Young shines in United win over Spurs
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|Saturday, March 3|
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Tottenham dominated the game but were lacking in creativity and, when given the opportunities, United were simply devastating.
Spurs thought they had taken the lead when Louis Saha's shot flew in off Emmanuel Adebayor but referee Martin Atkinson ruled it out for a handball.
Spurs would have been good value for a lead at that stage, but were hit by a sucker punch on the stroke of half-time when Wayne Rooney rose to nod home an Ashley Young corner.
And Young went on to add two in the second half - the first an acrobatic scissor kick, and the second a superb curling effort from 20 yards.
Jermain Defoe pulled one back for the hosts with three minutes left but the game was gone by that point.
The defeat - Tottenham's first at home since Manchester City thumped them 5-1 in August - effectively ends any marginal hopes the Londoners may have had of clinching their first title since 1961 and they are now only four points ahead of Arsenal.
United, meanwhile, sit two points behind leaders and bitter local rivals Manchester City and the season looks set to be decided by the showdown between the two next month.
The absence of the suspended Scott Parker, injury victim Rafael van der Vaart and the ill Gareth Bale hit Spurs, although Sandro and youngster Jake Livermore did their best to deal with the imposing United midfield.
Spurs soon took a grip on proceedings in the early stages.
Aaron Lennon, recalled to the starting line-up after missing the past six games, rushed forward after cutting in from the flank before Jonny Evans put in a crucial block.
David De Gea nervously palmed away a shot from Adebayor, who burst forward after picking up Sandro's pass.
The crowd sensed a goal and Lennon continued to cause havoc down the right, whipping over a ball that ricocheted about the box. Tottenham suspected the ball had hit a United hand but Atkinson shook his head.
Younes Kaboul then fired a bullet of a free-kick that went just wide before Rooney ventured forward only at the other end only to be cut out by Ledley King.
Spurs poured forward looking for an opener and they thought they had it in the bag in the 38th minute.
Lennon snuck in to the box and Saha turned his cross straight at Adebayor, who backheeled the ball into the net.
However, he controlled the ball with his arm and referee Atkinson disallowed the goal.
The home contingent in the sell-out crowd vented their fury at Atkinson and their despair deepened on the stroke of half-time as United took the lead.
Sandro saw yellow for a late tackle on Young and the resulting free-kick saw Spurs concede a corner that led to United going ahead.
Young swung the ball in and Rooney found space in front of Kyle Walker to head home with Brad Friedel well beaten.
Spurs came out for the second half fired up. Livermore stung De Gea's palms with a fierce drive before Kaboul headed narrowly wide.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto skimmed the top of the bar with a wicked curling free-kick as Tottenham pressed for the equaliser their play deserved.
The home crowd were stunned in to silence on the hour, however, as United added a second.
The Spurs defence switched off at a throw-in, allowing Nani to skip in to the box and fire a cross that ricocheted in to the path of Young, who adjusted his body to fire in a fine scissor kick.
Ferguson immediately brought on Ryan Giggs for Scholes and the travelling supporters mocked the home side by chanting "Harry for England".
United were starting to play some sublime football and their third came in the 68th minute in spectacular style.
Tottenham's defence backed off Young and he made them pay by unleashing a brilliant strike that flew in over an outstretched Friedel.
More taunts came from the away fans as United threatened to go on the rampage.
Harry Redknapp brought on Niko Kranjcar, Danny Rose and Defoe to freshen things up and the move paid off to some extent when Defoe pulled back a consolation.
The former West Ham man picked up a wayward ball and advanced towards the United back line before belting home from 25 yards.
Spurs continued to push forward but two more goals in the three added minutes was too tall an order and United walked away with all three points.