Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur – FA Cup Live Blog – 24 January 2009
Afternoon to everyone out there – and a good morning to some of us late-sleepers stateside – as we get set for what should be quite the interesting tie between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Of the Saturday fixtures in this FA Cup round, you’d have to say this one is probably the most tantalizing, even if both managers won’t admit it. And to be honest, both have bigger fish to fry. For Sir Alex Ferguson, he must worry about trying to get his squad healthy in order to make a run in the Premiership and Champions League. United lost the likes of
Rafael, Anderson, Nani, Gary Neville and Johnny Evans pick up injuries in their Carling Cup semifinal win over Derby this week, and already will be without Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra. It’ll be interesting to see who Sir Alex tips to fill a depleted back four, with Darren Fletcher a likely candidate on the right side. Needless to say, United’s lineup will be a bit patchwork today.
For the Spurs and Harry Redknapp, they’ll be more concerned about preparing for the Carling Cup final – also against United – and what could be a relegation battle in the coming months. Redknapp himself has said the FA Cup won’t be too high on Spurs’ priority list this year. Expect several of Redknapp’s regulars to sit on the heels of a dramatic Carling Cup semifinal second leg against Burnley, in which Spurs blew a 4-1 aggregate lead only to be rescued in extra time by goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe. But you would guess, or at least hope, that a fixture like this would inspire Tottenham to perform. The last thing Spurs need is to get trounced by United before having to face them in the Carling Cup final.
Manchester United: Foster, O’Shea, Neville (c), Vidic, Fabio, Welbeck, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Berbatov, Tevez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Giggs, Tosic, Fletcher, Possebon, Chester, Eckersley.
Tottenham Hotspur: Alnwick, Gunter, Assou-Ekotto, Corluka, Dawson (c), Bentley, Huddlestone, Zokora, Bale, Modric, Pavlyuchenko.
Subs: Gomes, Gilberto, Giovani, Taarabt, Defoe, Rocha, Dervite.
Manchester United: Scholes (35′), Berbatov (37′)
Tottenham: Pavlyuchenko (5′)
90 + 4 Full Time. United win 2-1! But not before they get a scare. A long throw bounces around before Taarabat hammers a shot that appears to be blocked by Vidic. The Spurs players raise their hands and appeal for a handball, but no whistle is forthcoming. No replay of the block so I can’t say for sure, but my instincts say it was clean. Anyway, United hold on here in what was certainly an entertaining one!
90 + 3′ The ball is headed down and find its way to Gunter, but his shot is blocked by a wall of converging red jerseys.
90 + 2′ Tevez commits a foul here, free kick near mid-field for Spurs. He gets a yellow. Everybody going up now.
90 + 1′ Tottenham still looking for the final ball but nothing doing. Goal kick United.
88′ A giveaway by United in the midfield leads to some Spurs possession, but Taarabat can’t find the final ball, and his pass goes awry and rolls right into Foster’s hands. Time running out for Tottenham.
86′ Walbeck collides here with Chris Gunter, and it looks like he’ll have to come off now. Another injury for United! It’s a shame too, he’s impressed me on the right side today. Fast and dangerous with decent control. Certainly still raw but he looks like a player. Darren Fletcher will come on for him.
84′ Oh, a great chance wasted for Spurs. Assou-Ekotto makes a brilliant run in from the left side, undressing Scholes and cutting in before squaring it for Dos Santos. The former Barcelona prodigy can’t finish in traffic, though, and his attempt goes wide.
82′ No, it appears they can’t. A poor cross is cleared easily by United, and they resume their game of keep away.
82′ Defoe hounds Vidic and earns a corner kick here for Spurs. They need a breaktough, could this be it?
80′ Tottenham need a spark but they look tired right now. United whips the ball around for a solid minute without any trouble before Tevez tries to cut in and has it intercepted.
77′ Eckersley is at right fullback for United, and wins a free kick on the right side. The ball is whipped and falls to ground in the center of the box. First Scholes and then Carrick have whacks at it, but Scholes is blocked and Carrick’s shot sails well high and wide.
74′ Even if they win, you can’t help but feel United are snakebit right now. Already mired with injuries, and now they suffer potentially two more – Ronaldo and Fabio – in this game. I doubt Sir Alex will get much sympathy from the likes of Rafa or Arsene Wenger, though.
