Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Final score 1-1, Dempsey steals a last-minute point for Spurs

Clive Mason

A last-minute goal from Clint Dempsey allowed Tottenham to steal a point against Manchester United.

A last-minute Clint Dempsey strike cancelled out Robin van Persie's opener to give Tottenham a deserved point against Manchester United.

United signalled their gameplan from kickoff - with no natural wingers in the team, a packed midfield helped United resist Tottenham's monopolisation of possession, although they started by favouring a long-ball tactic followed by intense pressing which gave the Tottenham backline some early problems.

United were extraordinarily fluid in the movement of their midfield, and it almost helped produce an early goal as Phil Jones appeared on the right wing to cross for Robin van Persie to head goalwards, but the angle proved too much for him to get any power behind it. Just afterwards, Aaron Lennon - who was to remain Tottenham's biggest threat throughout the match - almost caught David de Gea out with a left-footed effort, with Jermain Defoe ready to follow up but being ruled offside.

Despite their generally direct play when forcing an attack, the breakthrough was a classic Manchester United counter-attack, Danny Welbeck cutting inside to find Tom Cleverley, whose cross found Robin van Persie at the back post. The Dutchman made no mistake, sending a powerful header into the net and out of Hugo Lloris' reach.

Manchester United were reliant on a stroke of fortune to go in level at half-time, with Gareth Bale picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area and meeting it with a sweet right-footed strike which found it's way through a crowd of bodies. De Gea was behind it, but a last-second deflection off Rio Ferdinand's thigh sent it spinning away from him, but thankfully for United, it hit the Spanish 'keeper's legs and United retained their lead.

Shortly after the break, United were again lucky to avoid a Tottenham equaliser, as ex-Fulham duo Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey combined in the United area, the former going on a surging run before finding the latter with a square pass to leave the Texan one-on-one with De Gea, and although he could only produce a weak finish, it still required a fine save from De Gea to keep it out.

The introduction of Wayne Rooney almost allowed United to kill off the game as his heels were clipped on the corner of the area by Steven Caulker, but referee Chris Foy waved play on, to fury from the United striker. Rooney's introduction made United look more dangerous when they did get forward, but it also allowed Tottenham to put the visitors under real pressure for the first time in the game. As the snow began to fall heavier, United retreated further inside their own half, determined to hold onto their lead.

Although enjoying a dominant spell, Tottenham's best chance came through the most obvious source, Aaron Lennon's superb run ended with him finding Jermain Defoe in the area, but Rio Ferdinand rolled back the years with a perfectly-executed tackle to deny him the chance.

In the end, with United retreating ever-deeper, a long ball from Tottenham was not brought under control by United, the ball falling to Aaron Lennon who managed to find Clint Dempsey in the area. After suffering a pretty awful afternoon, it was the unlikeliest of sources, but Dempsey found the corner of the net to steal a point for Spurs.

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