Premier League - United down Spurs with second-half blitz
Mon, 22 Aug 21:54:00 2011
Sir Alex Ferguson's youthful side joined city rivals Manchester City and Wolves on six points at the summit of the standings courtesy of goals from the outstanding Danny Welbeck, Anderson and a late header from Wayne Rooney as Spurs collapsed in the second period.
With an average age of 23 years and 191 days, Manchester United's starting line-up was the youngest to be fielded by any Premier League team since the last day of the 2008-2009 season, and United's second youngest ever in the Premier League. Their youngest averaged 14 days per man younger than this evening's and was fielded in the 1-0 win at Hull City on May 24, 2009.
Spurs - minus the unhappy Luka Modric - looked a bit dazed at the full-time whistle. Harry Redknapp's side were well in the contest for the first hour, but seemed to visibly lose confidence when Welbeck rose to plant a free header in the net from Tom Cleverley on 61 minutes.
Welbeck played provider with a lovely backheel for Anderson to slam home the second goal of the night on 76 minutes from 12 yards out before substitute Ryan Giggs set up Rooney to head home the third goal on 87 minutes with Spurs already resigned to their fate.
Jermain Defoe hit a post on 77 minutes after a handling error by the United goalkeeper David De Gea, but there were few positives to take for the London side in the second period, especially having fought so gamely during a first half when they were marginally the better side.
Tottenham have now gone 22 years without a win against the English champions on their home patch, but that long winless streak looked set to be broken in the first half when Spurs - brimming with confidence after a 5-0 thumping of Heart of Midlothian in the Europa League on Thursday - set about their task with some relish.
They gave as good as they got in the first half as they kept the ball as well as United with Rafael van der Vaart forcing De Gea to make a smart save on 40 minutes after he drilled in a shot from distance after Gareth Bale had teed him up.
Their brightest moment of the night arrived on 52 minutes when Aaron Lennon bounded up the park. He had the chance to play in Van der Vaart in acres of space, but knocked the ball straight at Jonny Evans, much to his Dutch team-mate's chagrin.
That wasted opportunity proved to be a pivotal moment as United assumed control from that point onwards with the evergreen Brad Friedel enjoying an outstanding night in the visiting goal on his competitive debut for Tottenham.
The American keeper made an excellent stop from Cleverley in the first half, and seemed to be a one-man wall in the second half as United threatened to overrun the visiting team, who were weakened by the departure of the ill Kyle Walker at the break.
Vedran Corluka replaced him, but a creaking Spurs never looked comfortable among the buzzing red shirts that saw Ashley Young, Nani, Anderson and Rooney rise to the occasion in supporting the eager Welbeck.
Friedel thwarted Anderson and Rooney in quick succession on 54 minutes before throwing his giant frame across the goal to claw Rooney's free-kick past a post ten minutes later.
The one-way traffic continued towards the visiting goal as Friedel saved from Welbeck's overhead kick on 67 minutes.
With United 2-0 ahead Friedel dashed from his line to save from Nani on 76 minutes before Rooney's 149th goal for United completed a winning night for United in their first home outing of the season in the league minutes after he somehow lifted a shot over from only five yards out.
With the future of Chelsea target Modric still up in the air, there is little doubt Spurs will have to strengthen their squad if they are to challenge for a place among the top four this term.