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Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United: Reds stumble again in top four road trip

Just threw it away...

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Manchester United missed a golden opportunity to put some distance between themselves and top four rival Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs have been in disarray for months now, clinging onto hopes of Champions League qualification thanks to results from early in the season. It was the return of Ryan Mason as interim-boss on Thursday, the third manager of the season for the London outfit, and he oversaw an inspired second half performance to take the game out of United’s grasp.

The Reds were dominant early on, and were rewarded with a goal. Jadon Sancho took a touch inside after receiving the ball on the left wing, and place a nice shot past Fraser Forster for 1-0 after just seven minutes.

It set the tone, United pinning back Spurs early and often as they looked to build a lead. They would make it 2-0 just before the halftime interval with a Bruno Fernandes long ball finding Marcus Rashford, and the Englishman easily beat Eric Dier to blast a shot past Forster. It was his 29th goal of a remarkable individual season, and seemed as though it would be the clincher ahead of the second half, but it wasn’t quite that simple.

Tottenham came out on the front foot after the break, getting a few set pieces and causing chaos. Their breakthrough came in the 56th minute, with Pedro Porro firing back a rebound after the initial clearance. De Gea was upset that offside wasn’t called for Richarlison impeding him, but the referee and VAR saw nothing wrong with it.

United had a golden chance to seize control again, with Bruno skipping through the defense and firing a shot past Forster, but it cruelly whacked off the underside of the cross bar.

It was the last real sense that United would retake control.

In true “a tale of two halves” fashion, Spurs capitalized on the let off by pushing forward again. Eric Dier had arguable a worse miss on an open header in front of goal, placing it far wide of the target, but it signaled a definitive change of momentum. In the 79th minute Heung Min Son tapped in the equalizer off the end of a quick break, and the throwaway by the Reds was complete.

United are back at Old Trafford on Sunday to face Unai Emery’s Aston Villa side, who are also on the hunt for European qualification. The worrying defensive mistakes, the mounting injuries, and the tense top four situation have fans on edge right now, and the finish line is still far away.

Luckily, United have fared much better at home this season than in previous campaigns. The stage is set for them to get back on track and regain some confidence against a tough opponent, but they have to show up and get the job done.