Manchester United put in their best performance to date under Erik ten Hag to secure a comfortable 2-0 Premier League win over Tottenham at Old Trafford, with impressive performances all over the pitch from those dressed in red as Fred and Bruno Fernandes both netted.
Having been ultimately been frustrated against Newcastle at the weekend, United did nearly all of the early attacking and peppered the Spurs goals with shots in the opening stages – some off target, but plenty on target as well – by half-time their 19 shots was the most a United side had managed since Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge nearly a decade ago.
Hugo Lloris had to be alert to tip a spectacular drive from Fred over the bar, while Antony looked a real source of danger and hit the foot of the post with a curling effort. Marcus Rashford, who had struggled to get into the game in the opening 20 minutes, then brought a great save out of Lloris after being put through by an incisive Fred pass.
A Bruno Fernandes free-kick also tested Lloris, although the theatrical dive and parry arguably wasn’t as necessary as the Spurs captain made it look. But it was necessary not long after when Luke Shaw’s volley was destined for the top corner and Lloris’ fingertips diverted the ball over. Casemiro also went close when his fierce shot from distance flashed just wide of the post.
Spurs didn’t test David de Gea until the very end of the first half, with the Spaniard beating away a powerful near-post effort from Harry Kane.
United were good enough to be ahead in the first half but it was only moments into the second half when Fred’s breakthrough came, a well-worked move that involved Antony and Jadon Sancho, even if the eventual shot was heavily deflected to beat a wrongfooted Lloris.
It could have been 2-0 almost straightaway but for Lloris’ strong right hand to deny Rashford.
The intensity that Ten Hag has been asking for was there to see as United players worked hard to keep Tottenham pinned into their own half and strangle any service to Kane or Son Heung-min.
It eventually was 2-0 thanks to Fernandes’ fine strike, gently guiding a volley into the far corner beyond the reach of Lloris after Fred’s shot came back off Eric Dier. The referee played a significant part, signalling advantage after Kane had been flagged offside rather than stopping for a free-kick.
Lloris was the only thing keeping the score-line respectable as the game wore on, again somehow throwing out a strong hand to push a fierce close-range shot from Rashford round the post. United did have the ball in the net when Fernandes rounded Lloris, only to see the offside flag rule it out.
Antonio Conte waited too long to make changes for Spurs and the final moments of the game ultimately petered out with United in full control.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Not tested until the stroke of half-time.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 8/10 – Up and down the right flank doing well on both sides of the ball. Really impressive.
CB: Raphael Varane – 7/10 – Elegant defending usually shut Spurs down before a sniff of danger was even visible.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – Positive and commanding.
LB: Luke Shaw – 7/10 – Almost scored an outstanding goal and showed he is well worth a place in this team.
CM: Casemiro – 8/10 – Patrolled the midfield as a defensive screen but also contributed to attacks in meaningful ways.
CM: Fred – 9/10 – Threatened to score long before he did and seemed to thrive in a role with more creative license.
RM: Antony – 7/10 – Hit the post in the first half. Faded a little after half-time.
AM: Bruno Fernandes (c) – 9/10 – Limited to shots from distance in the first half but pulled creative strings for United and scored a magnificent goal.
LM: Jadon Sancho – 7/10 – Assisted Fred’s goal with a clever layoff. Probably the least involved of the front four though.
ST: Marcus Rashford – 7/10 – Back in the starting XI after illness and was prepared to work hard pressing from the front. Forced saves from Lloris.
SUB: Scott McTominay (76′ for Antony) – 6/10
SUB: Anthony Elanga (87′ for Sancho) – N/A
SUB: Christian Eriksen (87′ for Casemiro) – N/A
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 9/10 – The balance of his team worked extremely well, especially in midfield where Fred had more freedom to roam. The decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo back to the bench was vindicated.
GK: Hugo Lloris (c) – 9/10 – Unlucky to end up on the losing team because he made incredible save after incredible save.
CB: Cristian Romero – 4/10 – Too passive and not his best night.
CB: Eric Dier – 4/10 – Too slow to close Fernandes down for the killer second goal. Didn’t make himself big to block either.
CB: Ben Davies – 4/10 – Gave the ball away a few times and it was his unfortunate deflection that contributed to the breakthrough goal.
RWB: Matt Doherty – 4/10 – Struggled to get involved.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 4/10 – Didn’t see that much of the ball and lost too many 50/50 duels.
CM: Yves Bissouma – 4/10 – Struggled to lay a glove on Casemiro or Fred in the central midfield battle.
CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 5/10 – Careful with possession but didn’t have energy to keep up with United.
LWB: Ivan Perisic – 5/10 – Had to do much defensive work to track Dalot to properly get forward himself.
ST: Harry Kane – 4/10 – Had Spurs’ only real chance (his second shot would have been offside) and was denied much service.
ST: Son Heung-min – 3/10 – Pretty anonymous but also lacked quality in the moments he did have a chance to be involved.
SUB: Lucas Moura (82′ for Bissouma) – N/A
SUB: Davinson Sanchez (82′ for Dier) – N/A
SUB: Ryan Sessegnon (82′ for Doherty) – N/A
SUB: Oliver Skipp (89′ for Bentancur) – N/A
SUB: Djed Spence (89′ for Perisic) – N/A
Manager: Antonio Conte – 4/10 – Waited far too long to make any changes when it clearly wasn’t working.
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