The Big Match

Football: Route one football sinks Spurs

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial escaping the attention of Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen to score his 81st-minute winner. This was United's 10th goal in the last 10 minutes of league games this season.
Manchester United forward Anthony Martial (right) escaping the attention of Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen to score his 81st-minute winner. This was United's 10th goal in the last 10 minutes of league games this season.PHOTO: REUTERS

Ball over the top & flick-on leads to substitute Martial's late winner in a game of few chances

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester United 1

Tottenham 0

LONDON • No Harry Kane for Tottenham, and ultimately not the firepower. In contrast, Manchester United struck late thanks to the artillery on their bench.

On came Anthony Martial to settle a poised, attritional encounter with a moment of dead-eyed striking. The 81st-minute winner was "route one", but still rather picturesque - and significant, with United reasserting themselves over Spurs as Manchester City's likeliest title challengers.

For Jose Mourinho, after losing to Huddersfield, and playing safe against Liverpool in his last big-six game, it was also a big statement.

His substitutions were key to his success. Marcus Rashford had seemed United's most threatening player, but still he was replaced by Martial in the 70th minute.

With the Frenchman playing off Romelu Lukaku more closely, the change brought him to life, and the scene was set for the coup de grace.

It arrived in a way Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has now lost four out of four at Old Trafford, will find agonising. David de Gea kicked it long and Lukaku timed his jump to flick a headed pass on with weight and pace. Martial ran through to face Hugo Lloris and dinked in a finish.

Both sides had protected themselves with what were effectively back-fives. Each had three centre-halves and wing-backs who were cautious about going forward.

  • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

  • YESTERDAY

    Man United 1 Tottenham 0

    Liverpool 3 Huddersfield 0

    Arsenal 2 Swansea 1

    West Brom 2 Man City 3

    Crystal Palace 2 West Ham 2

    Watford 0 Stoke 1

    Bournemouth v Chelsea
    Late kick-off

Chances were rare, with Spurs not asking a question of de Gea until a hooked volley from Eric Dier, from inside a crowded area, three minutes before the break.

United made an aggressive start to the second half and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lukaku both forced Lloris into saves.

Spurs though could have gone in front themselves in the 76th minute when Christian Eriksen threaded a superb ball towards Dele Alli but the England midfielder's left-footed effort from an awkward angle went the wrong side of the post.

United manager Jose Mourinho said: "Apart from Dele Alli's chance, we controlled them well. It was tactically difficult for both.

"We knew if we had one defensive mistake, we could lose and that's what happened to them."

United have now scored 10 goals in the last 10 minutes of league games this season - 43 per cent of their total.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said: "It was an even game. It was a shame to lose.

"I feel proud of the effort and it was unlucky that in the last 10 minutes, we conceded our goal. It was our mistake.

"It is important to be calm and in football, these types of mistakes happen. We must fix that and move on."

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'Route one football sinks Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe