TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 vs MANCHESTER UNITED 1
TOTTENHAM manager Andre Villas-Boas insisted Manchester United were lucky to escape with as much as a point after his side struck in the third minute of injury time to snatch a valuable draw.
Ex-Arsenal captain Robin van Persie tormented his former rivals with a header to open the scoring on 25 minutes, and United looked set to hold on for the win despite a second-half Spurs bombardment.
But Clint Dempsey turned in Aaron Lennon’s pass in stoppage time to tighten the home side’s grip on a Champions League place and prevent the visitors re-establishing a seven-point Premier League lead.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to blame the officials for refusing to give penalty for a challenge by Steven Caulkler on Wayne Rooney, but Villas-Boas hit back by declaring them barely worth a point.
“We dominated the whole game, played well and deserved to win,” said the Spurs boss, whose team are now four points ahead of fifth-placed Everton. “We had 60 per cent possession, 15 shots against four and should have won. We set our targets high, we wanted to win.”
Ferguson pointed the finger at assistant referee Simon Beck, whom he accused of being a serial offender against his team.
“It was a clear penalty. He [Caulker] has put his leg right in there. The linesman is facing it, I thought he had a very poor game, the linesman, he was disappointing,” he said.
Heavy snowfall meant the match was only given the green light 70 minutes before kick-off, and United soon took the upper hand, Van Persie meeting Tom Cleverley’s right-wing cross with a firm back-post header.
United goalkeeper David de Gea repeatedly denied Spurs, first stopping winger Gareth Bale’s deflected drive with his knees, then denying midfielder Dempsey at point-blank range by flinging out a leg.
But the Spanish stopper erred when it mattered most. His flap at Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cross from the left allowed Lennon to gather and square across goal, where Dempsey found the net through a crowd.