Tottenham 0, Manchester United 3
Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, and Marcus Rashford scored as a re-shaped Manchester United went to London and beat Tottenham.
After a lax performance at Old Trafford which cost them heavily against Liverpool last week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased that a week of work on the training pitch with a tactical switch paid off at Spurs, saying:
“We built this performance on hard work, discipline, and keeping the ball away from our goal.
“Maybe we gave them a bit too much of the ball early on.”
Solskjaer admitted the reason why he made the switch to a back three, with two strikers with a combined age of 70 years at Spurs, explaining:
“Solidity. We’ve for experience together up front, and a man of the match award for Scott McTominay.
“The old men led from the front, they played well together and have loads of respect for each other.
“They will play for the club no matter what. We need that kind of consistency and performance again and again.”Embed from Getty Images
Solskjaer made a significant change to his United side which easily beat a Spurs side which was low on confidence after three defeats in four games in all competitions.
He switched to a back three for the Reds, who had only had one clean sheet in 21 games prior to the visit to White Hart Lane.
It was a drastic re-engineering of the leaky defence and their hosts didn’t even get off a shot on target throughout the whole game – Harry Kane remained out of sorts with just one Premier League goal this term – and no other goals since September.
But by adding fit-again Raphael Varane in between Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof to shore up the leaky Reds’ defence Solskjaer had to sacrifice both Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.
In their place was the hard-working Edinson Cavani who partnered Cristiano Ronaldo in attack with Bruno Fernandes used as a pure number 10 behind them while the midfield still included Scott McTominay and Fred with wing-backs Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The result was a hugely experienced front line – with 70 years between them – which set about dismantling their hosts as United reacted well to last week’s historic reverse against Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Cristian Romero’s opener for Spurs was ruled out for offside from the corner as Spurs tried to take an early lead.
Fred’s swerving shot drew a save from Hugo Lloris before Cristiano Ronaldo put the Reds into the lead with a trademark volleyed finish after 39 minutes to end his Premier League goal drought following a great ball over the top from Fernandes
Ronaldo had another goal chalked off after a VAR review confirmed he was offside after the break.
The home fans, who had already been booing at the interval, really made their feelings known to their unloved manager Nuno Espirito Santo after Lucas Moura was replaced by Steven Bergwijn after 54 minutes.
Edinson Cavani got himself on the scoresheet soon after 64 minutes with a counter attack sparked by Fernandes who got the ball to Ronaldo for a sweet through ball.
At 2-0 up United’s front players were soon replaced by Rashford, Nemanja Matic, and Jesse Lingard – even Ronaldo was taken off as a sign that, with his job on the line, Solskjaer was more of his own man.
The game was up for Spurs when Matic released Rashford who easily sprung the offside trap and made it 3-0 with 4 minutes to spare as United went some way to alleviating the trauma of last week.