in the second half; just 30 seconds after the restart Defoe engineered space for a shot but fired wide, then Bale curled a shot just over the bar, before Dempsey forced a world-class close-range save, again with his feet, from De Gea.
Tottenham looked lively and dangerous on the break while United’s use of the ball was not as sharp as it could have been. So it was a timely change to call on Wayne Rooney in place of Kagawa after an hour, and the Reds striker had been on the pitch seconds when he had a strong claim for a penalty turned down after tangling with Spurs defender Steven Caulker in the area. The substitution added a little more purpose to United’s play and for a while it put the Reds back on the front foot having been penned in the defensive third for much of the half. Yet United’s lead remained precarious and hearts were in mouths with a little over ten minutes left when Lennon surged forward from the halfway line and fed a pass to Defoe in the area. Just as the Spurs striker pulled the trigger, Rio Ferdinand intervened with a world-class piece of defending to block the shot.
Ferdinand’s challenge had appeared to characterise a desire and determination from United to see out the game. It looked like being a job well done until the ball fell to Dempsey in the area and he levelled the scores with no time for a Red response. United still have a five-point advantage at the top of the league and, although a draw at White Hart Lane might ordinarily be considered positive, under the circumstances it feels like two points dropped rather than one gained.