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05/31/2023
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Spurs show some fight against Man United to give them a glimmer of hope

LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur kept their faint hopes of Champions League qualification alive on Thursday after staging a second-half comeback to salvage a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford put the visitors 2-0 up at the break after dominating the opening 45 minutes but in Ryan Mason’s first game as interim boss, Spurs roused themselves to snatch a point. Pedro Porro volleyed in his second goal for the club on 56 minutes before Harry Kane fed Son Heung-Min to side-foot home an equaliser 11 minutes from time.

The result leaves Spurs six points behind fourth-placed United having played two games more, meaning they will likely have to win at Liverpool on Sunday to stay alive in the race for a top four spot.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)


Rapid reaction

1. Spurs show some fight to give them a glimmer of hope

The bar is pretty low for Tottenham these days but after Sunday’s 6-1 thrashing at Newcastle United, replacing one interim manager with another by sacking Cristian Stellini and appointing Ryan Mason and the players choosing to refund the 3,000 beleaguered fans who travelled to Tyneside, this second half showing is a flicker of light in the darkness.

Although there were protests outside the ground before kick-off venting fan anger at owners ENIC and chairman Daniel Levy’s running of the club, there was a concerted effort among home supporters to get behind their team in the early minutes.

It was actually a chant aimed at the Glazer family from the away end — the now familiar soundtrack to United games, “get out of our club” — which triggered the first anti-Levy sentiment from Spurs fans.

“We want Levy out,” they sang briefly with their team 1-0 down and as United were barely required to move beyond second gear, those chants became widespread from the midway point of the first half.

A ‘Levy Out’ banner was held up in the South Stand at the start of the second half at 2-0 down and the mood threatened to turn very sour before Pedro Porro’s 56th-minute volley renewed the competitive edge to the game.

Son’s equaliser was just reward for a much-improved display and Mason has the first brick of a platform to build on in the weeks ahead. That said, Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday is a difficult occasion in which to build further momentum.

2. United’s away record haunts them again

There are mitigating factors given this has been a long season for United and they played 120 minutes against Brighton in Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal but it was infuriate Erik ten Hag that United were unable to see this out.

They had control of this game and wasted chances to kill Spurs off before half-time, and again at 2-1 when Bruno Fernandes somehow hit the crossbar when it appeared easier to score.

United have not beaten any of the current top nine sides away from home in the league this season. They have won just two of their last seven away games — at Real Betis in the Europa League and Nottingham Forest in the Premier League — and while this result was enough to maintain a buffer from those outside the top four, it is an obvious area of improvement for United next season.

3. Battle lines are drawn in Kane transfer

United are expected to try and sign Harry Kane from Tottenham this summer and the visiting supporters made their feelings known here with serenades of “Harry Kane, we’ll see you in June.”

The England captain will be playing at Old Trafford that month — given Gareth Southgate’s side host North Macedonia in a Euro 2024 qualifier on June 19 — but this was of course a reference to a move which makes a lot of sense for everyone other than Spurs.

Kane will have a year left on his contract this summer and is expected to hold talks over his future at the end of the campaign. Kane had the last laugh, denying United victory with a superb ball for Son to haul Spurs level. That combination has now produced 24 Premier League goals, tying the record held by Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

Rashford provided a reminder that United already possess a potent goalscorer of their own with a superbly-taken goal on the stroke of halftime; the 25-year-old’s 29th goal of the season is also his 50th away from home in all competitions, 19 more than any other United player since his debut in February 2016.


Best and worst performers

BEST

Marcus Rashford, FW, Manchester United.
Made one and scored another. Now has 20 Premier League goal contributions this season, his joint second-best tally.

Harry Kane, FW, Tottenham.
Produced the moment of quality that earned Spurs a point.

Cristian Eriksen, MF, Manchester United.
Typically inventive passing gave United a measure of control they lost when he went off just after the hour mark.

WORST

Richarlison, FW, Tottenham.
Wasted some dangerous moments with poor decision-making and hooked for Dejan Kulusevski on 61 minutes having completed just five of nine attempted passes.

Antony, FW, Manchester United.
Chose the wrong option repeatedly and did well to last 71 minutes.

Eric Dier, DF, Tottenham.
Beaten too easily for Rashford’s goal and missed a sitter from six yards as Spurs chased the game.


Highlights and notable moments

After Jadon Sancho’s early goal, United looked like they’d cruise to a win after Marcus Rashford doubled United’s lead before halftime.

But Pedro Porro pulled one back with this rocket to the top of the net, and the rally was on.

With momentum fully on their side, Harry Kane connected with Son Heung-Min for the pivotal equaliser.


After the match: What the players/managers said

Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag, on giving up the lead: “We came here, as every game, we come to win. It was clear how they managed the game and we wanted to win, which we didn’t. Before I think a draw was ok but when you see this game you have to get over the line.”

Manchester United’s Christian Eriksen, on the result: “I think we took a bit of the gas off and that was our problem. I think it’s been that for a few games where we are sharp and coming ahead and [haven’t] kept it going. I think we lost a bit of energy, a bit of control and they got belief and it went the other way.”

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, on the rally: “We didn’t want to let the fans down, we wanted to give everything and that was the dressing room speech. We couldn’t let the game go. We were really angry about it, we didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down at half-time. I think the lads showed really good character.”


Key stats

– Manchester United had won 15 straight Premier League games when leading by multiple goals, since a 2-2 draw vs. Aston Villa on Jan. 15, 2022.

– No player in Premier League history has assisted a single teammate to score more times than Harry Kane has for Son Heung-Min (24, level with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard for Didier Drogba).

– Son: No goals in first 11 games against Manchester United (all competitions). He’s now got four goals in his last six matches combined against the Red Devils.


Up next

Tottenham: Now in fifth place, Spurs visit to seventh-placed Liverpool on Sunday. That result will go a long way in determining if there will be Champions League (or any European) competition for either side next season.

Manchester United: Back to Old Trafford for a Sunday clash with Aston Villa, who finds themselves behind Tottenham in standings on goal differential. United (with two games in hand) have a six-point cushion over both Tottenham and Villa for the fourth and final Champions League spot.

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