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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Spurs show resilience to peg back Man United and restore some pride after wretched Geordie visit

Tottenham (0) 2 Porro 56, Son 79

Man United (2) 2 Sancho 7, Rashford 44

Spurs showed plenty of backbone as they rescued a seemingly lost cause to keep those flickering European ambitions alive.

They looked as if they were heading for another night of woe as they trailed 2-0 at the interval to a confident United buoyed by Sunday's FA Cup semi-final success against Brighton.

But they dug deep in response to what must have been a stirring half-time team talk from caretaker boss Ryan Mason to salvage an unlikely draw. Heung-Min Son bundled in the leveller after Pedro Porro had reduced the deficit.

Tottenham's season-long belief that they would finish in the top four again has melted away on the back of some impoverished performances and results and only a win here might have given them hope again. As it is, United are six points ahead, having two games in hand, and that particular battle is surely lost.

A run of two wins in nine matches ended involvement in two competitions and drained the life out their pursuit of the top four but this will have restored a bit of pride following the 6-1 mauling at Newcastle last weekend.

It did not take long for that familiar sinking feeling to rear its ugly head.

Spurs looked to be in the mood to get on the front-foot as quickly as possible from kick-off – and an attacking trident of Son, Kane and Richarlison chosen by Ryan Mason in his latest interim stint looked full of intent.

Yet the massed ranks of the South Stand had barely cleared their throats to urge on their team, before it was 1-0 to United. A simple cut inside from the left by Sancho was a prelude to an arrowed shot into the far corner of Fraser Forster’s net.

Ah yes, Forster. Regular stopper Hugo Lloris went off at half-time in the 6-1 shellacking at Newcastle on Sunday and there were suggestions of a slight hip injury. A slight axing might also be the case. The thrashing was not down to him, but he was hardly at the top of his game.

Harry Kane took over the captain’s armband in a match billed mischievously by some as an early audition for a summer move to United, who have not hidden their interest in the Tottenham talisman.

Neither have the fans. “Harry Kane, we’ll see you in June,” they teased.

It needed a header off the line from Ivan Perisic to deny Sancho a second goal in the opening 20 minutes – a deflected shot almost looping into the roof of the net.

David de Gea twice thwarted Perisic, but Spurs fell further behind before the break when Marcus Rashford easily got the better of Eric Dier with a sidestep before blasting home.

Tottenham badly needed a lift and got it early in the second half when Pedro Porro picked up the pieces after a goalmouth scramble to prod home his first for the club.

And those revived hopes just about survived the next United attack, in which Bruno Fernandes cracked a shot onto the crossbar after bursting through a gap to have only Forester in front of him eight yards out.

It was almost 2-2 when a classic Kane-Son combination gave the South Korean an opening in the sort of position from which he has thrived so often in the past – in the left channel.

He slid that one wide but made no mistake late on with a copycat move as Kane’s pinged ball in from the right wascuffed home from closer range.

There had also been a perfect chance for Dier before then, when the defender made a mess of a free header from a Perisic cross when just yards out – miscuing horribly.

So not all hopeless then, on a dismal rainy night when fans on the High Road before kick-off and during the game itself repeatedly made their antipathy towards the chairman known.

“We want Levy out!” they chanted, along with the imploring: “Get out of our club.”

These are strange ‘hard times’ for the club, which has a magnificent new stadium, a place in the top half dozen in an elite league, two World Cup winners and a world-class striker. But everything is relative, and patience has drained in having the status of a nearly team.

It does not help that their bitter rivals Chelsea could end up with the one man who made them feel special in recent years – Mauricio Pochettino.

Lest we forget, this has never been a great fixture for Spurs. There have been more than twice as many United league wins as north London wins in this particular fixture since the teams first met in 1899.

Four wins in a row for United since that famous 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford in 2020 underlines the lopsided nature of this contest – not just in recent times, but throughout history.

If it felt like they might have a chance of bucking the trend a few years ago, we are still in the realms of being grateful for small mercies - such as battling draws.

Spurs: (3-4-2-1) Forster – Romero, Dier, Lenglet – Porro (Danjuma 77), Skipp, Hojbjerg, Perisic (Davies 77) – Richarlison (Kulusevski 61), Son (Tanganga 87) – Kane. Subs not used: Sanchez, Lucas Moura, Sarr, Austin, Mundle

United: (4-2-3-1) De Gea – Wan-Bissaka (Malacia 71), Lindelof, Shaw, Dalot – Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 61) – Antony (Weghorst 71), Bruno Fernandes, Sancho (Martial 61) – Rashford. Subs not used: Sabitzer, Pellistri, Butland, Williams, Elanga

Attendance: 61,586


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