Worryingly, Aaron Lennon was afforded similar space to run at United's defence just six minutes later. This time, however, a last-ditch tackle by Ferdinand prevented Spurs from doubling their advantage.
Tottenham's persistent pressing caused plenty of problems and, consequently, United's bouts of possession were frustratingly brief. Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Shinji Kagawa, in particular, were hounded at the earliest opportunity.
Robin van Persie suffered a blow to his ankle in a collision with William Gallas in the Spurs penalty area but was able to continue following treatment. But there was precious little goalmouth action for the home fans to cheer.
Instead, Vertonghen came close to netting again when he headed over Gareth Bale's wide free-kick before Bale himself added a sublime second on 32 minutes.
Again a Spurs player was given too much room in which to operate, and Bale's attack from 40 yards – a surging run into the space left between Ferdinand and Patrice Evra – ended with the Welshman shooting calmly across Lindegaard from 15 yards.
The noise levels inside Old Trafford rose as the home fans, sensing they could play a part in another famous fightback, found their voice. But there was no reward before the break, despite a strong penalty appeal when Nani tangled with Vertonghen on 43 minutes.
Rooney replaced Giggs at the interval and made an instant impact, crossing for Nani to sidefoot home on 51 minutes. Barely 90 seconds later, the Reds