Manchester United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0: match report

01 December 2009 09:54
The kids are more than all right. Sir Alex Ferguson's faith in his latest crop of fledglings was vindicated last night when Darron Gibson, the 22-year-old midfielder, elegantly evicted an experienced Tottenham Hotspur side from the Carling Cup.

Ferguson has watched Gibson mature in training, noted the Republic of Ireland international's dedication to developing his game and observed last week that 'sometimes you cannot hold a young man back'', adding that the hour was fast approaching for Gibson to challenge more established players and dominate centre-stage.

 Related ArticlesFerguson to keep faith with United youngstersFletcher: Ryan Giggs a 'legend' at Manchester UnitedSpurs to face United without PavlyuchenkoFerguson keeps faith with Carling Cup kidsSport on televisionThat hour arrived in the rain on Tuesday night, Gibson scoring two wonderful goals, showing positioning, vision and technical expertise. As well as Gibson's display, Ferguson will have taken pride from the promise of Ritchie de Laet at left-back, Danny Welbeck's tirelessly attacking through the middle and down both flanks as well as an improved performance from Anderson in the centre.

Tottenham were disappointing, dithering in building towards goal and too uncertain defensively. Spurs had actually started the stronger, Aaron Lennon troubling Gary Neville, but it was United who reached the break with a 2-0 lead as Gibson opened his season's account in spectacular fashion with fine strikes from outside the area. By half-time, Old Trafford was shouting 'shoot'' whenever Gibson had possession, even in the centre-circle.

His first was a well-worked affair assisted by judicious application of the advantage law by Mark Clattenburg. Gabriel Obertan and Welbeck combined well in midfield, allowing Ji-Sung Park to take control and stroke the ball down the left towards Anderson.

The Brazilian turned inside Alan Hutton and glided into the middle. David Bentley flew into a challenge on Anderson, who managed to release the ball to Gibson before hitting the deck. Opportunity knocked. With Spurs struggling to man the barricades, Gibson shot low and hard, the ball speeding through Sébastien Bassong's legs and past Gomes.

United's opener was against the run of play. Harry Redknapp had picked a team packed with full internationals, with Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane leading the line. Lennon and Bentley provided good width while the reserve full-backs, Hutton and Gareth Bale, also sought to stretch the holders.

Hutton launched one early attack, playing the ball to Keane, who set up Defoe. The England striker's shot was easily saved by Tomasz Kuszczak, the United keeper again starting. Ben Foster failed even to make the bench, where Ben Amos was installed, although Foster is expected to start against Wolfsburg in the Champions League next week. Surprisingly given the quality of attacking personnel, Spurs lacked a cutting edge. Their confidence was knocked when Keane's compatriot, Gibson, first came calling but Redknapp's men kept attacking. Bale, briefly prominent, lifted over a magnificent cross that Defoe controlled with his right foot and then let fly with his left. De Laet, another of Ferguson's promising fledglings, threw himself across to thwart Defoe.

United's defenders impressed, making some crucial stops. Vidic was outstanding, dispossessing Hutton, Bentley and then Keane twice, confirming that the Serb has lost none of his defensive strengths.

With eight minutes of the half remaining, Dimitar Berbatov turned sweetly 30 yards out, ignoring Michael Dawson's attentions and sweeping the ball inside to Gibson. Here was a moment that will have particularly delighted Ferguson as he sat on the naughty step in the directors' box, completing his two-game suspension for criticising Alan Wiley. It was a superb one-two that spoke volumes for the technical skills taught in United's academy. Welbeck responded to Gibson's first-time lay-off with the subtlest of touches, the ball flicked back elegantly with the outside of the striker's boot. Beautifully set up by Welbeck, Gibson brought his right down into the ball, sending it swerving past Gomes.

Redknapp removed Wilson Palacios at the break, introducing Tom Huddlestone, and Spurs carried a marginally greater attacking menace. Shortly before the hour-mark, Bale eluded Neville and cut the ball back into the box towards Bentley. The England winger, who has steadily rebuilt his reputation after his early-season travails, caught the ball well enough but Kuszczak saved well.

As the game threatened to peter out, Ferguson injected some energy by sending on the busy Kiko Macheda, who promptly set off on a weaving run that almost brought reward.

Ferguson changed the shape as well, switching from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 with Macheda leading the attack and Welbeck now patrolling the left. The England Under-21 international was able to get forward quickly, linking up with Macheda and showing the urgency that Spurs lacked. Redknapp had also made a change, bringing on Peter Crouch for Keane but the story remained the same. When Bentley did manage to whip in a decent corner that seemed to be heading for Crouch, Vidic athletically intervened. Vidic kept reading Spurs' intentions, brilliantly reading Huddlestone's attempted pass to the feet of Crouch. Tottenham were well-represented in the crowd of 57,212 but the majority applauded Vidic's vision and the continued excellence of the centre-half's younger colleagues.

Match details

Manchester United (4-4-2): Kuszczak; Neville, Brown, Vidic, De Laet; Park, Gibson, Anderson (Tosic 81), Obertan (Carrick 62); Welbeck, Berbatov (Macheda 62). Subs: Amos (g), Owen, Giggs, Fletcher.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Bassong, Bale; Bentley, Palacios (Huddlestone h-t), Jenas, Lennon; Keane (Crouch 65), Defoe. Subs: Walker (g), Pavlyuchenko, Naughton, Corluka, Rose. Booked: Hutton

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Source: Telegraph

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