weekend. Shirts also featured an NHS logo on the front, a gesture of appreciation to the work of the health service during the pandemic.
Once the action got underway, it took a while to really get going as the enforced three-month break due to lockdown played its part in a fairly lethargic opening. The first shot from either side came on 14 minutes when Son dragged an effort which was easily gathered by De Gea. The game opened up and it was the visitors with a bright spell. On 22 minutes, Davinson Sanchez’s headed clearance came quickly to Marcus Rashford whose snap shot from 12 yards was cleared with his legs by Lloris, United recycling the ball and Fred then firing goalwards but it was straight at our skipper. Three minutes later United broke again, Fernandes drilling a low angled shot from the left, Lloris saving well low down.
We had rarely threatened… but then took the lead. There were 27 minutes on the clock when Lloris’ long clearance was headed back into our half by Luke Shaw and as Rashford and Serge Aurier contested the ball, it bounced into Bergwijn’s path some 40 yards from the United goal. The Dutch international immediately drove forwards, cut inside Harry Maguire and was suddenly through on goal, advancing into the area and lashing in off De Gea.
The visitors nearly levelled straight away when a free-kick into our area almost found Rashford but we scrambled the danger away before we went close again at the other end on 32 minutes. Bergwijn was released away down the right, his perfect deep cross found Son whose header looked to be going in until De Gea popped up a hand to push it over the bar. It wasn’t until the final seconds of the half that either side carved out another opportunity and it fell to United as their most influential player Fernandes hit a long-ranger which swerved and bounced just in front of Lloris, but the keeper showed great concentration to gather the ball.
The second period also began slowly and it was also the visitors who had a string of chances during a good spell 10 minutes in. First, Fernandes’ low raking shot from 20 yards fizzed just wide of Lloris’ far post and 10 minutes later the United midfielder threaded an excellent pass in to Martial, who took a touch and went to shoot but Dier slid in to produce a superb block and Lloris snaffled up the loose ball. Just moments later, the ball fell to Martial again inside the area and his left-footed shot on the swivel was magnificently tipped over by our number one.
We made a double substitution on 70 minutes to freshen things up and try to stem the United tide that was flowing towards our goal, Giovani Lo Celso and Gedson on for Lamela and Bergwijn. It worked temporarily as we had a spell of possession but with nine minutes remaining, the visitors won a penalty. Substitute Pogba’s quick feet saw him trick his way past Dier tight to the byline on the right and as the defender came back with the challenge, he was deemed to have bundled over the United midfielder and referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot. Fernandes stepped up and sent Lloris the wrong way to level the scores.
There was late drama in the 89th minute when Rashford played the ball into the area, Dier stepped in to clear from Fernandes, who went tumbling and the referee again awarded a penalty. But VAR overturned the decision as no contact was made by Dier and the game resumed all square with five minutes of stoppage time added. It became quite frantic for the closing minutes, mostly in the midfield battle as both sides searched for a winner and it was the visitors who almost snatched it, substitute Mason Greenwood hitting a low shot which beat Lloris but also the far post and it ended honours even, a result which leaves us in eighth place in the table, six points off the top four.
It was almost the second penalty incident which was going to be the key moment of the game, until VAR intervened and overturned the decision. Instead, United’s 81st-minute goal from the spot was to prove pivotal as it broke our defensive resistance just when it looked like we might hold on to Bergwijn’s opener.
Jose Mourinho told Spurs TV afterwards: "I thought we were very, very good, strong, fresh in our attacking units, and then in the last 20 minutes when they started making their changes and pushing a bit more... I didn’t have on the bench Lucas and Dele, or if they’d started, Son or Lamela or Bergwijn, so for us it was difficult. We wanted to press like we did in the first half and our four attacking players, they were a little bit in trouble. Even so, the team fought in the last 20 minutes. The team was very compact and only a very strange penalty gave them a goal."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Spurs 1-1 Manchester United
Spurs (4-3-3): Lloris (c), Aurier, Dier, Sanchez, Davies, Winks, Sissoko, Lamela (Gedson 70), Bergwijn (Lo Celso 70), Son, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sessegnon, Ndombele, White, Skipp.
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof (Matic 78), Maguire (c), Shaw, McTominay (Bailly 89), Fred (Pogba 63), Fernandes, James (Greenwood 63), Martial (Ighalo 78), Rashford. Substitutes (not used): Romero, Williams, Mata, Lingard.
Goals: Spurs – Bergwijn 27; United – Fernandes 81 (pen).
Yellow card: United – James 41.
Referee: Jon Moss.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Light cloud, moderate breeze, 12 degrees.