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Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League title ambitions suffered a major blow as Marcus Rashford’s goal gave Manchester United a 1-0 victory at Wembley on Sunday to maintain caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s perfect start, reports Reuters.
Rashford beat Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris from a tight angle in the 44th minute as rejuvenated United claimed a sixth win from six matches since former striker Solskjaer stepped in following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham had 11 shots on target in the second half but could find no way past United’s Spanish keeper David De Gea who produced a series of superb saves to deny Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld.
His heroics enabled United to hang on for a first away league win against Tottenham since 2012.
Solskjaer’s side remained in sixth spot but are now level on 41 points with Arsenal while Tottenham have 48 points in third place, nine behind leaders Liverpool and two behind champions Manchester City, who face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is widely tipped to become United’s next full-time boss but the visiting United fans were singing “Ole OleOleOle, Solskjaer, Solskjaer!” at the end as they rose to acclaim their former Champions League hero whose arrival has transformed their season.
Pochettino, meanwhile, has much to ponder after a sixth league loss of the season. Son Heung-min is about to leave for the Asia Cup, Moussa Sissoko limped off before halftime and most worrying was the sight of key striker Harry Kane hobbling off the pitch at the end after appearing to suffer an injury in stoppage time. “Results wise, to come away here and beat Tottenham is fantastic,” Solskjaer said. “We hung on in the second half and we never got to grips with it when they changed the system, but you are allowed to have a good goalkeeper.
Obviously when you make 11 saves it is a top performance, but even so, two of them were top saves but the rest you would expect David to make.”
De Gea, who looks back to his best after a dip in form earlier in the season, said Solskjaer had brought happiness back to the club.
“This is the real Manchester United,” the keeper said.
In a wide-open first half full of attacking football, Kane had a goal disallowed for the hosts but United, with Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Rashford forming a rapid attacking trio, were dangerous every time they broke forward.
The first goal always looked like being vital and it arrived for United just before the break after United turned over possession in their own half and Paul Pogba set Rashford free down the right with a superb through ball.
The United forward drove to the edge of the penalty area and fired a shot that Lloris got a firm hand to but could not keep out. Lloris redeemed himself with two saves from Pogba early in the second half but after that it was all about the excellence of De Gea as Spurs, roared on by the majority of the 80,000 crowd, desperately sought an equaliser.
First, he saved Kane’s close-range header with the striker perhaps pushed off balance by Phil Jones, then he blocked Alli’s shot with his legs after the midfielder was released one-on-one, before making a stunning reaction save to deny Toby Alderweireld’s near-post flick from a corner.
Kane’s free kick was saved acrobatically by De Gea and with five minutes remaining he saw another goalbound effort cannon off the shins of the Spaniard.
At the death, Fernando Llorente’s lobbed pass was just too far ahead of Kane, who ended the match grimacing in pain.