10 Epic Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur Clashes

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentDecember 30, 2013

10 Epic Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur Clashes

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    Manchester United host Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day in a matchup that has produced blockbuster entertainment throughout history.

    Here are the 10 most epic Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur clashes.

    No list is ever exhaustive, so don't hesitate to comment below with your own examples.


10. Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United (1998)

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer swung the momentum in Manchester United's way as he scored twice in seven minutes.

    But when referee Uriah Rennie sent Gary Neville off [1], it allowed Tottenham Hotspur back in the game, as per Nick Townsend at The Independent: "When Gary, having already received a yellow card for a two-footed lunge at Allan Nielsen, then appeared to pull back Ginola by the shirt, his fate was inevitable."

    Sol Campbell scored two headers in the second half, including one in stoppage time (United style).

    United manager Sir Alex Ferguson lost the plot, as per When Saturday Comes:

    Man Utd go to the top of the Premier League but are denied a victory at White Hart Lane by Sol Campbell's late equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

    After seeing six of his players booked and Gary Neville sent off in the first half, Alex Ferguson tangles with the fourth official on the touchline, refuses to shake hands with George Graham, locks himself in the dressing-room and then leaves without attending the mandatory after-match press conference.

    He was a bit upset, apparently.


    [1] Writing in The Daily MailNeville expressed his regret at harassing referees during his playing days. However he named Rennie along with Graham Poll and Jeff Winter as referees "who considered themselves the stars of the show."

9. Manchester United 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur U-21s (2013)

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    It is not just in the senior team—even Manchester United's youth sides find a way to come back from adversity. 

    Adam Marshall at ManUtd.com detailed how Tottenham Hotspur could have been up by more goals after scoring twice against United in the first-half of the 2013 Barclays Under-21 Premier League final:

    Spurs led 2-0 at the break through Jonathan Obika and Alex Pritchard and looked well on course to lift the trophy...Obika, who scored a hat-trick against the Reds earlier in the campaign, grazed the bar following a dangerous cross by Harry Kane...Kane hit a post with a ferocious attempt.

    Manchester United then rallied in the second half to win 3-2, with a well-taken goal from Marnick Vermijl and a brace by Larnell Cole, whose winning goal came in the 88th minute. 

    Adnan Januzaj was involved in the build-up play for both of Cole's goals. 


8. Manchester United 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur [4-1 PSO] (2009)

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    Manchester United came out on top in the 2009 Carling Cup final, and Tottenham Hotspur once again suffered as they failed to keep their cool from 12 yards out in the 4-1 penalty shoot-out defeat.

    United 1-0 Spurs PSO: Ryan Giggs drove the ball aiming for the bottom right corner and it ricocheted into the back of the net off the post.

    United 1-0 Spurs PSO: Spurs midfielder Jamie O'Hara curled the ball to the right side but United goalkeeper Ben Foster made a superb save.

    United 2-0 Spurs PSO: Carlos Tevez clinically placed the in the bottom right corner of the goal.

    United 2-1 Spurs PSO: Vedran Corluka powerfully dispatched the ball past Foster.

    United 3-1 Spurs PSO: Cristiano Ronaldo stuttered at the top of his run-up to see if Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes would make the first move. He stands his ground. Ronaldo followed through and placed the ball middle-right while Gomes dived to the left.

    United 3-1 Spurs PSO: David Bentley hit the ball to the left and it narrowly missed the post.

    United 4-1 Spurs PSO: Anderson curled the ball to left as Gomes dived to the right.


7. Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur (2012)

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    This game was seen as the turning point in then-Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas' tenure in England.

    He had achieved what no Spurs manager had done since 1989: beat Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United at Old Trafford.

    Jonny Evans netted an own goal when he attempted to block Gareth Bale's awkward right-footed shot.

    Later in the first half, Bale sliced United's defence open as Rio Ferdinand watched the Welshman burst to the right side and finish calmly with his right foot.

    Ferdinand probably expected Bale to cut in and shoot with his preferred left.

    Nani, Clint Dempsey and Shinji Kagawa all scored within a three-minute time span, but it stayed 3-2 to Spurs.

    A season later, Villas-Boas is wondering where his next coaching gig will be. It might not be in England.

    "This is a time of reflection for me and my staff and for re-positioning of our careers," he said, as per O Jogo (h/t The Guardian). "Nevertheless England was a great experience."

6. Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (2009)

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    Darren Bent and Luka Modric scored during a three-minute interval as Tottenham Hotspur led Manchester United 2-0 after the first-half.

