Young double gives Man United 3-1 win at Tottenham

Ashley Young scored twice as Manchester United withstood a

gritty Tottenham side to win 3-1 on Sunday, effectively knocking

the hosts out of the Premier League title race while keeping the

heat on leader Manchester City.

Despite Tottenham controlling the first half, Wayne Rooney put

United in front with his 23rd goal of the season against the run of

play in the final minute.

And Young’s double after the break ensured the defending

champions surged 11 points clear of third-place Tottenham and sit

two points behind City.

”In the first half we were not at our best,” Young said. ”All

the players knew we weren’t playing to full potential, our passing

game wasn’t on form. We were lucky to go in 1-0 up and we kicked on

from there.”

As United soaked up sustained pressure in the first half,

Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor was aggrieved after having a

goal ruled out after the ball struck him on the arm while standing

virtually on the line.

”It was a great performance by Tottenham and maybe we got our

tactics wrong in the first half,” United manager Alex Ferguson

said. ”In the second half we improved, we told them at halftime to

get pushed up on their back four and not let them build up their

play. After the second goal, we played very well.”

Ferguson, however, conceded that the result was ”unfair on

Tottenham – no question about that.”

Jermain Defoe’s 87th-minute goal was scant consolation for

Spurs, who lost at White Hart Lane for the first time since Man

City won 5-1 in August.

”(United) rode their luck; they did very little,” Tottenham

manager Harry Redknapp said. ”We dominated them and were better

than them for most of the game … I go home at night and I am

suicidal when we get beat, but I couldn’t go home tonight and be

disappointed.”

Amid continued uncertainty about the future of Redknapp, who is

the leading contender to become England coach, Tottenham’s lead

over fourth-place Arsenal has been cut from 10 to four points –

including a 5-2 collapse against its neighbor last weekend.

While Rooney and Young both returned from injury for United,

Tottenham had to cope without Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and

Scott Parker.

In the first half, Jake Livermore and Sandro ensured Tottenham

controlled the midfield and subdued the influence of Paul Scholes

and Michael Carrick for United.

”Really there was only one team who should have been in front

at halftime, and we came in 1-0 down,” Redknapp said.

Tottenham had been denied the opening goal when Louis Saha’s

shot straight at Adebayor, who used his arm to control the ball

before backheeling it into the net.

With Tottenham fans still annoyed with referee Martin Atkinson,

Rooney grabbed United’s opener just before the break after sneaking

in front of Tottenham defender Kyle Walker to head in Young’s

corner.

Although Livermore tested United goalkeeper David de Gea early

in the second half, Younes Kaboul headed wide and Benoit

Assou-Ekotto struck a free kick just over the crossbar, the

visitors still managed to extend their lead.

Spurs switched off when Phil Jones took a throw-in and Nani took

full advantage of Luka Modric’s mishap, taking the ball into the

penalty before finding Young with a deflected cross that he

volleyed into the net.

United was gradually becoming more assertive and Young found the

target again when he curled a 25-yard (meter) shot beyond Friedel

in the 69th minute.

”We showed a determination to get the result, we dug in and

defended well,” Ferguson said.

Tottenham hasn’t beaten United for 11 years and is now unlikely

to win its first English league title since 1961

Rob Harris can be reached at www.twitter.com/RobHarrisUK