Neither Manchester United nor Tottenham Hotspur are having the happiest of seasons, so it's no surprise that when the two went head to head at White Hart Lane they combined for a result that neither were happy with. Spurs, perhaps, will be the more disappointed that the match finished 2-2 after twice having gone ahead, but there were plenty of chances for the visitors to claim the points as well. They simply didn't.
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The first major chance of the game fell to Manchester United. Wayne Rooney robbed Vlad Chiriches in the Tottenham half before freeing Antonio Valencia on the right. But the winger delayed his cross, allowing Sandro to charge it down, and by the time the rebound fell to Rooney the defence was back in position for a block.
Then it was the hosts' turn. Spurs pushed up, and eventually won a dangerous free kick after an error of judgement from Jonny Evans, who brought down Paulinho on the edge of the box while the midfielder was driving away from goal. Kyle Walker stepped up and drove a shot underneath the wall, leaving David de Gea helpless and giving Tottenham a 1-0 lead.
United could easily have gone further behind over the next few minutes. Danny Welbeck scrambled clear when it looked as though Michael Dawson was on the verge of poking home a corner, and Roberto Soldado was guilty of a quite ludicrous miss after being played through by Paulinho. Then Aaron Lennon was denied by de Gea from an acute angle. Spurs were on the front foot, and it seemed like only a matter of time before the second goal arrived.
But when it came, it was at the wrong end of the pitch. Phil Jones robbed Moussa Dembele on the United right, then drove down the flank and thumped a cross in the vague direction of Rooney. The delivery was too high for the striker, but then Walker made a catastrophic error, backheeling it back into his international teammate's path. Presented with the ball six yards from goal, Rooney was never going to miss, and he sent a thundering first-time effort past Hugo Lloris to level the scores.
United looked like the better side after Rooney's strike, but Spurs weren't going away quietly, and they restored their lead just after the break with a breathtaking strike from Sandro. Given space to run at goal, the Brazilian motored forward, shifted the ball to his right foot and sent a 30-yard thunderbolt straight into the top corner. De Gea didn't even move.
Tottenham didn't have much time to celebrate their goal, however -- within seconds they'd been pegged back yet again. Nemanja Vidic won a fifty-fifty challenge in the left channel after a mad charge out of defence, the ball falling to Rooney to play a superb pass forward to Welbeck. Lloris came out to make the challenge, but he failed to get anything on the ball, taking out the striker's trailing leg instead. Mike Dean pointed to the spot, and Rooney blasted the penalty straight down the middle to make it 2-2.
A similar ball to Welbeck very nearly resulted in another United goal. The striker raced onto a long pass from midfield, stopping it at the byline before turning Dawson inside out and running at goal. Unfortunately for the visitors, the quality of the final ball failed to match the run, and Rooney's supporting run went unseen, leaving Welbeck to cross harmlessly through the six-yard box.
Spurs were getting their chances too. A Shinji Kagawa blocked shot -- the playmaker's first major contribution to the game -- saw the ball break to Walker with acres of space ahead of him. The fullback went on a merry romp down the right wing, blowing past the United defence before sending a cross in for Andros Townsend. Alas for the hosts, it was a little ahead of the substitute, and the ball went out for a goal kick.
There were chances at both ends as the game drew to a close, and United nearly managed a goal right at the death when Lloris spilled a corner at Chris Smalling's feet only for the Spurs defence to scramble away. When the dust settled, however, it remained 2-2, leaving both sides regretting a pair of dropped points.
Tottenham Hotspur starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Vlad Chiriches, Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen; Paulinho, Sandro; Aaron Lennon (Andros Townsend 65'), Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli (Gylfi Sigurdsson 85'); Roberto Soldado (Jermain Defoe 72').
Goals: Walker 18', Sandro 54'.
Manchester United starting lineup (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones; Danny Welbeck (Javier Hernandez 73'), Shinji Kagawa (Ashley Young 84'), Antonio Valencia (Nani 84'); Wayne Rooney.
Goals: Rooney 32' 57'.