English Premier League

Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham came back from behind twice in a pulsating Premier League encounter to deny Manchester United a victory in front of new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe, attending his first game since a proposed 25% purchase of his boyhood club was confirmed on Christmas Eve, said beforehand that he was “very excited” to be there.

And he saw Rasmus Hojlund drive United into a third-minute lead.

But Ratcliffe’s pre-match assertion that United “normally do well against Spurs” wasn’t quite borne out here.

Brazilian striker Richarlison levelled with his sixth goal in as many Premier League games for the visitors, who were without three players, including captain Son Heung-min – away with South Korea at the Asian Cup.

Marcus Rashford put the hosts ahead before the break, but Rodrigo Bentancur wiped out the advantage a minute after the restart with a blistering shot, his first goal since April, during which time he has recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury and an ankle problem.

The rest of the game would have been an education for Ratcliffe, who sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box. United had less than 40% possession, nine shots against Tottenham’s 16 and only a third of the visitors’ six on target.

A draw was not enough to take Tottenham above rivals Arsenal and into the top four. But it did allow them to maintain an eight-point advantage over their hosts, who could drop to 10th before they are next in action against Wolves on 1 February.

Prior to this game, Hojlund and Rashford had only scored four Premier League goals between them this season. Ratcliffe was privileged indeed, therefore, to see both get on the scoresheet in his first 45 minutes as a returning ‘fan’. That the pair also had a significant involvement in the other’s goal just added to the sense of occasion.

It was only in United’s last home game, against Aston Villa on 26 December, that Hojlund broke his duck with a memorable late winner.

His latest effort smacked of someone who is having a surge of confidence. Hojlund wasted little time in blasting a shot high into the Tottenham goal after Destiny Udogie had stepped in to halt Rashford’s charge across the penalty area.

Rashford has achieved so much that confidence should not be an issue. But he has been a shadow of the player who broke the 30-goal mark for the first time last season. There was an element of being unsure of himself when he delayed getting a shot away having found himself in the perfect position just before half-time. By then, though he had already found the net once.

Bruno Fernandes was a significant factor, spraying a superb pass out to the England forward. But it was Hojlund who then provided the perfect return pass, which Tottenham’s defenders were too slow to react to as Rashford sent his shot into the bottom corner.

Midway through the second half, manager Erik ten Hag had an extended chat with Rashford during a break in play. It seemed more tactical than an assessment of the forward’s latest wasted opportunity as Pedro Porro matched him for speed during a rapid chase into the Tottenham area before the full-back outwitted his opponent as he tried to check onto his right foot.

When Rashford was eventually replaced by Antony three minutes from time, he did not seem happy, chuntering to himself as he took his seat.

Tottenham fans’ favourite Betancur had an eventful day as he works his way back from the ankle injury that followed a month after his recovery from cruciate surgery.

The Uruguayan had an early effort cleared off the line by Dalot and then earned himself a caution in ridiculous fashion as he kicked the ball away after a flag had gone up for an offside, ludicrously arguing he was giving the ball back to United when he had, in fact, sent it yards away from where it needed to be.

His first goal since the day he suffered his injury was an excellent effort. Debutant Timo Werner provided the pass – a collectors’ item given he only managed one assist in 21 league appearances during his final season at Chelsea – and after that, Bentancur steadied himself before belting a drive past Africa Cup of Nations-bound Andre Onana at his near post.

A draw was the least Tottenham deserved, as £25m new arrival Radu Dragusin made his debut as a late substitute, although they will hope the injury that forced off Micky van de Ven near the end is nothing more than fatigue related given the Dutchman was returning after a two-month absence with a hamstring injury.

source – BBC

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