Manchester United came from behind to deal Tottenham’s top four hopes a major blow with a 3-1 victory in a match tainted by more VAR controversy.
A lacklustre first period burst into life in dramatic fashion on 34 minutes when Edinson Cavani tucked home Paul Pogba’s pass. However, a VAR review resulted in the referee harshly ruling out the strike for a foul on Son Heung-min by Scott McTominay in the build up.
Son then duly rubbed salt in the visitors’ wounds just minutes later when he capped his first start since recovering from a hamstring injury by firing home Lucas Moura’s unselfish pass.
United responded in the right manner and deservedly levelled on 57 minutes when Fred smashed in the rebound after Hugo Lloris had made a fine save to deny Cavani.
The visitors continued to look the better side and it was probably quite fitting that Cavani was the man to turn it around with a superb diving header 11 minutes from time before substitute Mason Greenwood made sure of the points in injury time.
The result sees Spurs stay seventh, but they are now six points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham.
United, who are seven points ahead of third-placed Leicester, extend their unbeaten away run in the league to 23 matches and cut the gap to leaders Manchester City to 11 points with a game in hand.
The Red Devils will now switch their attention to the second leg of their Europa League quarter final at home to Granada on Thursday night. Spurs visit Everton in the Premier League on Friday.
‘Sonny is very lucky his father is a better man than Solskjaer’ – Mourinho
TALKING POINT – VAR strikes yet again
It seems like a high-profile football match can’t conclude without a touch of VAR drama nowadays. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to affect the result and thankfully, this proved to be one of those occasions. McTominay was really unfortunate to be penalised for an accidental stray arm that barely caught Son. It resulted in a deliciously worked United goal being ruled out – and Spurs made the most of the reprieve as the man who had apparently been fouled got that opening goal.
Whether it be fans on social media, pundits or journalists, the uproar at the decision was evident at half time and shows that VAR really can do more harm than good at times. It resulted in the PGMOL releasing a statement to explain the decision at the interval, claiming: “It wasn’t part of McTominay’s natural running movement and was careless.”
United were clearly furious at the bizarre incident but hit back with an emphatic second-half showing. They have lost just once in 25 league matches and look all set to finish as the best of the rest behind neighbours Man City. They remain the only unbeaten side in Europe’s top five leagues this term, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will continue to be questioned until they can land trophies.
As for Spurs, this was a bit of a disaster. They were far too passive after taking the lead and got what they deserved. The knives will be sharpened for Jose Mourinho after this and it’s going to take something special to snare a top four berth from here – and that could have some concerning implications in relation to Harry Kane’s future.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Edinson Cavani (Manchester United)
Led the line superbly. Brushed off the huge frustration of his disallowed goal and eventually got his reward with a magnificent header that turned the game the visitors’ way. His future remains in doubt, but on this evidence United should do all they can to get another season out of the Uruguayan.
Man Utd: Henderson 8, Wan-Bissaka 8, Lindelof 6, Maguire 7, Shaw 8, Pogba 8, Fred 7, McTominay 7, Fernandes 7, Rashford 6, Cavani 8. Subs: Greenwood 8, Matic n/a.
‘Jose and I are friends’ – Solskjaer on Mourinho spat
34’ – MAN UNITED GOAL RULED OUT! Cavani races on to Pogba’s clever pass and slips it under the keeper. Son is lying on the floor as it happens. Replays show McTominay caught him while holding off the Spurs man’s challenge in the build up to the goal. VAR checks and asks the referee to check the monitor. After another lengthy delay, the official chalks it off. Harsh.
40’ – GOAL! – Tottenham 1-0 Man United (Son Heung-min). Son slots in at the far post after Lucas had squared Kane’s lovely flick into his path.
57’ – GOAL! – Tottenham 1-1 Man United (Fred). Fred hammers home the rebound after Lloris did well to deny Cavani’s low strike. It was brilliant one-touch football to create the opening.
60’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Spurs almost regain the lead. Aurier’s foray forward ends with his shot being blocked. It falls for Son who sees his low drive beaten away by Henderson’s legs.
67’ – MAN UNITED CHANCE! How has that stayed out? Shaw’s diagonal ball is hooked back into Pogba by Fernandes, but the Frenchman somehow fails to convert from close range.
79’ – GOAL! – Tottenham 1-2 Man United (Cavani). Cavani powers a diving header beyond Lloris after delightful play from Fernandes and Greenwood on the right.
84’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Spurs almost pull it back. Pogba inadvertently flicks on a Tottenham corner and Cavani’s touch comes back off his own post!
90+6’ – GOAL! – Tottenham 1-3 Man United (Greenwood). That will seal it! Greenwood shifts it to his right inside the area and lashes a low drive beyond Lloris. It came after brilliant foot work from Pogba in the build up.
- Greenwood is the first teenager to score and assist as a substitute for Manchester United in a Premier League match since Cristiano Ronaldo in November 2003 (against Portsmouth).
- Five of Edinson Cavani’s seven Premier League goals for Manchester United have been headed; indeed, only Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored more headed goals in this season’s competition (six) than the Uruguayan.
- In English top-flight history, Manchester United’s current 23-game unbeaten run away from home in the league (W15 D8) is bettered only by a 27-game run from Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004.
- Spurs have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, second only to Brighton (20). It’s the most points a José Mourinho side has dropped from winning positions in a single Premier League campaign.
- Mourinho has suffered 10 league defeats in a single season for the first time in his entire managerial career.