Tottenham 1 Man Utd 3: Cavani inspires comeback as Red Devils avenge early-season thumping to KO Spurs' top-four dreams04/11/2021
JUSTICE for Edinson Cavani, revenge for Manchester United and a near-fatal blow to Tottenham’s hope of Champions League qualification.
United had been seething with rage ever since a Cavani ‘opener’ had been ruled out because of a supposed foul by Scott McTominay on a theatrical Son Heung-Min.
Their rage was only worsened when Son stroked Spurs into the lead soon after – but a second-half fight-back earned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men a fourth straight Premier League win.
Fred equalised and Cavani netted with a diving header from a gorgeous Mason Greenwood cross as United avenged their 6-1 defeat by Spurs back in October.
Not even the most optimistic United fan will imagine a late collapse from runaway leaders Manchester City – but Solskjaer’s team are delaying the coronation of their rivals with some strong late-season form.
This match was far more important for Spurs – who are now adrift in seventh on a weekend when their top-four rivals West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool all won.
Spurs lacked ambition and tossed away yet more points from a winning position – which has been the story of their frustrating season.
In truth, though, there was not enough ambition or quality about Jose Mourinho’s side.
The Son-McTominay incident had hardly been out of character in a first half which was low on tempo, low on quality and high rolling around and screaming.
Mourinho was fuming early on when Serge Aurier went in heavily on Paul Pogba, who appeared to respond with an elbow.
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Then Tanguy Ndombele almost out-did Arsenal’s Alex Lacazette – the undisputed king of the over-scream – as he reacted at high volume to get Scott McTominay booked for an innocuous challenge.
Marcus Rashford then joined the theatrics after a challenge from Gio Lo Celso.
United staged one decent attack before their disallowed goal – a lofted pass from Bruno Fernandes, a Pogba knock-down, a Cavani pass and Marcus Rashford’s shot deflected wide.
Then that fateful flick of the fingers from McTominay after Son had tried to drag him back.
What followed was excellent from United, but ultimately irrelevant – Fred feeding Pogba who showed happy feet before rolling a pass to Cavani, who found the net.
VAR Craig Pawson, a sensitive old soul, felt Son had been fouled. Nobody who has ever played football can honestly have felt the same.
It was at least the third time this weekend we’d all imagined we’d just seen the worst VAR decision of the season. But it’s progress, innit?
It was inevitable that Son would score.
The brave soldier had received almost five minute of treatment for that scrape of the fingernail but he showed no ill-effects as he tapped home Lucas Moura’s squared pass after a neat move from Spurs.
Cavani was booked for a spot of afters on Joe Rodon as United, quite understandably, lost their heads.
United, bristling from their injustice, began the second half at full pelt – McTominay having a shot saved before Fred evened things up.
The Brazilian midfielder had released Cavani for a shot which was pushed out by Hugo Lloris, then he reacted quickest to poke home.
Son almost restored Tottenham’s lead with a shot saved by Dean Henderson’s feet.
A Fernandes drive forced the save of the match from Lloris and Pogba then tripped himself up attempting a back-heeled finish, in a move which would have made Mourinho smirk.
Kane, who had been quiet by his standards, then began to make an impression.
First he toasted Maguire to earn his England team-mate a booking, then he twisted past Aaron Wan-Bissaka and produced a shot which forced Henderson to get busy with his feet again.
So Spurs had been having their moments before United conjured their peachy winner – Fernandes nutmegging Sergio Reguilon with a pass to Mason Greenwood who delivered a gorgeous curving cross which Cavani met with a diving header.
Cavani headed against his own post while defending a corner but that was the closest Spurs came to an equaliser.
And Greenwood rammed home a third deep in injury-time, collecting Pogba's pass and beating Lloris at his near post.
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