24/01/2009 19:05, Report by Ben Hibbs
United 2 Spurs 1
United’s quest for five major trophies continues apace in spite of a crippling injury list, as the Reds beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the FA Cup fourth round.
Harry Redknapp’s men took a surprise early lead through Roman Pavlyuchenko, but United’s first half display was otherwise outstanding as goals from Paul Scholes (albeit via a wicked deflection off Tom Huddlestone) and Dimitar Berbatov against his former club secured the win.
Even with injuries limiting Sir Alex’s selections, the boss has the ability to surprise with his line-ups. Fabio, twin brother of Rafael who has impressed this season, was drafted in for his debut at left-back, with John O’Shea moving across the back four to right-back. Fellow teenager Danny Welbeck was asked to play in a wide-right position. While not his preferred position, it isn’t an altogether unfamiliar role for the 18-year-old forward who played there in his first season with the U18s. The six changes to United’s line-up from the midweek victory over Derby County are a sign of how injuries have hit the Reds, but Sir Alex could still boast nine internationals in his starting eleven.
Redknapp has also struggled with injuries. But, despite widespread reports that he would field his weakest available team, he made only three changes to the team that, despite losing 3-2 to Burnley on Wednesday, booked their place in the Carling Cup final against United on 1 March with a 6-4 aggregate victory.
With selection problems for both teams it was little surprise that the game was open from the start. But it was Tottenham who made the first coherent attack, and scored from it. Having penned United into the corner, Huddlestone's cross from the left saw Pavlyuchenko do what so few forwards have this season – beat Nemanja Vidic to a header. And the Russian’s glancing touch took the ball past the stranded Ben Foster.
The goal came after just five minutes and sparked the