72′ A sub now for both teams. Jermain Defoe on for Tottenham and Ronaldo off for United. Ronaldo looks to be walking a little gingerly, perhaps. I’ll assume that’s the reason for his substitution. Zoran Toric on for United, while Bentley comes off for Spurs. That seems surprising to me. Bentley had looked pretty dangerous at times, and you would think Tottenham would want all the firepower they could find.
71′ Ronaldo nearly breaks free but Alnwick comes out to collect.
70′ Twenty minutes left now. Can Tottenham find an equalizer? They’ve been better this half, but still lack that final flash of skill. It eludes them here as Dos Santos breaks free down the left side – once again – but his lofted cross is far too long and rolls out of bounds.
68′ Substitution for Spurs, as Adel Taarabat comes on for Gareth Bale.
67′ Alnwick goes to ground to make a good save on Ronaldo, who cuts in from the right a fires a quick shot low. Ronaldo’s been dormant for stretches of this contest, but almost makes a big difference there.
65′ Some more solid play from Spurs sees the ball cut back to Bentley at the edge of the box, but his shot takes a deflection and drifts right into the hands of Foster.
64′ Ronaldo drifts toward the middle from the right side and looks like he’s about to hammer a shot, but instead opts to play it back. United promptly lose it from there.
62′ Tottenham fans are screaming for a foul after Walbeck takes down Corluka near the left touch line. None forthcoming, however it does appear Spurs are having some success playing the ball down the left side.
59′ And we get our first booking of the match, as Vidic sends Giovanni Dos Santos flying. It was a necessary foul after Vidic lost possession in midfield – had he not taken Dos Santos out, he might have had a break on goal.
57′ Nice bit of play from Spurs here sees the ball swung into the center. It finds its way to Bentley, who rips into it with his right foot and sends the ball just high and wide. A bit of a scare though for United.
54′ For anyone unfamiliar with Richard Eckersley, a quick browse of the Manchester United Web site reveals he is a 19-year-old defender who plays predominantly on the right side. He’ll have to play the left side for Fabio here.
53′ Fabio goes down with a knock here, and it looks like he’ll have to come off. Richard Eckersley to come on. Who? Anyway, another injury for United, who can’t seem to snag a break in that department.
52′ The Red Devils settle back into possession here, passing it around calmly. Eventually it finds Tevez on the edge of the 18, who plays it out right to a wide open Walbeck. His cross goes horribly wrong, though, and it’s a goalkick for Spurs.
49′ United counter and Ronaldo squares the ball into the middle before it deflects out for a corner. United tries to play it short but Tevez has it intercepted.
47′ Oh, that was close for Spurs. A long ball swung in from the right side finds Gareth Bale, who slips in free by the back post. Bale’s volley fails him, though, and it goes just wide for a goal kick. Some careless defending there by the red jerseys.
46′ And we’re off here in the second half, Tottenham in possession. One note, Giovanni Dos Santos has come on for Modric. Seems a bit of an odd sub unless Modric is hurt.
Haltime The stats tell a grim tale for Spurs. United with a nearly 60-40 advantage in possession and a 9-2 shot advantage. Tottenham’s only other shot on goal is a long range effort from Bentley that misses the target. On the other hand, the break couldn’t come at a better time for Spurs. They have a chance to regroup and refocus after a dizzying turn at the end of the half.
One thing’s for sure, though, Tottenham’s defense is in shambles right now. Between the three goals at Burnley and now two this half to United, it’s been a rough two games. Then again, that sort of defending is more the standard than the exception these days at the Lane. The traveling contingent will be even more disturbed by Berbatov’s tally, after having booed their former striker roundly throughout the half.
Haltime And there’s the whistle. What started so brightly for Tottenham has quickly faded, and they look tired and dejected going into the halftime break.
45′ United passing it around easily right now. They’re not even threatening so much with their possession, as much as keeping Spurs pinned back deep. When Tottenham does intercept and tries to move forward, it can’t seem to get any bodies forward.
43′ Modric cuts in the box for Tottenham, but there’s nobody in the middle to receive his pass and United easily clear.
39′ My, how quickly this game has turned. Two goals in the blink of an eye. And United keeping possession here as Spurs appear to be staggering a bit.
37′ That goal was all Carrick. An inch-perfect ball over the top and Berbatov makes no mistake. Give Berbatov credit too for a well-timed run.
