A two goal defeat tells a tale of familiar defeat at Old Trafford for
Spurs, but fails to tell the whole story behind a loss that seems to be
the fate of any trip to Manchester United for Tottenham, with no
prospect of nay change while there are referees like Clattenburg about.
For all the end result says, Spurs were
almost equal to United for most of the first period and were holding
their own in the second half until Clattenburg delivered the killer
blow, that the home side seemed unable to land. For the second
successive game, the game has been spoiled for the viewing public,
although I am sure the United fans were more than happy with the
From the start, Spurs knocked the ball
around well and looked comfortable in possession, although their final
ball let them down in the long run. United had some swift attacks
and threatened the Tottenham goal, but no more than we did.
It was almost a repeat of the Inter Milan
game, with United going close inside 90 seconds, as the ball was worked
to Park, who was 20 yards out and he let fly with a right foot shot that
beat Gomes, but bounced back into play off the foot of the post.
While not pushed back, Spurs had to defend and two Nani shots came in -
one Gomes saved and the other was wide of the goal, before the ball was
played up to Rafael van der Vaart and while the ball got stuck under his
foot, he soon sorted it out and struck a shot that was out of van der
Sar's reach. Rafael was unlucky to see the ball hit the upright
and come out. VDV followed this with a drive the rose over the bar
a couple of minutes later.
For once Spurs did not look over-awed by
travelling to play United. Perhaps seeing that they could tough it
out with Inter has given them confidence. But when they worked the
ball wide through Lennon and Bale, the balls into the box lacked
conviction and accuracy to pick out white shirts, making it easy for
United to clear the ball from their danger zone.
Thirteen minutes in, Park was once more
provided with a shooting opportunity from the right side of the box and
he shaped to shoot, feinting inside Assou-Ekotto and curling a shot
around the diving Gomes, but fortunately for Spurs around the post too.
Inside the following ten minutes, Rafael joined the attack and dragged a
shot wide of the mark and Carrick had a dig from 25 yards, which Gomes
saved, but had to fall on the ball as it came off him.
Kaboul should have done better from a
corner, won by Bale, who robbed Ferdinand as he tried to let the ball go
out and then Gomes was in action again, diving to stop Fletcher's drive
from the edge of the area. That preceded a shot from the rising
star at United, Hernandez, which kept rising over Gomes' goal. But
just after half an hour, Kaboul was booked for a free kick given away on
the right hand side of the pitch and when it was flighted into the box,
Vidic was allowed a free run on the cross and with only Assou-Ekotto
jumping for the ball, but that with his arm, the header roared past
Gomes to give United the opening goal. It was a soft goal to concede
from a set-piece and one that Spurs are going to have to cut out.
Tottenham did hit back with Modric
pulling out a diving save from van der Sar as he hit a fierce drive from
the edge of the area and when Jenas wriggled into the box, he tried to
curl one around a defender in front of him, but put it well wide.
Just before the break, United had the last chance of the half with a
good move that freed Park on the left and he played in Berbatov, who
brought a low block from Gomes at his near post.
Half-time brought no substitutions, but a
load of fireworks and dancing girls promoting some new United
sponsorship in a typically over the top fashion.
A fairly tentative opening quarter of an
hour in the second half saw Gareth Bale burst into life with a run form
halfway, which took the ball out to the right and United probably
thought the danger had disappeared, but Gareth hit a right foot shot
that went a yard wide of van der Sar's post. Harry almost
immediately brought on Pavlyuchenko for the ineffective Keane and the
laconic Russian almost stunned the home side, with two shots - one that
thudded into the side-netting when he made a yard for himself turning
away from Vidic and the second deflecting off the centre half with the
goalkeeper left flat-footed.
Gomes was still being kept on his toes,
when making saves from Hernandez and a Nani free-kick, before the
Portuguese winger struck another shot wide of the goal. With about
18 minutes left, Assou-Ekotto passed to VDV in the box and a smart turn
brought a shot that had van der Sar diving to make a good save at the
foot of his near post. However, a few minutes later, our Dutch
midfielder's part in this match (and most probably Tuesday's game
against Inter) ended with him limping off the pitch with a hand on his
But that was soon to be the least of our
concerns, as TCC (as he shall now be known) handed United the three
points on a plate. At 0-1 there is always hope of getting a late
equaliser, even though Tottenham's second half performance had been less
than their first half showing. But at 0-2 with six minutes to go,
it was game, set and match as they say in handball. And it was as
blatant a handball as you could wish to see when Nani went down in the
box, hoping for a penalty decision, which he did not get, but was given
an even freer kick at goal when Gomes put the ball down for a free-kick
to Spurs, only for TCC to wave play on. Nani obliged by putting
the ball into an empty net and ran off only to have to wait until the
Spurs player, then TCC and then being joined by Rio Ferdinand to discuss
what the outcome should be.
The Tottenham players had walked away
from the linesman, obviously thinking he was going to tell the ref what
he told them, but they were then furious when TCC ran away pointing to
the centre circle. Maybe Gomes should have been more aware of
whether the whistle had sounded, but maybe TCC should have been more
aware of the laws of the game.
The rest of the game was played out by
United holding onto possession and Nani firing another shot that hit the
top of the bar, but it wouldn't have made a lot of difference if had
Once more, the result at Old Trafford is
massively influenced by a refereeing error.
Will anything ever change ?
Not as long as referees wear black.