Downcast Nuno looking under greater threat than Ole as feeble Spurs are floored by Man United
Tottenham (0) 0
Man United (1) 3 Ronaldo 39, Cavani 65, Rashford 86
Spurs missed their cue to inflict more damage on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with a limp performance which starts to ask serious questions about their own direction of travel.
The match was billed as having the potential to be the final nail in the United manager’s coffin. Instead, we are left wondering whether the obituaries may soon be penned for Nuno Espirito Santo.
Never the happiest looking of touchline gurus, the Spurs boss cut a beleaguered figure long before the end as his side failed to land any shots on target in an abject defeat, courtesy of goals from Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford.
His malfunctioning team were booed at half-time, during the second half, and at full time. At times, Nuno looked close to tears as his team folded.
Harry Kane, in contrast to United’s strikers, was again missing in action. Unable to get into the sort of positions he used to drift into so regularly before this unhappy campaign unfolded.
The first half in particular was a big let-down for Spurs. They expected to see their team really press home against a side whose confidence should have been shot after last week’s Liverpool mauling.
Cavani twice stole into dangerous positions early on to offer clues about how the evening was about to unfold.
He headed a chip up from Bruno Fernandes narrowly wide as United visibly grew in confidence - realising they were not up against Jurgen Klopp’s men this time, and after Fred had made Hugo Lloris scramble with a good hit from 25 yards, they took the lead.
Fernandes floated a fine crossfield ball into the inside right channel - over the head of Ben Davies – and Ronaldo was on hand to hit a superb, crisp volley into the far corner.
It was technically perfect as a strike and was his 11th in 19 games against Spurs, as this match started to take on the familiar sinking feeling for home fans of way too many United v Spurs games of the Ferguson era.
That downbeat mood did not lift much, even after a lineman’s flag rescued Spurs from another Ronaldo goal early in the second half. The Portuguese was deemed just offside before striking another fine shot beyond Lloris.
There were cries of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ aimed at an increasingly downcast Nuno when he withdrew the busy Lucas Moura in favour of Steven Bergwijn.
Not long after that, Ronaldo slipped in a pass to Cavani who clipped the ball over an advancing Lloris with the minimum of fuss. A born finisher restored to the line-up showing the boss that he needs to start more often.
Rashford came off the bench to rub salt in the wounds, outpacing a carved-open defence to fire home from Nemanja Matic’s pass.
So, it’s five defeats in the opening 10 matches for Spurs – which includes a glut of derby defeats to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal. United should have been the ones wracked with doubts and soul-searching. Instead, it was Nuno and Spurs.
Spurs: (4-2-3-1) Lloris – Emerson Royal, Romero, Dier, Davies – Hojbjerg, Skipp (Ndombele 66) – Lucas Moura (Bergwijn 54), Lo Celso (Alli 73), Son – Kane. Subs not used: Gollini, Doherty, Reguilon, Sanchez, Rodon, Tanganga
United: (3-4-1-2) De Gea – Lindelof, Varane, Maguire – Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Fred, Shaw – Bruno Fernandes (Matic 76) – Cavani (Lingard 82), Ronaldo (Rashford 71). Subs not used: Henderson, Bailly, Greenwood, Dalot, Sancho, Van De Beek.