Manchester United took second spot and relegated early Barclays Premier League leaders Tottenham Hotspur into third place with a fine 3-1 away victory at White Hart Lane this evening.
Jermaine Defoe continued his rich vein of recent form, and stunned Manchester United with a spectacular overhead volley to put Spurs ahead after a couple of minutes. Some fans were still taking their seats.
However, pretty soon, the White Hart Lane faithful began to see why this Man Utd side lifted the Barclays Premier League title last season: the boys can play football. United zipped the ball around and, to Spurs fans’ obvious consternation – for the Tottenham Old Boy was booed with every touch – Dimitar Berbatov began to look like a potent threat.
It had been coming when United opened their account from a Ryan Giggs free kick.
More good work from Berbatov led to his being brought down just outside the home team’s penalty area. While Rooney addressed the ball, it was Giggs who stepped up and curled the ball home into the top corner of Carlo Cudicini’s Spurs net.
Cudicini would be the best player for Spurs in this first half, and he had to be smart on half an hour when Berbatov hit a volley which was heading for the top left corner of his goal – the Italian stopper tipped the ball over well.
The Spurs ‘keeper could have no answer, however, after Paul Scholes’ shot rebounded to Anderson towards the end of the first half. The Brazilian cooly passed the ball into the net and scored his first goal for United on the 76th attempt. Not a great return, but Anderson’s muted celebration showed that goals are not his particular priority.
When half time came, it provided some relief for Spurs, as their early goal seemed to have enraged their illustrious visitors. United had played some wonderful, fast flowing football in patches, with the speed of their passing mesmerising at times.
United deserved probably a two goal cushion at the break, but football, the world over, rarely doles out just deserts.
Tottenham resumed the play in the second half with their work cut out, but with the threat of Defoe and Crouch at the head of their attack, it was not inconceivable they might yet get a result from this evening’s match.
This notion was surely reaffirmed and United’s dominance took a knock when Man Utd had Scholes sent off for a second bookable offence on 58 minutes for a tackle on Huddlestone that, while late, was miss-timed by both players.
Arron Lennon, who had been lively in the first half, if a little ball-deprived, seemed to thrive on the additional space afforded by the 10 men United. The Spurs right winger is really developing into a top-class footballer now that he is producing more end result from his speedy, mazey runs.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Man United scored next to take a two goal advantage, through the irrepressible Wayne Rooney, who had threatened on more than one occasion already.
Rooney picked up the ball just outside the Spurs area, and twisted and turned two defenders before nutmegging Carlo Cudicini, who had previously saved well from Rooney low to his right ten minutes before. This goal, on 78 minutes, gave United an unassailable lead.
Rooney’s goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Tottenham, who failed to string together another attack of merit before the final whistle.
With this victory, Manchester United put Spurs into third place, leapfrogging them into second – the wheels are seemingly firmly replaced on the United title machine.
Barclays Premier League Current Standings
The Barclays Premier League table currently looks like this:
- Chelsea – 15 Pts
- Man Utd – 12 Pts
- Man City – 12 Pts
- Tottenham – 12 Pts
- Liverpool – 9 Pts
- Sunderland – 9 Pts
- Stoke – 7 Pts
- Arsenal – 6 Pts
- Aston Villa – 6 Pts
- Wigan – 6 Pts
- Burnley – 6 Pts
- West Ham – 4 Pts
- Blackburn – 4 Pts
- Birmingham – 4 Pts
- Wolverhampton – 4 Pts
- Hull – 4 Pts
- Bolton – 3 Pts
- Fulham – 3 Pts
- Everton – 3 Pts
- Portsmouth – 0 Pts