A first half thunderbolt from Henrikh Mkhitaryan proved sufficient for Manchester United to record their first Premier League victory at Old Trafford since September on Sunday. Despite facing a barrage of second half pressure from visitors Tottenham Hotspur, United held firm and picked up three points they probably merited.
Spurs saw comfortably more of the possession in the opening period, but United were still deserving of their lead when it arrived just short of the half-hour mark. The hosts had been much more efficient when it came to creating chances: Paul Pogba was denied by Hugo Lloris after just a couple of minutes, before Ander Herrera was twice thwarted from distance. At the other end, David de Gea had to dive to tip a Christian Eriksen free-kick around the post, though otherwise had relatively little to do.
Mkhitaryan’s goal was presented to United by a poor Harry Kane pass in the centre of midfield. The excellent Herrera pounced on the loose ball before threading the Armenian international through. He lashed an emphatic finish into Lloris’ top corner, doubling his United account three days after he netted his debut goal in the Europa League.
It would’ve been two before the interval, were it not for a sharp save by Spurs’ French shot-stopper. An Antonio Valencia cross from the right found its way through to Zlatan Ibrahimović at the back post, though Ibra’s effort was well gathered. Nevertheless, United had reason to be pleased at the break: they had the lead, and appeared to be executing a classic Mourinho performance with precision.
Unfortunately the second half started a little shakier than the first had ended, and Victor Wanyama should’ve done better after being gifted a free header from point-blank range by Antonio Valencia. United had to wait until just past the hour before giving Spurs a similar scare, with a glorious Pogba free-kick rocketing back off the crossbar with Lloris rooted to the spot. The Frenchman went close again moments later after a fine one-two with Mkhitaryan, though this time Lloris was on hand to palm the ball away.
United did manage to hold on for the win, but the victory was overshadowed by a late injury sustained by the goalscorer Mkhitaryan. He appeared to twist his ankle in a tangle with Spurs left-back Danny Rose, and was stretchered off as a result. Hopefully it won’t be too long a layoff for a player who appeared to have just found his feet in the Premier League.