United’s young charges put last week’s Champions League defeat to Besiktas well and truly behind them with a solid display against a near-full strength Tottenham Hotspur side which booked a spot in the Carling Cup semi-finals.
A first-half double from Darron Gibson, who fired two fine efforts past the helpless Heurelho Gomes in the Spurs goal, was enough to seal victory over the same side United beat in the final to claim the trophy last season.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who was once again watching from the stands as he completed his two-game touchline ban, stuck with a number of those youngsters who had been harshly criticised after the Besiktas defeat last week – in fact eight of those who started against the Turks kept their place. The only new names on the teamsheet were Tomasz Kuszczak who remained in goal following an impressive display in the weekend's league win at Portsmouth, Ritchie De Laet who filled in at left-back, and Dimitar Berbatov who made his first appearance for a month after an injury.
United came bursting out of the blocks with Anderson dispossessing Wilson Palacios in midfield after just 50 seconds. The Brazilian burst forward before firing a low drive just wide of Gomes’ right-hand post.
It was a promising start from the Reds, but with Tottenham at virtually full strength it wasn’t long before the visitors had their first sight of goal. Robbie Keane collected possession in midfield and slotted a pass to the in-form Jermain Defoe who prompted a smart save from Kuszczak after a well-struck shot.
Another sweetly-hit effort broke the deadlock on 16 minutes and gave United the advantage albeit against the run of play. Anderson was found by Park on the left wing and although the Brazilian was fouled by David Bentley, referee Mark Clattenburg intelligently allowed play to go on as Gibson collected the ball 20 yards out and drilled a fine drive