Spurs do their bit in title race, as 3 goals in 6 minutes see off sorry Man Utd
Published 10/04/2016 | 18:46
Tottenham's hopes of a first league title since 1961 are not over just yet, with a remarkable six-minute flurry condemning Manchester United to an embarrassing loss that keeps Leicester's cushion at the summit to seven points.
Claudio Ranieri's remarkable side ratcheted up the pressure with victory at embattled Sunderland on Sunday - a result Mauricio Pochettino's men responded to manfully in the delayed kick-off at White Hart Lane.
Just as it looked like Champions League hopefuls United would frustrate Spurs, Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela netted in six frantic second-half minutes to secure a memorable 3-0 win.
Clawing back Leicester with five matches left remains a formidable challenge, but the manner of victory in the wake of their rivals opening up a 10-point lead offers hope.
It had looked like a run of two wins in five Barclays Premier League matches would extend at home to Louis van Gaal's men, only for a collapse to follow impressive defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah's injury.
White Hart Lane erupted as United unravelled spectacularly. Alli turned home Christian Eriksen's cross in the 70th minute, before Alderweireld's powerful header and Lamela swept in a third goal to seriously dent the visitors' hopes of a top-four finish and raising fresh questions over Van Gaal's future.
Spurs still need Leicester to slip up if they are to win the title, but the second-half display underlines Pochettino's belief that it is "impossible" to set a limit on just what his "group of players could achieve in the long-term".
There was plenty of time to read the Tottenham head coach's programme notes after United's bus got caught in traffic, leading to the kick-off being put back 30 minutes.
The visitors started much brighter than you might expect from a side cooped up on a bus until 15 minutes before the scheduled kick-off, with Anthony Martial and Fosu-Mensah having early efforts blocked.
It was a sloppy, cumbersome start from Spurs, but David de Gea's save from a close-range - and offside - Harry Kane snapped them out of it.
Eriksen bent a hopeful strike wide as the home side kicked into gear, with De Gea and Fosu-Mensah combining to thwart Kane as Pochettino's men pushed for a breakthrough that Lamela should have given them in the 28th minute.
A lovely clipped ball to the back post found the Argentinian in space, yet he inexplicably guided the ball wide.
Spurs soon had another chance as Kyle Walker drifted past the statuesque Marcos Rojo and cut into the box, only for Fosu-Mensah to bring a robust end the right-back's marauding run.
It was the last chance of a spell of Tottenham dominance, with play more even and controlled before half-time was called.
The hosts started the second half much better than the opening period, with De Gea twice called into action during the opening stages to deny Eriksen and Eric Dier.
Kane's swivel and strike on the edge of the box was the next effort to call the United goalkeeper into action, with United mustering their first effort on target in the 62nd minute as Martial ended a fine run by stinging the palms of Hugo Lloris.
Pochettino's side continued to pose the biggest threat, though, and Danny Rose's deflected cross called De Gea into action once more, before injury brought the impressive Fosu-Mensah's afternoon to a premature end.
That defensive reshuffle soon had consequences.
Kane won the ball and played the ball wide to Eriksen, who sent in a wonderfully-weighted cross for Alli to slot home.
It did not stop there as United added to the 70th minute opener with Alderweireld meeting a Lamela free-kick with a powerful header.
Provider turned goalscorer in the 76th minute as matters got worse for United, with Lamela sweeping home a Rose cross.
Walker and Memphis Depay were booked as tempers frayed late in a match which saw the former hit the post, albeit from an offside position.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Rashford off, Martial stays left and Young on as central striker. Would love to know what's going on in LVG's head" - Louis van Gaal's decision to deploy some-time winger, some-time wing-back and occasional full-back Ashley Young as a striker brought plenty of scrutiny, with this from @GaryLineker.
Hugo Lloris: 6 (out of 10)
Kyle Walker: 7
Toby Alderweireld: 8
Jan Vertonghen: 7
Danny Rose: 8
Eric Dier: 7
Mousa Dembele: 7
Erik Lamela: 7
Christian Eriksen: 9
Dele Alli: 7
Harry Kane: 7
Nacer Chadli (on for Lamela, 87): 5
Son Heung-min (on for Kane, 88): 5
Ryan Mason (on for Alli, 90): 5
David de Gea: 7
Timothy Fosu-Mensah: 8
Daley Blind: 6
Chris Smalling: 7
Marcos Rojo: 5
Michael Carrick: 6
Morgan Schneiderlin: 5
Jesse Lingard: 7
Juan Mata: 5
Marcus Rashford: 6
Anthony Martial: 7
Ashley Young (on for Rashford, 45): 5
Memphis Depay (on for Mata, 76): 5
Matteo Darmian (on for Fosu-Mensah, 68): 6
MAN OF THE MATCH
Christian Eriksen: The architect of Manchester United downfall was at the heart of everything good when Tottenham went forward. Eriksen's cross for Dele Alli to open the scoring was particularly impressive.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
The injury to an 18-year-old defender played a big part in United's downfall. Timothy Fosu-Mensah was an impressive presence for the visitors and his injury was swiftly followed by Spurs' three goals in six minutes.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Louis van Gaal will have found his seat increasingly uncomfortable as the second half wore on. The United boss looked to have squeezed the attacking threat out of Tottenham, only to be undone in some style after Fosu-Mensah was forced off.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Manchester United turning up to White Hart Lane at 3.45pm for a 4pm kick-off after getting stuck in traffic. You cannot control external factors but leaving extra time when driving through London is a given.
Stoke v Tottenham (Barclays Premier League, Monday April 18)
Manchester United v Aston Villa (Barclays Premier League, Saturday April 16)
Tottenham's Eric Dier said news of Leicester's win had no impact on their approach to the match.
"No matter what happens with everyone else we have to give our best and get five wins now until the end of the season," he said on Sky Sports.
"We've got a lot of ground to make up and if they'd lost or won today we still needed to win. They made it hard for us but in the second half we were able to sort it out. We will keep on fighting until the end."
Manager Mauricio Pochettino added: "In the first half both teams were fighting a lot and it was not clear who had the power to manage the game but in the second half we dominated better and started to find space to create chances.
"We believe and still fight, the motivation is big and massive. We need to try to get points and try to arrive at the end of the season with the possibility to win the title."
Manchester United counterpart Louis van Gaal claimed his side had the better of the game before Tottenham's opener, but refused to give up on the top four.
"Until the first goal I think we are at least equal and I think we had the better chance with Martial, a big chance, big space, big time for him, but we gave the goal away and then within five minutes we were out of the game.
"Every team can lose from everybody. We are in the race but when you lose a game you have to close the gap again and that's more difficult."