LONDON: Bruno Fernandes’s penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw for Manchester United at Tottenham as the Red Devils had another late spot-kick overturned by a VAR review on Friday. Jose Mourinho was on course to get the better of his former club when Steven Bergwijn’s strike gave Spurs a half-time lead.
However, United’s second half pressure finally told nine minutes from time when Fernandes converted from the spot after Paul Pogba had been brought down in the box.
Fernandes then thought he had won a second penalty, but a VAR review decided there was little contact as he went down under a challenge from Eric Dier. A point does little for either side’s chances of breaking into the top four.
United remain in fifth, two points behind Chelsea, while Spurs are four points further back in eighth. In keeping with all matches since the Premier League’s return earlier this week, all players and officials took a knee before kick in protest against racial injustice.
Once the action did get underway, United settled quickest to the eery surroundings of a 62,000 seater stadium draped in banners with the only fans appearing on giant video screens behind each goal.
Marcus Rashford has had a momentous week as the English international’s campaign to ensure vulnerable children are not left without food vouchers during the English school holidays forced a government U-turn.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described the 22-year-old’s action as far “more important than any game of football that he would probably play.” However, the England international admitted he was also desperate to get back to the day job after being sidelined since January with a back injury prior to the coronavirus-enforced shutdown of football for three months.
Rashford had the best chance to turn the visitors’ early control into a goal as his low shot was beaten away by the legs of Hugo Lloris. Tottenham could be the Premier League side with most to gain from a three-month stoppage.
Prior to lockdown, Mourinho spoke of his desire to fast forward to the end of the season when he would have Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Bergwijn fit again. All four were fit to return to the starting line-up and it was a inspired moment from the Dutchman which opened the scoring.
Bergwijn surged past the leaden-footed Harry Maguire before David de Gea could only parry his powerful shot into the roof of the net. De Gea made amends moments later with a stunning save to prevent Son’s looping header from Bergwijn’s cross doubling Tottenham’s lead.
However, that was the last time the Spaniard was troubled as Tottenham sat on their lead after the break and invited plenty of United pressure. The arrival of Fernandes in January played a huge part in an 11-game unbeaten run for Solskjaer’s men before the break.
Fernandes was inches away from an equaliser as his low drive fizzed just wide. Lloris then produced a stunning save to tip Anthony Martial’s rising effort over. Solskjaer had left Pogba on the bench from the start, but the Frenchman made a big impact after being introduced for his first appearance since December 26. Pogba’s quick feet left Eric Dier in his wake and Dier then pushed the midfielder over inside the box as he tried to recover.
Fernandes coolly sent Lloris the wrong way from the penalty spot to deservedly level. And United thought they had the chance to win the game when Jon Moss pointed to the spot again in stoppage time.
Rashford was set to take the penalty this time, but was denied the chance to round off his momentous week as VAR overruled the referee’s original decision and United had to settle for a point. —AFP