A victory which both Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp said was "unbelievable" sent Manchester United to within two points of Manchester City last night. United beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at White Hart Lane despite their being inferior in possession and chances for most of the first hour.
"It's an entirely unbelievable result," Ferguson told MUTV. "I would say that's our hardest away game of the season. It's unfair on Tottenham, no question about that, they played very well."
Wayne Rooney's header, at the end of a first half in which Ferguson said United were "never at the races", gave them an unlikely lead. "We had a bit of luck," Ferguson conceded. "Scoring right on half-time is terrific, probably our first strike on goal. [They were] probably sitting in that dressing room wondering how it's 1-0."
It was the type of victory always associated with title-winning, and so Ferguson was thrilled with his players' character. "We showed a determination to get a result," he said. "We dug in, defended fantastically well, the goalkeeper [David de Gea] made a fantastic save in the second half from the deflection [off Louis Saha]."
The result keeps the gap with City at two points, with the champions facing a seemingly easier run-in before the two meet at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April. Ferguson is clearly relishing another close contest. "We've got experience," he said. "We won't get nervous, and the battling performance we did today against a very very good team tells you that we're up for it."
Redknapp was devastated that a good first-half display ended with United in front. "It was unbelievable," Redknapp said of Spurs' going into the break behind, "absolutely unbelievable."
The Tottenham manager was understandably delighted with his players' performance, particularly the central-midfield pair of Sandro and Jake Livermore. "They did everything we asked them to do," Redknapp said. "All over the park I thought we dominated the game."
Redknapp was underwhelmed by a United performance which owed more to ruthless finishing and a well-organised defence than to any midfield dominance. "They've done nothing," he said. "I really thought they were there to be beat. I've not seen Alex on his feet so much for years. The two goals that put them 2-0 up were two gifts. That's how it goes in football, sometimes you don't get what you deserve."
Tottenham's lead over Arsenal has shrunk from 10 points to four, but Redknapp was still confident of finishing as north London's best team. "I'd still rather be where we are than Arsenal," he said. "I'm looking to finish third rather than fourth. We've got some tough games to come, but I still fancy us to finish third."
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