Manchester United travelled to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur this evening, with the Reds keen to solidify their top four ambitions at the expense of a direct rival.
United came on the back of a superb win against Brighton at Wembley. Tottenham on the other hand were looking to bounce back from a devastating 6-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle just a few days prior.
Erik ten Hag fielded a relatively similar starting XI to the one he did against the Seagulls, with the only change being the introduction of Jadon Sancho for Anthony Martial.
Sancho started on the left side of attack, with Marcus Rashford leading the line.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
Sensational first-half performance
Ten Hag’s men were by far the better side against their North London rivals.
United went into the break two goals up, courtesy of Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. Sancho broke the deadlock with a brilliant goal when he received a pass from Rashford inside the Tottenham box.
Sancho took a few touches to create space for himself before curling the ball into the bottom right corner, beyond Forster’s reach.
Minutes before the interval, United won the ball inside their own half. Bruno Fernandes lifted it up superbly to a sprinting Rashford.
Rashford shifted it to his weaker left foot and fired a ferocious shot that frankly, Forster had no chance of keeping out.
United controlled the game for large segments of the opening 45 minutes and should have arguably been a few more goals up.
Defensively, the Red Devils were solid at the back and had an answer for each of Tottenham’s attacking ventures. No doubt Ten Hag would have been pleased with his team’s showing in the first period.
Seeing games through is a challenge for United
In a number of games this season, United have only preserved good performances for one half of football. The Reds have struggled to produce complete displays for all 90 minutes of play.
The same was evident again at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
After an incredible first half, United were mostly lethargic and below par in the second. The Lily Whites steadily grew into the game, largely because United gave them an avenue back into proceedings.
Tottenham threatened United’s goal more and created a high volume of clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. Pedro Porro cut United’s lead in half in the 56th minute when he thundered the ball into the top-right corner.
Son Heung-min got on the end of a cross from Harry Kane to level the score with 11 minutes left on the clock.
United’s lack of control across the full length of games is something Ten Hag pinpointed as a massive problem during his presser.
The United boss said, “In some games, it was the case. But in many other games, we were composed and we managed the game and we won the game.”
“But it is just be composed and just be calm, carry on and play your game. Stick to the plan, stick together and it’s about issues like this.”
United cannot afford to continue with this trend as the battle for Champions League places rages on. It’s something that must be worked on in the training ground.
Top four still not secure
United throwing away a two-goal lead means that the 20-time English champions are still firmly embroiled in a battle to finish within the top four.
United’s situation is not helped by the fact that Newcastle convincingly beat Everton at Goodison Park. United are now six points clear of Tottenham with two games in hand.
Newcastle sit in third, two points above the Red Devils. United have a game in hand on the Magpies. Aston Villa is next up for United and there is simply no room for mistakes with Unai Emery’s side also pushing for a finish that guarantees European football next season.