A Dive And A Thrashing
White Hart Lane
A wrong penalty decision and a great second half showing resulted in a 4-0 victory for United at White Hart Lane to go six points clear again.
In fact, it's seven points: with a goal difference of +43 we are massively superior to Chelsea. So they need at least three games to catch us.
The match itself was very even in the first half. Spurs started strongly but United had few difficulties and easily weathered this early storm. They grew in stature as the minutes went on but neither side really threatened to score. Berbatov had a chance near Ferdinand but van der Sar parried his effort whilst Ronaldo fired over the bar from close range after Robinson denied Carrick.
United had a decent penalty claim turned down when Gardner brought down Larsson in the box but just before the end of the half, Clattenburg gave it back: Ronaldo broke into the box then dived into Malbranque's challenge. It looked like a penalty but replays showed there was no contact whatsoever. Ronaldo was undisturbed and scored with a powerful penalty kick.
I was slightly uncomfortable about the fact taht we had seized the lead in such circumstances in a very difficult game but this evaporated at the beginning of the second half. Spurs fans will feel hard done and rightly so but in the opening minutes of the second period, United absolutely battered the hosts and deservedly scored two goals in quick succession thus destroying any lingering doubts about which team is the better on the afternoon.
Vidic's powerful header and Scholes' ridicoulus goal killed off the game and had Rooney's curling effort gone in the visitors could have lost by an even greater margin than the 4 goals they would eventually concede.
To their credit, Spurs tried to fight back and they were helped by the casualness of a relaxed visiting team. Berbatov had three good chances to score but failed to do so and the humiliation was complete when Saha's delightful pass released Giggs who calmly finished the move.
I was frigthened to see Robbie 'Stephen Hunt' Keane's knee hitting Edwin's head but fortunately, our great Dutchman only had his nose broken. His replacement John O'Shea performed admirably in goal: he made a superb sliding tackle when Berbatov latched onto Ferdinand's terrible backpass - Rooney was laughing on the bench...
All in all, it was a delightful afternoon, marred only by Ronaldo's dive but I don't think anyone would say we did not deserve to win. And of course I have been exposed as a hopeless pessimist - feel free to blast me for my pre-match comments, I'll happily take it!
Van der Sar 7
Gary Neville 7