Cooke's spot success for United

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The Independent Online

Manchester United 1

Tottenham Hotspur 0

(aet; 2-2 on aggregate; Man Utd win 4-3 on penalties)

Having failed in the art of brinkmanship in the championship on Sunday, Manchester United succeeded in flirting with danger and surviving last night. As a result, the FA Youth Cup is at Old Trafford for a record eighth time.

United did not score until the 89th minute to take the match into extra- time, and even then they required penalties to see off a powerful but limited Tottenham team. Terry Cooke was the pivotal figure around which this match revolved. He scored United's goal and then converted the final penalty shooting low to Simon Brown's right.

Cooke's goal, his ninth in the competition, was fitting for a player regarded as one of the brightest in a not exactly dim Old Trafford firmament. Receiving the ball from John Curtis on the edge of the area, he spun away from two defenders before beating Brown from 12 yards.

The victory was very much deserved, even if Tottenham had every reason to rue their misfortune in being so close to the trophy. They barely created a chance of note, while United wasted numerous opportunities.

Every club values the Youth Cup, but it holds a special place in Old Trafford affection, not least for heralding the arrival of the Busby Babes in the early 1950s. It was indicative of the interest in Manchester that the kick-off had to be delayed by 20 minutes because of the congestion outside the ground.

United, trailing 2-1 from the first leg, attacked from the start, almost scoring twice in the opening seven minutes. First Philip Neville cut in from the left and curled a shot that Brown did well to tip over, then Tottenham's Ross Darcy almost sliced into his own net from Philip Mulryne's cross. That set the trend. United attacked, while Tottenham, stronger but less skilful, attacked on the break. Until Cooke struck, it appeared fortune would favour the less brave.

Second in the championship, to finish runners-up in the Youth Cup would have set a worrying sequence. United can go to Wembley for the FA Cup final on Saturday knowing they have won at least one trophy this season.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Gibson; Curtis, Westwood, Wallwork, P Neville; Hall (Gardner, 68), Mustoe, Brebner, Mulryne (Hilton, 72); Cooke, Baker. Substitute not used: Maxon (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Brown; Carr, Maher, Darcy, Arber; Wormull (Clemence, 60), Brady, Spencer, Gain; Allen (Winston, 75), Fenn. Substitute not used: Shave (gk).

Referee: P Vanes (Warley).