36′ Another Goal for United! 2-1! Berbatov this time! I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the action. Michael Carrick plays a lovely floated ball over the top to Berbatov, who beats the offside trap and slots home past Alnwick. That goal will infuriate Spurs fans, as Berbatov comes back to haunt his old side.
34′ Goal Manchester United! 1-1! They convert on the corner. The ball is played low along the ground to Scholes, who thumps one from straightaway about 18 yards out. The ball takes a deflection off a Spurs defender, and travels through the legs of Tevez before it rockets into the back of the net. It looks to be Scholes’ goal, though.
33′ A typical bit of hustle play from Tevez earns United a corner.
32′ Again it’s Walbeck, this time scissoring into the Spurs box after a bad Tottenham giveaway in midfield. He can only slalom through so many defenders though before it’s shepherded out of touch for a goalkick.
30′ Welbeck is really looking dangerous out on that right side. Here he makes a nifty flick around a Spurs defender. The attack doesn’t go for much, but it’s neat to watch.
28′ Bentley earns a free kick from about 25 yards out, but his effort is blocked.
24′ United earn a corner but waste it here.
22′ United comes close again, This time it’s Ronaldo blazing one over the cross bar from a ways out. Tottenham on their heels here.
19′ Oh, Tevez nearly leveled it. His original shot is blocked, but he gathers it back and has another go from just outside the box. His ball thumps off the crossbar.
16′ Tottenham earn a free kick in a bit of a dangerous spot when Bentley is fouled. Huddlestone swings it in but United is there to clean it up.
13′ This is better for United. Tevez has a wild swing and a miss in the box off a nice head down from Ronaldo before Spurs clear it.
10′ A bit slow going for United here. They’ve managed a few long range shots but for most part Tottenham’s come out with a bit more energy.
7′ I sure hope Pavlyuchenko doesn’t go for a hat trick – I don’t know how many times I can go trying to spell that name out. It’ll be interesting to see now United respond now. Fabio makes a nice little move in but his efforts are wasted and the ball rolls out. Goalkick for Spurs.
5′ Goal Tottenham! It’s Pavlyuchenko! A brilliant header from the center of the box off a brilliant cross. I believe it was from Huddlestone. What a dream start for Tottenham.
4′ Ronaldo barrels in towards the box but has it poked away. You can’t help but think his class will have to shine through at some point given the lineups both teams are throwing out there.
1′ Neville looks to be playing in the middle for United. It’ll be a different role for him from his usual spot on the right side. Interesting lineup really for both teams. An especially intriguing change to see some of United’s young talent.
0′ And we’re off. United begin the game in possession.
0′ Some interesting results from the day’s earlier fixtures. Upset of the day goes to Swansea City, who beat current cup holders Portsmouth, 2-0. Other interesting results, Chelsea and Fulham both needed two late goals to beat Ipswich Town and Kettering Town, respectively.
Well, if there were any fears that second-choice lineups for both teams would produce a dull match, that certainly wasn’t the case. Tottenham pulled ahead five minutes in on a lovely diving header from Pavlyuchenko, only to see United strike back twice in two minutes via goals from Scholes (35′) and Berbatov (37′). Spurs can hold their heads high. They fought back well after those two goals and played better in the second half. But they just lacked a bit of quality near the goal, and that cost them in the end. Give credit to United as well, who defended well despite finishing the game with a back four of Eckersley, Neville, Vidic and O’Shea. Spurs could hardly find a shooting lane in the final 10 minutes.
But once again, the victory comes at a price for United. Fabio, Christiano Ronaldo and Danny Walbeck all came off with knocks, though it’s impossible to tell right now if any of them are serious. But for a team already beset by injuries, United can’t help but feel like they can’t catch a break right now.
Man of the Match
Tough to say on this one. I thought Carlos Tevez was very good, and sort of marshalled things in the middle for United. But I’ll go with Michael Carrick, who assisted both United goals. He cut a low ball across the field off a corner to Scholes, who ball deflected in for United’s first goal, and played a beautiful ball over the top that put Berbatov clean through for the second. Props also to Gary Neville as well for captaining the side and playing central defence, instead of his usual right, for United.
All in all an entertaining match, but what do you think? Feel free to share any thoughts or reactions in the comments section. And be sure to check back for plenty more live blogging from the FA Cup, Premiership, Champions League and more.