Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United: Rooney double spoils two Spurs leads

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Tottenham shook their goal-scoring struggles to twice take the lead, but they could not shake the visitors as a double by Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a share of the spoils at White Hart Lane by a 2-2 scoreline.

Both sides began early working their right offensive flanks. Shinji Kagawa for United and Lennon for Spurs saw the most work in their respective midfields in the first 10 minutes.

The game’s first shot didn’t come until the 11th minute, when Lennon popped off a low effort comfortably saved by De Gea.

The opener for Spurs didn’t come from open play, but they’ll certainly take it.  After a late challenge by Jonny Evans on Paulinho on the edge of the penalty area, Kyle Walker bagged the goal in the 18th minute as he cannoned a low free-kick below the United wall and past De Gea.

Just before, Everton goalkeeper and guest NBC commentator Tim Howard had urged De Gea to trust his wall and cover the far end of the goal, but his wall got it wrong as they all jumped above the low blast by Walker and it tucked in for a home lead.

It’s the first Premier League goal of the season for the defender, and his first for Spurs since April 2012 against Blackburn. It also ended a goal drought for Spurs of 298 minutes.

Spurs began to press harder after scoring, pinning the United attack further back and developing more chances. They had one on the break for Roberto Soldado in the 30th minute, but the struggling Spurs striker wasted the chance by firing well over.

In was a shocking turn of events, a counter-attack stunned Spurs and drew United level. Phil Jones worked down the right and put in a beautiful cross from the right side just over Rooney’s head. The ball took a bit of a fortunate bounce off Walker’s foot and fell right to Rooney, who took and finished.

source: Getty Images
Wayne Rooney finished off both goals for United, his 7th and 8th scores of the Premier League season.

Nothing changed at the halftime break for United, as they continued to press the right flank with Valencia and asking questions of out-of-position defender Jan Vertonghen.

The two sides played a bit of cat-and-mouse in the start of the second half, but Spurs got a piece of brilliant work from Sandro to give them the lead.  The Brazilian, being a bit outshone in the match by his midfield partner and countryman Paulinho, would not be outdone with a wonder goal in the 55th minute.

Sandro cut through some space in the Manchester United midfield, and with the defense tracking back, he worked towards the box, surprisingly cut back, and teed himself up for a brilliant drive into the top corner for a 2-1 lead.

But it would not be for Spurs once again, as referee Mike Dean straight away down the other end gave a penalty as sweeper-keeper Hugo Lloris took down Danny Welbeck on the left edge of the box.  It was a soft foul, but Lloris missed the ball and definitely caught Welbeck’s back foot with his hands.

Rooney drilled the penalty straight down the middle past a disheartened Lloris for his second equalizer of the match.

Surprisingly, Andre Villas-Boas decided to remove the incisive Aaron Lennon around 65 minutes for Andros Townsend, while leaving the relatively invisible Nacer Chadli in on the other wing.

Spurs came inches from another lead as Kyle Walker continued to work the right wing, launching in a slicing cross in the 78th minute just barely out of reach of Andros Townsend, who was all alone in front of the United goal.

Both sides were asking questions of the opposition defense as the clock ticked into extra time, but there was no winner on the cards.

It’s a quality result for both sides, all things considered.  United stay unbeated in seven games, and Tottenham kick some of their goalscoring woes to get back on track in front of goal.

United and Spurs remain in eighth and ninth respectively in the Premier League table with their points.

GOALS:

Tottenham Hotspur – Walker 18′; Sandro 54′
Manchester United – Rooney 32′, 57′ (pen)

LINEUPS:

Tottenham Hotspur – Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Chiriches, Dawson; Paulinho, Sandro; Lennon (Townsend, 65′), Dembele, Chadli (Sigurdsson, 85′); Soldado (Defoe, 72′).

Manchester United – De Gea; Evra, Vidic, Smalling, Evans; Jones, Cleverley; Welbeck (Hernandez, 73′), Kagawa (Young, 84′), Valencia (Nani, 84′); Rooney.

Neymar makes history in PSG’s 8-0 thrashing of Dijon

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A pair of statements which are both true, and not at all mutually exclusive, if you allow logic and balance to prevail: 1) Neymar and his friends at Paris Saint-Germain are quite good at the soccer; 2) they aren’t challenged enough in Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Of course, they’ll be challenged plenty during the latter stages of the Champions League (they drew Real Madrid in the round of 16), but on a weekly basis, the level of competition in their domestic league isn’t of a high standard to indicate just how good they are. That’s the new debate with regard to PSG — it’s no longer, “Are they good? Maybe they’re just a big fish in a small pond.”

