Spurs shatter United to ease pressure on manager

Manchester United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3: Dempsey strike stuns Old Trafford to give Villas-Boas credibility on one of biggest stages

He did not sprint down the touchline and slide to the turf in his suit, but this night would have done for Andre Villas-Boas what Porto's elimination of Manchester United from the Champions League here did for Jose Mourinho.

One of Saturday morning's papers declared that Tottenham were in a state of crisis, with Villas-Boas facing the same kind of player unrest that did for him at Chelsea.

This breathtaking, breathless game was some response. When a longed-for final whistle blew, the Spurs manager punched the air repeatedly. Last season, during his brief tenure at Stamford Bridge, he had seen a three-goal lead evaporate against Manchester United.

This time, his players clung on, surviving two strikes against the frame of Brad Friedel's goal to embrace a victory that might change everything at White Hart Lane. Sir Alex Ferguson was prowling the touchline long before the interval, something he does not do unless he is especially anxious or angry.

Frankly, he was entitled to be livid. "In the first half we simply defended poorly," the United manager reflected afterwards. "We were fantastic in the second and should have got something from the game. But in the first half we were just playing against the wind."

Tottenham had attacked from the very beginning. There is not much that rhymes with Vertonghen but those who had travelled up from London made a fair fist of it as his name rolled around the great stadium.

His height, 6ft 2in, and a hulking, muscular build does not suggest pace but Jan Vertonghen is deceptively quick and, having played a one-two with Gareth Bale, he ran into spaces that opened up before him like a prairie. Rafael da Silva and Rio Ferdinand performed the role of an honour guard as he shot and, although Jonny Evans slid in to block, the Ulsterman succeeded only in deflecting the ball past Anders Lindegaard.

There was no real let-up. Ferguson made a tacit admission that a midfield containing both Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, men with a combined age greater than Sir Bobby Charlton, will inherently lack pace by withdrawing the Welshman in favour of Wayne Rooney during what would have been an ill-tempered interval.

There was never the slightest possibility Scholes, who with Rooney dazzled in the second half, would get anywhere near Bale as he sprinted directly at the heart of a creaking United defence.

Jermain Defoe had made himself available to his left and Ferdinand was blocking his route to goal. He need not have bothered. Bale kept running and in his guts Lindegaard would have known what was coming next, a shot surgically delivered into the corner of his net.

Those who knew some of the history between these clubs would have known this match was not dead. Gary Neville remembers the first half at White Hart Lane exactly 11 years before as the most embarrassing 45 minutes he had been involved in. Tottenham ended it 3-0 up and lost the match 5-3.

As Glenn Hoddle celebrated with his backroom staff during the interval, Teddy Sheringham, who had returned to Spurs from Old Trafford, looked up and told his manager that the game was not yet done.

Nor was this. First, Rooney, who was later to strike Friedel's post with a vicious free-kick, provided a beautifully-measured cross for Luis Nani to slide home in front of the Stretford End. Tottenham responded by immediately scoring a third as Bale found Defoe whose shot, half-saved by Anders Lindegaard, was driven home by Clint Dempsey.

Then Shinji Kagawa, played in by Michael Carrick, performed a balletic turn that had Friedel sprawling helplessly in front of him.

Three goals had been scored in the space of 139 seconds. Only the introduction of rush goalies could have made Old Trafford look more like a school playground.

Manchester Utd (4-4-1-1): Lindegaard; Da Silva, Ferdinand (Hernandez, 90), Evans, Evra; Giggs (Rooney, 45), Carrick, Scholes, Kagawa (Welbeck, 79); Nani; Van Persie.

Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Dembele (Huddlestone, 83), Sandro; Lennon, Demsey (Sigurdsson, 70), Bale; Defoe (Dawson, 90).

Referee: Chris Foy

Man of the match: Bale (Tottenham)

Match rating: 9/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us