|1||Van der Sar|
The sprint finish for the title is well and truly on as United cranked up the pressure on Chelsea, moving two points clear at the summit of the Barclays Premier League – naturally, not without drama – in a game that went from frustrating to fraught before a Nani-inspired grandstand finish.
Ryan Giggs put United in front from the spot in the second half, but Tottenham equalised through Ledley King and arguably looked like being the team to win it. However, the victory was secured by some brilliance from Nani. The Portuguese winger scored with an audacious chipped finish with nine minutes left, before earning a second penalty for Giggs to convert to ensure a 3-1 win.
That there would be drama and frayed nerves should not have come as a surprise in a topsy-turvy season which took arguably its wildest twist last weekend.
United were seconds away from being out of the title race altogether at Eastlands when the derby was headed for a draw. In the third minute of injury time a Paul Scholes-of-old late dart into the box and header into the bottom corner clinched three points. That dramatic win was capped by Tottenham’s defeat of Chelsea later that day. Game on in the title race.
Tottenham posed a serious risk after their wins over the Blues and Arsenal. As difficult as this fixture already was, it was made more difficult when Wayne Rooney was ruled out with a groin problem. Sir Alex intimated on Friday that he had “one or two doubts”, but Rooney’s availability was only publicly brought to light when he was pictured watching the Under-18s at Carrington on Saturday morning.
His absence was confirmed when the teams were announced, so too was news that Rio Ferdinand was missing again. But Owen Hargreaves’ return on the bench, and the prospect of his first action in 19 months, came as a