Manchester United vs Tottenham: A hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo dragged the Red Devils to three priceless points in the Premier League top-four race at Old Trafford on Saturday.
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The victory sends Manchester United (50 points) above Arsenal (48 points) for 4th in the Premier League table, though the Gunners now have four games in hand. For Tottenham (45 points), it’s a massive blow, as they would have climbed two spots (into 5th) with a win. Instead, they remain 7th, five points out of 4th, with two games in hand of their own.
Manchester United vs Tottenham final score, stats, results
Final score: Manchester United 3, Tottenham 2
Goal scorers: Manchester United (Ronaldo 12′, 38′, 81′), Tottenham (Kane 35′ – PK, Maguire 72′ – OG)
Shots: Manchester United 10, Tottenham 10
Shots on target: Manchester United 6, Tottenham 3
Possession: Manchester United 43%, Tottenham 57%
3 things we learned – Manchester United vs Tottenham
1. Spurs dominate when game gets stretched: Perhaps only Liverpool are more dangerous than Tottenham on the counter-attack these days, thus opponents are beginning to defend differently against them. Manchester United — just as Burnley, Wolves and Southampton did in recent victories over Spurs — set up deep, allowed Tottenham to have plenty of possession, betting on their inability to connect passes in tight spaces around the penalty area. It proved hugely effective for the opening 25 minutes, until Spurs turned the midfield pressure up and began to win the ball back higher up the field. Suddenly, Kane and Son Heung-min were finding one another in acres of space and David de Gea was under immense pressure. Tottenham’s penalty came at the end of their strongest period of play, but Ronaldo’s ensuing second goal landed like a gut punch, sucking all of the air from the lungs and beginning their chase all over again.
2. Man United keep it cagey and hold on: When Ralf Rangnick arrived in November, it was widely predicted that Manchester United would quickly become a high-pressing, high-energy side that plays the game at a high tempo. Man United’s squad, though, is terribly fitted to such tactics, instead proving hugely formidable as a more conservative, reactive side. Credit must go to Rangnick for assessing the tools at his disposal and constructing a plan of attack that suits them best. It’s rarely entertaining or enthralling, but it is perhaps the most sensible bit of work done at Old Trafford since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
3. Ronaldo the difference between 1 and 3 points: The Portuguese took eight of Manchester United’s 10 shots in the game, including five of their six shots on target, and served as the tip of the attacking spear. Jadon Sancho was industrious in the space just behind Ronaldo, but the absence of Bruno Fernandes (COVID-19) left Man United with few ideas. The one marked “Get the ball to Ronaldo” proved effective.
Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo – A hat trick, in a head-to-head matchup against a fellow top-four contender.
Manchester United vs Tottenham highlights
Cristiano Ronaldo fires Manchester United ahead early (goal video)
Harry Kane converts penalty kick after Dejan Kulusevski wins it (goal video)
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