LONDON: Manchester United turned anger into winning aggression and a 3:1 victory at Tottenham which increased the pressure on their old boss, Jose Mourinho.
Goals from Fred and Edinson Cavani rewarded a performance which accelerated from unimpressive in the first half to outstanding in the second half and extended to 15 United’s remarkable unbeaten away-game record.
Mourinho was left to reflect that Tottenham are losing sight of a Champions League place and their League Cup Final date with Manchester City on April 25 may be his own date of employment destiny.
Tottenham thrashed United 6-1 at Old Trafford back in October but their form has faded this year while the Red Devils’ have gone from strength to strength. Hence United began the game second in the Premier League, five places and 11 points ahead of a Spurs managed by their former boss Mourinho.
United had won only once on their last eight visits to Tottenham and set up cautiously from the start. Heung-min Son sliced wide from an early half-chance and Victor Lindelof headed a Lucas Moura cross over his own crossbar. At the other end Cavani provided an early opening for Marcus Rashford but the England forward’s shot was deflected for a corner by Dier.
Cavani thought he had shot United ahead superbly in the 34th minute on a precision pass from Paul Pogba. However Tottenham protested that Scotland midfielder Scott McTominay had fouled Son in the build-up, flicking a hand into the face of the Korean who immediately collapsed to the ground.
Referee Chris Kavanagh denied the goal after viewing the pitchside screen. The incident was considered an accidental foul and thus saved McTominay from what would have been a second yellow card and a red. Son and Tottenham took advantage five minutes later. Kane and Moura tore United’s defence apart and Son shot home from close range.
United’s irritation exploded as Cavani was booked for a clash with Spurs’ Wales defender Joe Rodon.
United were decisively more positive in the second half and equalised deservedly in the 59th minute. Cavani’s close-range shot was parried by Hugo Lloris and Fred followed up to score his first goal of the season.
Spurs sought to respond but Henderson saved with his legs from Son and Kane and Cavani dived brilliantly forward to head United in front in the 78th minute with his seventh league goal. The creative credit went to Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, substituting for Rashford.
Cavani then popped up in defence to head off the goal-line and preserve the lead he had provided. Mason Greenwood struck a killing third in stoppage time.