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Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Martial strikes late as United snatch win

Anthony Martial’s late strike separated the sides at Old Trafford.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United nicked a 1-0 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, with Anthony Martial’s second half strike setting a closely fought encounter minutes before the final whistle. It certainly wasn’t the most dominant of victories for José Mourinho’s men, though they’ll be relieved to be back to winning ways after last weekend’s humiliation at Huddersfield Town.

United made a bright start to the game, with Romelu Lukaku failing to take advantage of a couple of promising openings in the first few minutes. Marcus Rashford also went close, skimming a long-range free-kick awkwardly in front of Hugo Lloris. But the hosts’ superiority soon gave way to Spurs’ sway, and United found themselves on the back foot for the remainder of the first half. The jury was out on Mourinho’s reshuffle.

Fortunately, Mauricio Pochettino’s side failed to convert their control into any clear-cut chances, going closest when a collision between David de Gea and Phil Jones allowed a floating cross to squirm free on the edge of the penalty area. Son Heung-min teed up Moussa Sissoko, though the French international lashed his effort off target. It was a moment that just about summed up the entirety of a poor opening period.

The second half brought renewed promise for United, who went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock within ten minutes of the restart. A brilliant intervention from Ben Davies prevented Rashford from capitalising on an uncharacteristic Lloris error, seconds before Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s drilled cross flashed across the face of goal without being met by a decisive touch. Spurs had struck lucky.

United went close again a few minutes later when a corner bounced out to Antonio Valencia on the edge of the box. The Ecuadorean almost produced a carbon copy of his screamer away at Everton earlier in the season, though this time his half-volley whistled just over the Spurs crossbar.

The chances continued to flow, Lukaku bursting through on the break moments later, only to be denied from an angle by the diving Lloris. Spurs were certainly second best, but United were soon slapped with a sharp warning against complacency. A moment of brilliance from Christian Eriksen found an onrushing Dele Alli, though he volleyed wide from point-blank range.

It was beginning to look like the game would end goalless, but a slice of good fortune ensured it was United smiling at the final whistle. A long goal-kick by de Gea inside the final ten minutes was flicked on by Lukaku, and met first by the onrushing substitute Martial. The Frenchman held off the sleeping Jan Vertonghen to convert, capping a much improved second half performance from United. It wasn’t pretty, but it was decisive. In this context, that may be all that counts.