Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United: Erik ten Hag’s side had another tough challenge as Son Heung-min Spurs saved a point in a spirited second half
Ryan Mason may not have hurt his chances of a Tottenham job, if only because he spared Daniel Levy further anger. An evening that risked degenerating into a real turmoil against the president instead saw the hosts regain some pride. It could very well heighten anti-Glazer protests ahead of the final bid deadline, as Manchester United unerringly swept away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2. It’s unlikely to matter much to the Champions League run, a strange and gradually enjoyable match reflected a disproportionate amount of where the two clubs are.
United have the foundations of something but they are not there yet, with ownership uncertainty weighing above all else, not least investment in an unsuitable team. Tottenham Hotspur really only have two or three stars in an unsuitable team, but they still have their pride.
The one thing fans of both clubs have in common is a general disquiet about all of this. The first half was constantly chanted by United fans chanting to the Glazers while the home fans followed along with Levy. All of this came when the result looked like a foregone conclusion with United 1-0 and then 2-0, until Mason came up with something else from Spurs.
He was all the more impressive considering how badly they started the match, although he says a lot that somehow it went much better than Sunday. In the same phase where Jadon Sancho swerved in the first of this game, Spurs were already 2-0 down against Newcastle. And that was after seven minutes. If United hadn’t quite enjoyed the same early rush, remember Mason’s side had some of the same issues. Their defense opened up again. Sancho took his goal well but he had so much room to choose his place.
It was the strangeness of so much of the game that made the return all the more obvious. There were long periods in the first half where it looked like United could subject Spurs to a Newcastle-like defeat, but never really tried. It left Mason’s team in a game they would have long been out of — twice.
This was also illustrated by the manner in which the second goal was scored. Spurs were basically up front, again down a left flank which offered plenty of chances throughout, only for Ivan Perisic to miss control of the ball. United came up just the other end and scored.
Again, there was hardly a hindrance to Marcus Rashford, let alone a challenge. The striker smashed the ball past Fraser Forster in the center of the net.
Spurs were booed at half-time, with the music chosen to drown out the Stone Roses’ “Fool’s Gold” sound. One of Manchester’s most famous bands, mostly associated with United.
It was, to be fair, about as bad as it got for Spurs.
The difference in the second half was remarkable. They tore United apart and there were times when they looked like a serious team again. The goal was real quality – especially when he meant it. Pedro Porro looked a little surprised himself as the ball flew out of his shoe and headed straight into the corner with little room.
It was coming and then Spurs kept going. Son Heung-Min dived in with a brilliantly crafted move to send the ball wide. United had to get bodies on the line to block the thunderous shots. Eric Dier, responsible for Rashford’s goal, somehow missed a loose header by a few metres.
The thing was, the odds stacked. A performance that was almost devoid of intensity became one in which Spurs’ chances and goals seemed inevitable.
Son eventually produced. The occasion had actually produced a football match.
It was invigorating enough that most of them were too swamped to sing about executives, but it must have reminded Ten Hag how much he needs. Mason, meanwhile, reminded Spurs of what they should be addressing. Levy will be only too glad the night wasn’t for him anymore. Friday, meanwhile, is all about United’s future. It could change occasions like this.