Premier League 2018-19: Rashford shines as Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur
The second half of the English Premier League has begun. Now is the time for the clash of the big teams again. This time it was the third-placed Spurs against sixth-placed Manchester United.
A win for the London side meant they could go up front in the table and can wait for the result of Manchester City's match against Wolves. With a slow start to the season, Manchester United are catching up to the big guns of the Premier League after the termination of their Coach Jose Mourinho. A win means they will be in the race with sixteen games remaining in the League.
It was a big game. Either side had the potential to win the match. With a new caretaker manager at the helm, Ole Gunnar has proved over and over again why he could be the right man for the job. This was the sixth successive victory for the Norwegian in six games and in Premier League football, that is a certain feat.
Both the teams started the match by launching long balls into the front, and United had the conservative possession of the ball, though they were not able to pop a goal. Overlapping runs from the Tottenham full-backs had opened the way for United's attacks as they had a pacey attacking trio of Martial, Rashford, and Lingard overwhelming the center-backs.
Paul Pogba was the man to watch, he was proving to be the best man in the United's squad by being the focal point of United's attack. It was the spectacular assist from him that paved the way for United's goal which went on to be the decider of the game. Trippier's loose ball in United's half was intercepted by Jesse Lingard and that single mistake cost Spurs the game.
The ball was flung perfectly into Rashford's way by Pogba and Rashford cooly converted as the ball crashed into the bottom left corner. It was all about the pace, movement, and finishing, all about what United's football should be about.
Tottenham almost leveled the score when Harry Kane sent the ball to the back of the net from close range before the goal being dismissed for offside. This game showed the coaching brilliance of Solskjaer as he used Rashford to the right and almost used Lingard as a false-nine. That meant Rashford and Martial could capitalize on gaps left by Tottenham's full-backs.
Even though United dominated the first half, Spurs came striking back in the second half. They pushed United to their defense with relentless attacks in the last forty-five minutes of the game, but could not send the ball past Team of The Year goalkeeper David De Gea.
The Spaniard was on top of his game and denied Spurs time and again with a series of stunning second-half saves, mainly with his legs. The shot-stopper made 11 saves in total.
Spurs dealt a heavy blow when Moussa Sissoko was substituted with an apparent hamstring injury. He came onto the pitch after some initial medical help in the sidelines, but could not continue as Erik Lamela replaced him.
Still, Spurs had some chances and should have gone ahead when Heung-Min Son, running in behind the United defense, slipped the ball through to Harry Winks who dragged a low shot across goal.
There had been a shift in the formation by Pochettino who pushed Son out wide left to provide more width and they again began to show the greater threat and really should have equalized when Alli ran through the right and on to Kane’s excellently weighted pass but shot straight at De Gea. Alli held his head, knowing he had failed to convert the golden opportunity.
The Spaniard goalkeeper saved United again and again. It was wave after wave of Spurs attack. He reacted perfectly to kick out a near post shot by Toby Alderweireld after the defender met a clever Christian Eriksen corner at the near post.
Alli had another opportunity, cutting back inside as he faced Victor Lindelof but once more De Gea denied him. United were pinned back with the Spurs attacks and Pogba was remarkably fortunate to escape with just a booking for a dangerous challenge that caught Alli on his thigh. Remarkably De Gea denied them again after Kane was found by substitute Fernando Llorente. Once more De Gea got his feet in the way. Spurs just could not beat him.
The match was open and entertaining and felt more like a match-up of heavyweights with each intent on landing their blows. United, thankfully, came to attack and so did Spurs with chances traded before, just before half-time, the visitors landed the blow which was enough to see off the game.
It was the kind of result, which might indicate Solskjaer to remain in charge. His counterpart though, who had a rather frustrating afternoon, saw Spurs's flickering title hopes disappear as Marcus Rashford scored the only goal in an exciting contest.