Tottenham Hotspur 2 Manchester United 0

Saturday 19 August 2023 19:47

Manchester United's maiden away fixture of the new Premier League season resulted in a first defeat, as Tottenham Hotspur recovered from being second best before the break to win 2-0 with a strike from Pape Sarr and Lisandro Martinez's own goal.

To an extent, Erik ten Hag's men produced a better performance than the one which saw off Wolves 1-0 at Old Trafford, certainly from an attacking sense in the opening 45 minutes when Antony, Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Monday's match winner Raphael Varane all went close to scoring.

But Spurs were inspired after half-time, rising to the occasion of the first home game since Ange Postecoglou became manager and their top goalscorer and captain Harry Kane departed for Bayern Munich in a huge summer transfer.

Sarr and Martinez's own goal made the difference to the scoreline but new goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario also played a huge part in the hosts' victory, while the Reds also had cause to rue a VAR check that ruled out a possible penalty in the first period when the score was still 0-0.

Marcus Rashford is denied an early opener by Spurs' new goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.


Warned by Ten Hag to expect a more attacking Spurs under Postecoglou, it was actually the Reds who began the game on the front foot with Antony and Alejandro Garnacho providing real menace from the flanks.

The South American pair fashioned the first two shots of the contest, with Garnacho's effort requiring a save from Vicario. But the summer signing from Empoli made an even better stop to deny Marcus Rashford an opening strike, sticking out a strong hand as the Reds' no.10 attacked his near post.

Moments after Rashford, to his own frustration, directed a free header from Bruno Fernandes's rabona pass over the bar, Onana was called into notable action for the first time when Dejan Kulusevski drilled a low shot on target.

A VAR check favoured Spurs after Garnacho's next attempt was blocked by the raised hands of his compatriot Cristian Romero. Neither referee Michael Oliver or his colleagues at Stockley Park felt it was a penalty, to the bewilderment of Ten Hag among others in the red corner.

The hosts had a different kind of let-off when Fernandes made a perfectly timed run beyond the Spurs defence but couldn't seal the deal from Luke Shaw's brilliant delivery into the box, instead nodding the ball comfortably wide. Another header, from Varane, was tipped over by Vicario.

Spurs almost capitalised by twice hitting the woodwork in the space of just a few seconds. First, right-back Pedro Porro smashed a long-range shot against the crossbar and then Pape Sarr's follow-up deflected off Shaw and clipped the right-hand post. The latter player had earlier been thwarted by Onana's best save of the first 45.


Spurs made the brighter start to the second period and were rewarded just four minutes after the restart when Sarr steamed into the six-yard box and half-volleyed beyond Onana for the opening goal. The breakthrough attack was on Tottenham's right wing after the Reds conceded possession, with Kulusevski enjoying enough space and time to cut the ball back from the byline, albeit his cross still needed a kind deflection off Martinez to spin into Sarr's path.

Onana had to be alert and deny Destiny Udogie as Spurs swiftly threatened to double their lead, and there was further alarm for the visitors when Martinez challenged Romero robustly in the box. At the other end, Vicario was well beaten by the trademark Antony shot that cannoned off the left-hand post but the Italian then produced a world-class save to push Casemiro's header over the bar following a Fernandes free-kick.

Aside from those attempts by United's Brazilians, Spurs were very much in the ascendancy, in a reverse of the first-half situation. Son Heung-min, now wearing his club's armband following Harry Kane's move to Bayern Munich, looked certain to score until Shaw superbly blocked his effort. By then Ten Hag had seen enough, making a triple substitution in a bid to regain control with some fresh legs. Diogo Dalot, Jadon Sancho and former Tottenham favourite Christian Eriksen came off the bench to replace Wan-Bissaka, Garnacho and Antony.

Postecoglou responded by taking off Udogie and Richarlison and it was their two replacements, Ivan Perisic and Ben Davies, who combined for the home side's killer second goal. The Croatian winger utilised ample freedom on Spurs' left flank to curl a low shot towards the far corner and his fellow sub helped it on its way with a defender's scuff. TV replays suggested Martinez had the final touch but regardless, Tottenham were two ahead and United were suddenly up against it.

Anthony Martial and Facundo Pellistri represented Ten Hag's final throws of the dice as subs and the young Uruguayan's electric pace on the right wing posed a danger to Spurs' advantage, especially in the nine minutes of injury time. But another appeal for a penalty, when Pellistri went to ground in the area, was also rejected and the Reds' defeat was eventually confirmed by Oliver's final whistle.

Spurs celebrate taking the lead through Pape Sarr in the 49th minute.

Tottenham: Vicario; Porro, Romero, van de Ven, Udogie (Davies, 70); Sarr (Hojbjerg, 76), Bissouma; Son, Maddison, Kulusevski; Richarlison (Perisic, 70).

Substitutes: Forster, Royal, Sanchez, Skipp, Lo Celso, Solomon.

Goals: Sarr 49, Martinez own goal 83. 

Booked: Udogie.

United: Onana; Wan-Bissaka (Dalot, 66), Martinez, Varane, Shaw; Casemiro, Mount (Pellistri, 85); Antony (Eriksen, 66), Fernandes (c), Garnacho (Sancho, 66); Rashford (Martial, 85). 

Substitutes: Henderson, Vitek, Lindelof, McTominay.

Booked: Wan-Bissaka, Antony, Fernandes.

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