Manchester United all but cemented their second place finish this season with an excellent come-from-behind performance to beat Tottenham 3-1 in north London.
The Reds started slowly but burst into life after a brilliant assist from Paul Pogba found Edinson Cavani who slotted past Hugo Lloris, only for the goal to be ruled out when VAR noticed that Scott McTominay stroked the cheek of Heung-Min Son in the build-up and deemed it a foul.
The South Korean international made matters worse for United as he was able to get on the end of a Lucas Moura pass to tap into an empty net and give Spurs a 1-0 lead going into half-time.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side came out strong in the second half though and turned in the best performance of their season so far to turn the game on its head. A fine one-touch pass and move goal saw Cavani have a shot saved before Fred smashed home the rebound to equalise.
A lovely nutmeg from Bruno Fernandes then found substitute Mason Greenwood, who whipped a delicious cross into Cavani who scored a fine diving header for the lead and goal his performance deserved. Paul Pogba then capped a fine individual performance with a mazy run before finding Greenwood, who beat Sergio Reguilon before rifling past Lloris at the near post in added time to seal the three points.
It was the type of performance that United fans have been waiting for this season against the top sides. They had an intent about their play throughout and while the first 30 minutes were a bit slow, it can be accepted because of their trip to Europe in midweek.
Spurs never created any real opportunities in the first half bar a few snap shots that tried to catch Henderson out at the near post, and in the second half they created even less. Even their goal came as United tried to refocus after the absolute joke of a decision to rule out what was a perfectly good opener just five minutes before.
The win showed that Solskjaer’s side do have the quality and personnel to go toe-to-toe with the better teams in the league. Earlier in the season they were (rightly) criticised for their approach against the top sides, lining up in a really defensive shape with no intention of winning – just not losing.
They earned a win over Liverpool in the FA Cup third round which showed they should have approached the league game a few days prior to that in a different way, then they were able to end Manchester City’s unbelievable 22 game win-streak in March with a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.
That set the tone but they were still counter attacking performances where the attackers were clinical. This was a more complete performance, where they dominated the ball, created chances throughout the game, played quickly and didn’t give up any chances of significance to the opposition.
While still not completely convinced on Solskjaer’s abilities as manager in the long term, you can’t dispute the job he is doing at the moment. He is in charge of the best Manchester United team in the post-Ferguson era and has developed a unity and togetherness in the squad we haven’t seen since the legendary Scot.
His signings are performing well for the most part and while a style still isn’t really present and obvious, the fact United have lost just once in 24 league games shows that they’re obviously doing something right.
It’s fair to say that while Solskjaer has found a winning recipe, he now needs a few finishing touches on the squad with key positions to really get them challenging. What he has now though, is capable of competing and going toe to toe rather than looking to counter and hope.