Tottenham 2 Man Utd 0: Sarr and shocking Lisandro own goal hand brilliant Spurs deserved win over lacklustre Red Devils
THE last time Pape Matar Sarr started a game for Spurs he was hauled off after 23 minutes of the horrific 6-1 defeat at Newcastle.
He had been so far off the pace on that occasion that his team were already five down when stand-in boss Cristian Stellini decided to put him out of his misery.
So it was no surprise that the 20-year-old Senegalese international was so keen to show the fans what he is truly capable of.
And when he settled this barnstorming match with the first goal of his Tottenham career he was more than entitled to believe that he had achieved that aim.
The standing ovation he received when he was replaced 15 minutes from the end would have been music to the ears of the rookie midfielder who hasn’t exactly set the Premier League alight since his £14.6million arrival from Metz two years ago.
But handed his chance to shine by new boss Ange Postecoglou, he brought an energy to the Tottenham engine room which flagging United simply could not match.
And alongside a revitalised Yves Bissouma in the middle of the park, it’s just possible that Spurs have stumbled upon a combination to steady the ship following Harry Kane’s £104million departure.
Watching their former idol scoring on his Bayern Munich debut on Friday had not exactly lifted the mood of apprehension swirling around the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ahead of this match.
But the way Postecoglou’s men scrapped for every ball suggests that it’s not all going to be doom and gloom this season.
United, though, clearly have major issues to address and Lisandro Martinez’s late own-goal only added to their problems.
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Erik ten Hag will wonder just how his team finished on the losing side after carving out numerous chances to build on Monday’s fortuitous win against Wolves.
But Marcus Rashford and Antony squandered a hatful of chances, Mason Mount was completely anonymous and captain Bruno Fernandes veered from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Now they will be counting down the days until £72million Rasmus Hojlund is finally fit enough to make his United debut after arriving from Atalanta carrying an injury.
Because right now they look pretty toothless up front and in urgent need of some inspiration.
Sarr’s moment to remember arrived in the 49th minute when Dejan Kulusevski’s cut-back deflected off the luckless Martinez and dropped right into his path.
It was too good an opportunity to turn down and the youngster didn’t disappoint as he buried his powerful shot into the roof of the net.
Mind you, plenty of easier openings had gone begging during a breathless blood and guts encounter which could easily have ended 5-5.
Spurs might have been ahead with less than a minute on the clock when Son Heung-min stole in unmarked to connect with Kulusevski’s cross.
But fortunately for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was completely oblivious to Son’s presence, the new Spurs captain shanked his attempted volley which almost went out for a throw-in.
Right from the off it was clear that neither team was going to be sitting back and hoping for the best.
Antony fired a decent opening over after two minutes and Rashford was only denied by a smart reaction save from Guglielmo Vicario.
Alejandro Garnacho was thwarted by a last-ditch block from Cristian Romero and a second crucial intervention from Micky van de Ven was required to keep out Rashford.
Another glorious opportunity came and went when Fernandes’ outrageous rabona presented Rashford with a free header which he sent over the bar.
But an even worse miss followed in the 36th minute when Fernandes was granted the freedom of the Spurs penalty area to convert Luke Shaw’s pinpoint cross yet somehow missed the target by a yard.
Even the Manchester United captain couldn’t believe that one as he stood with his head in his hands wishing for the ground to swallow him up.
Yet it wasn’t all one-way traffic and Spurs also had plenty of chances to break the deadlock in a breathless first half.
Kulusevski and Sarr both tested Andre Onana’s reactions with fiercely struck shots before Pedro Porro’s 40th minute piledriver rattled the bar and Sarr’s pull-back from the rebound was deflected against his own post by Shaw.
Throw in Garnacho’s appeal for a penalty which struck Romero on the arm but was rejected by VAR Craig Pawson and it was remarkable how we reached the interval with the game still goalless.
And though Antony struck an upright and Casemiro was denied by a brilliant flying save from the impressive Vicario, Ten Hag will still be concerned at the way his team ran out of steam in the second-half.
Their fate was finally sealed in the 84th minute when Ben Davies took a fresh air shot at Ivan Perisic’s low cross into the box and the ball struck Martinez before rolling agonisingly over the line.
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