Cristiano Ronaldo News

Monday, February 05, 2007

Report: Spurs 0 United 4

United turned on the second-half style again to regain their six-point lead over Chelsea at the top of the Barclays Premiership.

The rampant Reds blew Tottenham away with three goals after Cristiano Ronaldo had edged the Reds in front with a late first-half penalty. Nemanja Vidic and Paul Scholes stunned the home side with their strikes soon after the interval and Ryan Giggs completed the Reds' second 4-0 win of the week with his effort 13 minutes from time.

Sir Alex Ferguson sent arguably his strongest eleven onto the turf at White Hart Lane, a happy hunting ground in recent years with five United wins from the last five visits. The closest calls saw Patrice Evra recalled at left-back in place of Gabriel Heinze and Henrik Larsson, a scoring sub in midweek, getting the nod over fit-again Louis Saha.

The home fans predictably booed Cristiano Ronaldo and their former player Michael Carrick as the creative pair tried to get hold of the ball in the opening exchanges. But it was Gary Neville who first threatened the Spurs defence, his surging run drawing a foul from Ivory Coast international Didier Zokora. The offence wasn't punished by a yellow card, unlike Nemanja Vidic's similar challenge on Jermain Defoe just three minutes later.

Ryan Giggs, the match-winner against Spurs in September, started to make his mark on the game towards the 20th minute. He played in Larsson for a shooting chance, only for Michael Dawson to snuff it out with a sliding challenge. From the resulting corner, Carrick's downward header was brilliantly parried by Robinson and Ronaldo wildly struck the loose ball over the bar.

Larsson was involved in the next attack, breaking into the Spurs box where he fell under a clumsy challenge by Anthony Gardner. A penalty seemed certain but referee Mark Clattenburg ignored the appeals from Rooney and others so play controversially continued.

Spurs responded to their lucky escape by putting some pressure back on United. Dimitar Berbatov brought Edwin van der Sar some long-awaited action when he managed to squeeze a shot across goal after being forced wide by Rio Ferdinand. The Dutch keeper sprawled to his left and pawed the ball away from his far post.

Rooney's frustration at the referee's performance spilled over with a foul on Young-Pyo Lee and a costly yellow card – he'll now miss the Reading FA Cup tie through suspension. The United striker had previously been on the receiving end of another unpunished foul, Dawson stepping across him as he charged towards the box.

Not that Spurs had it all their own way as far as the officials were concerned. Neville's grappling with Chimbonda in the United penalty area wasn't spotted and then Chimbonda himself was booked for a foul on Larsson, moments after Ronaldo’s goal.

The breakthrough saw the United winger cut inside Lee but the Spurs left-back might have recovered had his team-mate Steed Malbranque not stepped in with an unhelpful challenge. Ronaldo dropped to the turf and Clattenburg, at last, pointed to the spot. United's top scorer picked himself up and coolly tucked his 15th goal of the season inside Robinson's right-hand post.

Clattenburg still had time for one more booking, and his most inexplicable yet, before blowing for the interval. Larsson was the unlucky recipient after Dawson went down injured, thus completing a first-half hat-trick of United cautions.

The home fans' boos for Ronaldo were even louder when the action resumed - the penalty incident had been shown on the stadium’s big screen. But undeterred as ever, the Portuguese winger raced forward and triggered a passage of play that brought United their deserved second goal.

It started when Ronaldo's ferocious cross-cum-shot was pushed out for a corner by Robinson at the near post. Giggs swung the setpiece in from the right and when Spurs failed to clear, Carrick slipped

the ball to Vidic on the edge of the ‘D’. The Serbian struck a brilliant first-time shot but Robinson superbly tipped it over.

Vidic returned the favour to Carrick at the next corner, flicking the ball on to the far post where the former Spurs star had a second header saved by Robinson.

The third corner in quick succession cracked the Spurs keeper. Again it was Carrick and Vidic linking up, as the midfielder delivered a corner from the left and the defender buried it with a bullet header that left Robinson, on this occasion, rooted.

The build-up for United's third goal was glorious, as Larsson controlled and laid off a long pass to Ronaldo on his right. The winger again sprinted past Lee, crossed low and hard and when the ball slipped past Robinson, Scholes prodded it into the empty net from inside the six-yard box.

The overworked referee had another penalty appeal to consider at the other end when Berbatov stumbled in front of Ferdinand. But the Spurs fans, desperate for a glimmer of hope, were not to be obliged by Mr Clattenburg.

Berbatov was back in the box moments later to receive a fine through-ball from Huddlestone but even though the striker controlled it well, he couldn’t beat van der Sar with the shot. It was an excellent save and an important one for the Dutchman desiring his first clean sheet since the 3-0 win at Villa on 23 December. He produced an even better stop in the 75th minute, palming away a header from the same striker following a great cross by Hossam Ghaly.

Sir Alex took the opportunity to rest his talismen for the last 20 minutes or so, sending on Louis Saha for Rooney and then Ji-sung Park for Ronaldo. Spurs boss Martin Jol had also introduced two subs by then, including Robbie Keane who was booked after catching former Leeds team-mate Rio Ferdinand as he tried to clear.

Saha held off a couple of challenges and threaded the ball through for Giggs to score a fantastic fourth goal. It was Ryan's last action before he was replaced by United's third and final sub John O'Shea. The big Irishman was expecting to see out the last ten minutes in midfield but instead he found himself in goal after van der Sar broke his nose in making a near-post save from Keane.

The buoyant away fans chorused "You'll never beat O'Shea" after big John saved from Keane with his feet. But they might have sung "You'll never beat United" after a fine team performance yielded a sixth win in six visits to this corner of North London.

Team Line-ups

Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Young-Pyo Lee, Dawson, Gardner, Lennon, Huddlestone, Zokora (Ghaly, 56), Malbranque, Defoe (Keane, 56), Berbatov.
Subs not used: Cerny, Murphy, Rocha.

United: Van der Sar, Neville, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Ronaldo (Park, 68 ), Carrick, Scholes, Giggs (O'Shea, 80), Rooney (Saha , 64), Larsson.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Heinze.

Attendance: 36,146

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