And’er that’ll do! Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Richard Piggford
By Richard Piggford April 22, 2018 09:19

And’er that’ll do! Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

By Richard Piggford for EmpowerSports. Magazine.  © 21/04/2018

London has spent much of the week bathed in sunshine and as the sun began to head down for the evening, Wembley was awash with red and white flags as the 5.15pm kick-off approached. Both sets of fans started in great voice, but on the pitch it was Tottenham who would start the brightest. Within the first two minutes Spurs went straight on the offensive, with excellent work from the front three of Son, Eriksen and Kane, who all combined to win Spurs a succession of early corners. That was a sign of things to come, and the early pressure was too soon pay off. Superb footwork and trickery from Christian Eriksen down the right hand side, beating Ashley Young before delivering an inch-perfect cross for the incoming Dele Alli to slide in and fire Spurs into a deserved early lead. 

It was very nearly two, just four minutes later as the goalscorer Alli, tried to pick out Kane at the back post who was inches from connecting and doubling Spurs lead.  The pressure continued with more fine work down the channels from Spurs, as both Son and Eriksen delivered teasing balls. It was Eriksen who was next to go close, his scuffed effort from the edge of the box, narrowly going wide. 

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Dele Alli opens the scoring.

In the 24th minute, totally against the run of the play; Manchester United were back into it. Paul Pogba, playing left of a midfield three, dispossessed Moussa Dembele who dithered on the ball. He then delivered an inch perfect cross for Alexis Sanchez. He nipped in between two Tottenham defenders and powered home a fine header. His celebration clearly showed, just how much it meant to the ex-Arsenal star, who was roundly booed throughout by the Spurs fans. This was the start of a decent spell for the Red Devils , who spent much of the first half soaking up Tottenham pressure. Just three minutes after the goal United almost went ahead. Romelu Lukaku delivered a great cross to the back post that narrowly evaded the head of Jesse Lingard.

In the 33rd minute Spurs tried to execute a training ground set-play move, when Eriken played a short free-kick wide to Trippier. However, a poor first touch and overhit cross meant Manchester United were able to clear the impending danger.

The rest of the first half was much of the same; with Tottenham having a majority of the possession, without taking advantage. However, that very nearly changed in first half stoppage time. The ball popped around the box with series of neat, patient passes, before it broke to Eric Dier, who fired a shot towards goal. Chris Smalling’s rear end, did just about enough to deflect the ball onto the base of the post and United headed into the break, lucky to be level. 

Half time Manchester United  1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

The second half started at a much slower pace than the first half had ended. Both sides lacked quality in possession but it was quickly clear Manchester United, possibly fresh from a Mourinho ear bashing, were much more at the races. In the 53rd minute Manchester United had what appeared a strong penalty appeal turned down, as Jesse Lingard appeared to be clumsily barged over by Jan Vertonghen – referee Anthony Taylor was having none of it, waving away the United appeals. 

Tottenham then went onto have their only real spell of the second half with a period of sustained pressure that seen Christian Eriksen flash one across the face of goal, and Harry Kane twist and turn onto his left foot, before the impressive Phil Jones deflected his effort wide.  

In the 62nd minute came what would end to be the winning goal. Great interchanging play between Alexsis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku in the build up, with the latter laying the ball across goal towards Jesse Lingard who left the ball for the on rushing Ander Herrera to fire Manchester United into a 2-1 lead. Question marks will remain as to whether Michel Vorm should have done better and if he should have even been playing. Regular number and captain Hugo Lloris was again rested in the FA Cup to allow ‘cup goalkeeper’ Vorm to start.

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Ander Herrera celebrates after scoring what would be the winning goal.

From there on in Tottenham huffed and puffed without ever really troubling David De Gea in the Manchester United goal. Mauricio Pochettino made three changes with Lucas Moura, Erik Pamela and Victor Wanyama all introduced in the final twenty  minutes. interestingly, hero of the last round; Fernando Llorente, didn’t even make the bench. Surely a good option to have had available as a substitute, especially the way game panned out. Manchester United also made changes in the second half. Antonio Valencia was intelligently replaced before he was sent off after fouling Dele All and Christian Eriksen on numerous occasions. Matteo Darmian was his replacement who steadied the ship down United’s right hand side. Marcus Rashford replaced Lingard, while Marrouine Fellani came on for the final minute of stoppage time, replacing the excellent Alexis Sanchez.

As the game drew towards its conclusion, and with Manchester United players taking every opportunity to waste time, Spurs’ players frustrations grew and they were summed up in the final minute of the ninety, when the lively Erik Lamela, tried an audacious effort from 30 yards out that sailed high and wide.

And that was that. Manchester United booked their place in Emirates FA Cup on May 19th against the winner of tomorrow’s second semi-final Chelsea and Southampton. 

Teams: 

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia (Darmian, 79) Jones, Smalling, Young, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Lingard (Rashford, 82), Sanchez (Fellaini 90+3), Lukaku.

Unused Subs: Pereira (GK), Lindelof, Mata, Martial,

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies (Moura, 68), Dier, Dembele (Wanyama 78), Eriksen, Alli, Son (Lamela, 78), Kane

Unused Subs: Lloris. Alderwiereld, Sissoko, Aurier,

Manager reaction:

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, speaking to BBC Sport:”

We deserve it. If we split the match into periods we were the best team for many of these periods. Even when they had the ball when we were winning we were totally in control.

“We lost control after the 1-0. At half-time we spoke – we came back late for the second half because we spoke a lot – and organised ourselves.

“We should ask ourselves why there are too many critics on all of us? We can finish second [in the Premier League] by getting six points. To do that with all the fantastic teams we play against will be an achievement for a club that couldn’t do it for a few years now.

“And it will be a fourth final in three years. So, maybe too much criticism.”

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BBC Sport

“I think every defeat is bad. It’s difficult to accept but of course we are disappointed we are out and cannot achieve the final.

“We competed but not enough to win. We dominated the first half and were much better than Manchester United.

“United defended very well and so deep. We are disappointed because we are so close. We need to think, move on, finish the season and try to finish in the top four.

“I think we need to understand where we have come from. It’s easy to talk about winning trophies.

“To win a trophy when you face a side like Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City is not easy. But the most important thing is we are able to compete.”

 

Richard Piggford
By Richard Piggford April 22, 2018 09:19

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