On Wednesday, led by Neymar, the most expensive transfer signing of all-time, Unai Emery’s side thrashed 10th-place Dijon to the tune of 8-0. As mentioned, Neymar did slightly more than just pull his own weight — four goals to go with a pair of assists; he lent a direct hand in six of the eight goals.

[ MORE: Chelsea survive Norwich in PKs, reach FA Cup 4th round ]

Even the statistical whizzes at Opta appear somewhat stumped by such an abundance of goals.

Anytime the keepers of stats toss out a “since we started collecting data,” be proud of your achievement. Be very, very proud.

FA Cup: Chelsea, Swansea into 4th rd; B’mouth ousted by Wigan

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Two more Premier League sides booked their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, courtesy of third-round replays, on Wednesday, bringing the PL’s total representation to 14 clubs…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup ]

Chelsea 1-1 (5-3 PKs) Norwich City

Chelsea’s scoreless streak — for both themselves and opponents (three straight 0-0 draws across all competitions) — came to a merciful end on Wednesday, but not before surpassing the 300-minute mark. Michy Batshuayi — who, it must be said, struggled mightily in making just his third start (all in cup competitions) since mid-October — broke yet another scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute, ending the Blues’ scoreless run at 331 minutes.

With barely 30 seconds remaining in second-half stoppage time, 19-year-old left back Jamal Lewis brought the Canaries level with a thunderous header off the post.

Extra-time saw Chelsea reduced to 10, and then nine, men. Pedro was booked for diving just after the hour mark, and the Spaniard earned a second yellow card for a wild challenge in the 117th minute. Four minutes later, in second-half extra-time stoppage time, Alvaro Morata was booked for diving and proceeded to shout and gesticulate in the referee’s face. A second yellow was shown immediately.

Willy Caballero denied Nelson Oliveira on Norwich’s first attempt of the ensuing penalty shootout, giving the Blues the only cushion they’d need as Willian, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard all converted.

Chelsea will host Newcastle United in the fourth round on Sunday, Jan. 28.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Swansea City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Swansea faced the greatest threat of a Cupset on Wednesday but managed to come out on top, knocking off runaway Championship leaders and champions-elect Wolves. The Swans went ahead through Jordan Ayew in the 11th minute before the prolific Diogo Jota, who’ll be in the PL one way or another next season, brought Wolves back to 1-1 in the 66th. Three minutes later, Wilfried Bony bagged the winner to see Carlos Carvalhal’s side through to the next round.

Swansea will visit League Two side Notts County, who knocked off Championship playoff hopefuls Brentford in the third round, on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bournemouth

Bournemouth sat 32 places above Wigan in the English football pyramid when Wednesday’s replay kicked off, and it matter not a single iota, as Paul Cook’s side hammered the Cherries at the DW Stadium. Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder bagged the goals for the League One leaders (three points clear after 26 of 46 rounds played). Wigan have alternated each of the last four seasons, finishing 23rd in the Championship and leading/winning League One. It’s been five years since the Latics were relegated from the PL, in the 2012-13 season.

Wigan will host West Ham United in the fourth round on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Sir Alex’s son in trouble for saying he’d “shoot” refs

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LONDON (AP) It clearly runs in the family.

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was known for having an explosive temper during his nearly 27 years at Old Trafford, and it seems he has passed it down to his son.

Darren Ferguson, who is the manager of third-tier English team Doncaster, is in trouble for saying he would “shoot” referees because of what he perceived as their poor standards.

Ferguson was charged by the English Football Association on Wednesday for remarks that “were improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.”

The 45-year-old coach has already apologized, saying it was a “tongue-in-cheek comment” and that “I do not advocate violence against officials.”

Ferguson was unhappy his team was denied a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Plymouth on Saturday.

“The referees are part-time and the standard is appalling, their fitness levels are a disgrace, I’ve had enough of it,” Ferguson said after the match.

“What can I do? Shoot them, it would be a good idea.”

Follow Live: Chelsea, Swans, Cherries in FA Cup replays

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Chelsea, Swansea City, and Bournemouth look to avoid upsets in replays of their third round FA Cup matches.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

All three matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET

The Blues tangle with former Premier League peers Norwich City, this time at Stamford Bridge, in a bid to host a fourth round match with Newcastle United.

Antonio Conte‘s not messing around (too much) with the XI.

Swansea City and Wolves, meanwhile, are arguably battling for a bid in the fourth round, as a trip to Notts County is on the docket for the winner of Wednesday’s replay at the Liberty Stadium.

Bournemouth is at Wigan Athletic for a replay with the third-tier Latics, with the victor hosting West Ham United on Jan. 27.