Spurs break OT hoodoo
Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen (centre) celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal
Spurs found themselves 2-0 and 3-1 ahead, but as United closed the gap and piled on the pressure it seemed inevitable that the visitors would crumble under another comeback from the team in red, but somehow Andre Villas-Boas’ side held on for a remarkable victory.
Spurs got off to the perfect start when makeshift left-back Jan Vertonghen was allowed to surge forward and score with a low shot that deflected into the net off Jonny Evans in just the second minute of the match.
Gareth Bale made it 2-0 just past the half hour mark, powering past Rio Ferdinand before scoring with a low right-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net. United’s first half performance was an abject one and it was inevitable they would improve after the break – and a certain blasting from manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Wayne Rooney was introduced off the bench at the start of the second half and had an almost immediate impact, providing a great cross for Nani to pull a goal back in the 51st minute.
Yet Spurs restored their two-goal advantage just a minute later, with Clint Dempsey scoring his first for the London club by sweeping home a rebound after Anders Lindegaard had saved a low Bale shot.
United went up to the other end and immediately made it 3-2, scoring through Shinji Kagawa after a fine through-ball from Robin van Persie. Three goals in three minutes left the Old Trafford crowd reeling.
Rooney almost levelled the game on the hour mark through Rooney, who had the beating of Brad Friedel from a free kick but saw his effort rebound off the upright. Van Persie then had a great chance on 69 minutes but dragged his shot wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.
United laid siege to the Spurs goal in what remained of the game, but the closest they came to an equaliser was glancing header from Michael Carrick that rebounded off the crossbar, while Friedel made a couple of excellent saves.