Manchester United denied former manager Jose Mourinho as they drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur on their return to Premier League action on Friday evening.
Steven Bergwijn gave Spurs a first-half lead as he struck past David De Gea for his third Premier League goal since signing from PSV Eindhoven. Bruno Fernandes, who was excellent throughout the clash, got the equaliser late on from the penalty spot following a push on substitute Paul Pogba. It looked like he would have another opportunity to score as the Red Devils were awarded another even later spot kick but VAR intervened to overturn the decision and make sure both sides took a share of the spoils.
Lloris produces first-half stops
The first opportunity of the game did take a awhile to arrive but once it did, Hugo Lloris reacted well to deny the visitors. Fernandes’ ball in was poorly cleared by Davinson Sanchez and fell to Marcus Rashford, who had justifiably been dominating the headlines before the match. He aimed for the bottom corner but the Spurs stopper did well to parry the ball with his feet.
The Frenchman also held firm as Fernandes too tried his luck but it was a comfortable collect in the end.
Bergwijn blasts Spurs ahead
Those saves really did come in useful as Mourinho’s men edged ahead. Picking up the ball midway in the United half, Bergwijn powered into the penalty area and fired in, with a touch from David De Gea not enough to keep the ball from slamming into the back of the net.
The hosts almost got a second as well as Heung-Min Son found space at the back post but his header was palmed over the crossbar by the United goalkeeper.
Defensive rearguard from Spurs
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils were somewhat improved after the break, with Fernandes still looking the most likely to produce some inspiration. The Portuguese went extremely close to equalising as his low, first-time effort shaved the base of the Spurs post.
The former Sporting man’s pass into Anthony Martial also almost proved decisive but the Frenchman had his effort blocked away by Eric Dier as Spurs held onto their slender advantage.
Lloris then had to intervene as the ball fell to his compatriot in the penalty area and he aimed for the top corner. The Spurs stopper somehow leapt across his line though to tip the shot over the crossbar.
Bruno hits the equaliser
With the Red Devils getting closer and closer to an equaliser, Solskjaer was then able to introduce the returning Pogba and he proved pivotal in the leveller. Taking on Dier, the Frenchman jinked to the byline and was seemingly pushed, seeing a penalty, albeit a soft one, awarded. Having been United’s star performer throughout the game, Fernandes stepped up and blitzed the ball into the bottom corner.
The visitors thought they had an even later penalty as Fernandes was this time the man to go to ground under the challenge of Dier. It was initially given by the referee but VAR intervened and instead corrected the decision, to the immense relief of Spurs and Mourinho.
Mason Greenwood had an opportunity to win the game in the final seconds as he picked up the ball, shifted onto his right foot but could only drag his shot inches wide as both sides claimed a well-deserved point.
On reflection, a draw was probably a fair result. Allowing for their poor performance before half-time, United were much improved after the break, with Spurs’ Fernandes’ penalty late on breaking Spurs’ tenacious defence. There were opportunities late on but this was more down to the fitness of the players as opposed to the respective quality of both United and Spurs. They now remain two and six points respectively away from the top six.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (7); Davies (7), Dier (6), Sanchez (6), Aurier (7); Winks (6), Sissoko (7); Bergwijn (7) (Lo Celso (5), 70′), Lamela (6) (G. Fernandes (5), 70′), Son (6); Kane (6).
Manchester United: De Gea (5); Shaw (6), Maguire (5), Lindelöf (6) (Matic (N/A), 78′), Wan-Bissaka (6); Fred (6) (Pogba (7), 63′), McTominay (7) (Bailly (N/A), 89′), B. Fernandes (8); Rashford (6), James (6) (Greenwood (63′), Martial (6) (Ighalo (N/A), 78′).
Goals: Bergwijn (27′), B. Fernandes PEN (81′)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Yellow Cards: James (41′)
Red Cards: N/A