Impressive Man Utd sink sorry Spurs

Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener was his first Premier League goal in almost six weeks, since United’s 2-1 win at West Ham

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United had bounced back from “a difficult week” after they turned the heat on his Tottenham counterpart Nuno Espirito Santo with a fully deserved victory.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the inspiration behind an excellent United display, which provided the perfect response to last week’s 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool at Old Trafford that raised questions over Solskjaer’s future.

Solskjaer is not out of the woods yet, but Ronaldo made life much more comfortable for his boss with a sublime far-post volley from Bruno Fernandes’ cross six minutes before the break, followed by a slide-rule pass to set up Edinson Cavani for a second after 64 minutes.

“The most important thing for the fans and me and the players is that we connect together,” said the Norwegian boss, whose side recorded a first win in five Premier League games.

“It has been a difficult week for the players, the club, the fans, for me. I’ve stayed away from most of the noise. But you know what is happening out there and you know you have to put a performance up.

“Every time you lose a game it is the worst feeling in the world as a coach or manager. We needed the whole week to work on this performance.”

Marcus Rashford wrapped things up with a cool finish four minutes from time as Spurs fans erupted in fury against Nuno and their chairman Daniel Levy, with chants of “we want Levy out” echoing around the vast stadium.

Tottenham were mediocre with Harry Kane barely in the game and unrest among their fans, who turned on manager Nuno when he replaced Lucas Moura with Steven Bergwijn in the second half.

Ronaldo to the rescue

Ronaldo demonstrated his world-class talent just when Solskjaer and United needed it most in a game they simply could not afford to lose.

Aided by the tireless and outstanding Cavani, the Portuguese striker added the flourishes to a United performance that was a huge improvement on that catastrophe against Liverpool, although that was not difficult and Spurs were very poor opponents.

Ronaldo was a constant threat with his movement, also seeing a thunderous strike ruled out for offside as United dominated.

He showed glorious technique for his goal then demonstrated the perfect link-up with Cavani to send the Uruguayan in for a typically composed finish, which effectively ended the contest.

Solskjaer was able to restore Raphael Varane to his defence alongside captain Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in a back three that dealt comfortably with the flimsy attacking efforts of out-of-sorts Spurs.

And while this must be placed in the context that Spurs are simply not in the same class as Liverpool, it was still a very satisfying 90 minutes for Solskjaer after what has been a harrowing week in the aftermath of that destruction by Liverpool in front of their own fans.

It can only be the start, however, with United playing Atalanta in Italy in the Champions League this week before a derby meeting with Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

There is a long way back for United and Solskjaer from that Liverpool loss but where there is Ronaldo there is hope.

This was a highly efficient all-round performance and a win that was thoroughly merited.

Spurs supporters in mutinous mood

Spurs manager Nuno has been struggling to win over supporters but the atmosphere inside this vast arena turned mutinous as they slipped tamely to defeat here.

They were already in a grim mood before Nuno made the highly-contentious decision to replace Moura with Bergwijn nine minutes after the break. The stadium was engulfed in loud boos and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at Nuno.

And when Rashford raced through more non-existent defending late on to add insult to injury, Levy was in the firing line as thousands of Spurs fans got up and left.

Tottenham failed to have a shot on target with even Kane feeling the frustration of the home fans when a cross went astray.

Nuno’s status, way down the wanted list of managers when Spurs moved to replace sacked Jose Mourinho, always meant he needed a fast start but his sterile style of football and the manner in which they barely laid a glove on United sparked an angry reaction.

United’s confidence would have been fragile after the way they were dismantled by Liverpool but Spurs were so cautious, sitting back and playing a waiting game that allowed Solskjaer’s side to grow into the game and take control.

Nuno cut a lonely figure as he felt that anger from Spurs fans, looking almost as lost as Solskjaer did at Old Trafford last Sunday as Liverpool ran riot.

And Kane is the struggling symbol of Spurs’ current plight, scuffling around the margins and a target for the same fans who once took pride in calling him “one of our own”.

Kane has looked a different, reduced player since a proposed move to Manchester City fell through in the summer although it should also be added that the service into England’s captain was negligible. It was Son Heung-min who carried most of the energy and threat on a thoroughly miserable night for Spurs.

Nuno now needs victories quickly, with a home game against Vitesse – who beat Spurs nine days ago in Arnhem – in the Europa Conference League before a visit to Everton presenting a hazardous fixture list.

Nuno Espirito Santo's decision to withdraw Lucas Moura did not go down well with the Tottenham fans
Nuno Espirito Santo’s decision to withdraw Lucas Moura did not go down well with the Tottenham fans
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Player of the match

CavaniEdinson Cavani

Line-ups

Tottenham

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Lloris
  • 12Leite de Souza Junior
  • 4RomeroBooked at 90mins
  • 15Dier
  • 33DaviesBooked at 78mins
  • 5Højbjerg
  • 29SkippSubstituted forNdombeleat 66′minutes
  • 27Lucas MouraSubstituted forBergwijnat 54′minutes
  • 18Lo CelsoSubstituted forAlliat 73′minutes
  • 7Son Heung-Min
  • 10Kane

Substitutes

  • 2Doherty
  • 3Reguilón
  • 6D Sánchez
  • 14Rodon
  • 20Alli
  • 22Gollini
  • 23Bergwijn
  • 25Tanganga
  • 28Ndombele

Man Utd

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1de Gea
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 19Varane
  • 5MaguireBooked at 22mins
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 39McTominay
  • 17FredBooked at 73mins
  • 23ShawBooked at 19mins
  • 18Bruno FernandesSubstituted forMaticat 76′minutes
  • 21CavaniSubstituted forLingardat 82′minutes
  • 7Cristiano RonaldoSubstituted forRashfordat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Bailly
  • 10Rashford
  • 11Greenwood
  • 14Lingard
  • 20Dalot
  • 25Sancho
  • 26Henderson
  • 31Matic
  • 34van de Beek

Referee:
Stuart Attwell

Attendance:
60,356

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