Unspectacular football, narrow victories and decisive Ashley Young crosses: Manchester United's new season has started just as the last one ended. An early own goal from Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker was enough to ensure the Reds kicked off the campaign with a 1-0 win from a match that failed to live up to its promise.
Hopes that United would come roaring out of the blocks were dashed, as Spurs comfortably saw the lion's share of possession in the game's first quarter. After just five minutes they'd brushed the crossbar, with Christian Eriksen chipping just over after being sent through on goal by Harry Kane. Not helped by some dodgy Morgan Schneiderlin passing, the hosts struggled to bridge the gap between midfield and attack, and Memphis Depay rarely touched the ball.
It was only through a hearty slice of fortune that United broke the deadlock midway through the first half. A quick combination of passing found Ashley Young in space on the right, and he promptly delivered a dangerous low ball into the penalty area. Wayne Rooney dithered but Kyle Walker didn't, with his overzealous intervention sending the ball beyond Michel Vorm and into the back of the net. United had the lead without having even had a shot on goal.
The goal settled the hosts, but they failed to create another clear-cut chance before the halftime whistle. Spurs remained sporadically dangerous in attack, though fortunately Matteo Darmian looked solid on his debut and cut out a couple of dangerous looking deliveries angled in behind the pairing of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind.
Little of note happened early in the second half, save for Bastian Schweinsteiger being handed his debut as a replacement for Michael Carrick on the hour. The first real chance came when the ball fell kindly for Ashley Young on the edge of the penalty area a few minutes later, though his effort was smothered on the goalline by Vorm.
Louis van Gaal's outlook soon became a more defensive one, and Memphis' fitful debut was cut short to make way for Ander Herrera. Happily, United looked pretty solid through midfield until a Spurs resurgence in the last few minutes. Smalling made a couple of important interventions and Romero two vital saves to deny Christian Eriksen, as the hosts clung on to start the season with a win.