Ten-man Manchester United earned a deserved 3-1 win at White Hart Lane that ended Tottenham‘s 100% start to the Premier League season.
Jermain Defoe’s acrobatic strike opened the scoring but United have a history of comebacks against Spurs – 5-2 last season and 5-3 eight years ago – and they levelled through Ryan Giggs’ free-kick.
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Anderson drilled home before the break and despite playing the last half an hour without Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney sealed victory with a cool finish before the end.
It was meant to be the game when Spurs proved their top-four credentials after four straight wins but instead it was United who showed their steel, if anyone thought they would not challenge for titles without Cristiano Ronaldo.
This clash had everything – spectacular goals, off-the-ball incidents, a red card, flying tackles and an intensity only known to the Premier League. By half-time the number of openings or shots had reached double figures.
The thrilling opening half sprang to life after Defoe’s opener. The 26-year-old spent the summer in the gym bulking up his physique and the result has been an explosive start to the campaign – his spectacular goal after 50 seconds was his eighth in as many games for club and country.
The chance was created following a loose pass by Dimitar Berbatov, who was jeered with his every touch on his return to Spurs, to Darren Fletcher, allowing Wilson Palacios to slide in. Robbie Keane shifted the ball to Benoit Assou-Ekotto and his cross to the far post saw Peter Crouch challenge Nemanja Vidic.
Vidic appeared to get the last touch as the ball went into the danger zone, leaving Defoe to execute his bicycle-kick into the bottom corner.
This inevitably kick-started United. Scholes drove wide and Fletcher drove into the penalty area and forced Carlo Cudicini to parry at the near post. The Italian also saved from Berbatov’s flick header.
Crouch’s height caused United problems, especially when he collected a long ball, flicked over Vidic and volleyed powerfully, with Ben Foster’s footwork making the save look easy. Crouch had replaced injured Luka Modric and added a different dimension to the Spurs attack, resulting in Keane drifting wide.
Tackles were flying around and there was an unsavoury incident between Patrice Evra and Vedran Corluka, with the United full-back appearing to make contact with a headbutt aimed at his Spurs counterpart.
United’s equaliser came from the familiar source of Giggs.
Palacios had received a yellow card for the tackle on Berbatov that led to the free-kick, 25 yards from goal. Giggs’ set-play curled over Keane in the wall and into the top corner.
Berbatov had two chances shortly after, the first when he killed Anderson’s pass and had his volley tipped over the crossbar. Then he had a rebound cleared off the line after Rooney’s effort was saved, and another that went over when the ball was worked back to the Bulgaria striker.
The action never stopped – Aaron Lennon thought he was caught off the ball, while Crouch headed over from a Tom Huddlestone corner.
Anderson’s goal came four minutes before the break. The Brazil midfielder drilled into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after Scholes’ long-range effort was blocked by Ledley King.
Although he had scored in penalty shoot-outs since arriving from Porto two years ago, it was Anderson’s first senior goal in open play for United.
Spurs brought on Jermaine Jenas for Palacios at the interval, and there was the same pace and intensity when play got under way again.
Scholes was booked for tripping Defoe, then King was cautioned for exacting revenge a minute later.
Jenas, returning from a calf injury for his first appearance of the season, curled an effort that Foster tipped around the post, with Crouch hitting the crossbar from the corner.
Scholes received his marching orders just before the hour mark for his second caution, this time for a clumsy tackle on Huddlestone.
United’s response was to bring on Michael Carrick for Berbatov to add numbers in midfield.
Carrick’s quick pass to Rooney set the England striker off down the left and he cut inside to force Cudicini into a save that came off the woodwork.
Rooney’s goal came 12 minutes from full-time. He raced onto Fletcher’s pass and cut inside Alan Hutton before squeezing his finish through Cudicini’s legs.