    The turning point of the game was referee Howard Webb awarding United a penalty believing Heurelho Gomes had impeded Michael Carrick.

    In reality, Gomes won the ball first and the momentum took Carrick out—referee Webb should have waved play on.

    "He is supposed to be our best ref," then-Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said, as per Emily Benammar at The Telegraph. "But if he's the best, I'd hate to see the worst."

    Cristiano Ronaldo converted the spot-kick.

    Then Wayne Rooney scored to make it 2-2.

    A minute later, he crossed for Ronaldo to head home.

    Rooney then made it 4-2 as Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate failed to clear the ball off the line.

    Ex-Spurs Dimitar Berbatov poached a fifth and then-United manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid tribute to the elegant forward after the game, as per MUTV (h/t Goal.com):

    I don't think he gave the ball away once, throughout the entire game. I thought he was our best player in the first half and then in the second he produced some wonderful moments. He produces moments that make you sit back and say: "that's world-class". The pass he gave Ronaldo in the second half was unbelievable.


5. Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Manchester United

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    Jimmy Greaves, who scored 30 goals or more in three of his four seasons at Chelsea, replicated his machine-like goal scoring for Tottenham Hotspur (268 goals in 381 games).

    The solo goal he scored in a 5-1 win over Manchester United in 1965 is one for the ages (United would win the European Cup in 1968).

    He had outshone United's holy trinity of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton (who did score an outrageous long-range consolation goal against Spurs).

    A year later, Greaves hit rock-bottom as he watched England win the 1966 FIFA World Cup, as per George Best's book Hard Tackles and Dirty Baths: The Inside Story of Football's Golden Era:

    One man, though, found it hard to join in the celebrations and I don't think anyone should blame him: Jimmy Greaves. His expression exposed his bitterness even at the very moment England succeeded...Greaves was a genius, and as a fellow professional who has suffered the lows as well as the highs, I know precisely how he was feeling. But while it was an all-time low for Greaves, it was an all-time high for his replacement. Every fact of Geoff Hurst's life and career has been written about since that day.



4. Manchester United 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (1967)

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    It was the 1967 FA Charity Shield, a game that had Bobby Charlton (two goals) and Denis Law as Manchester United’s goalscorers, while Jimmy Robertson and Frank Saul were Tottenham Hotspur' scorers.

    Oh, and don't forget about Spurs No. 1 Pat Jennings.

    Jennings' teammate Jimmy Greaves re-lived the memory, as per his book Football's Great Heroes and Entertainers:

    My abiding memory of him is of Jennings the goal-scorer. Tottenham were playing Manchester United in the Charity Shield at Old Trafford in the summer of 1967.

    Alan Gilzean and I were upfield facing the United goal when suddenly we saw the ball going first bounce over the head of goalkeeper Alex Stepney and into the net.

    We looked back to see big Pat doing a jig on the edge of the penalty area. He had drop-kicked the wind-assisted goal a distance of 120 yards.

    With the new season about to start, I said to Gilzean, "You realise, Gilly, that this makes Pat our top-scorer."

3. Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (1999)

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    Manchester United won their fifth Premier League title upon beating Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the 1998-99 season.

    Les Ferdinand chipped Peter Schmeichel, who was playing his final game for United, to give Spurs the lead.

    United responded with Paul Scholes playing a through-ball to David Beckham on the right flank, who curled the ball past Spurs keeper Ian Walker.

    Remember how Ferdinand had opened proceedings with a delicate chip?

    Well, Andy Cole went one better and lobbed Walker inside the box, as United not only secured the title but the treble.

    "When they won the treble, they seemed to have somebody upstairs who decided to give them all three," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, as per David Manson's book Quotations from the Public Comments of Arsene Wenger.

    In the book Life with Sir Alex: A Fan's Story of Ferguson's 25 Years at Manchester United, Will Tidey recounted the intensely distressing finish:

    And for the last 20 minutes we watched on in agony as Tottenham created the occasional chance and United nervously defended their lead.

    Finally, what seemed like decades later, the referee blew his whistle and Ferguson was heard by half of Old Trafford screaming with joy on the touchline.

    Beckham and Scholes dropped to their knees in the centre circle, and 55,000 inside Old Trafford set about getting the party started with a rendition of Queen's '"We are The Champions".

2. Manchester United 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (1986)

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    When Manchester United drew 3-3 with Tottenham Hotspur in 1986 is still cited as one of the most entertaining games between the two clubs, as per Henry Winter at The Telegraph:

    The speed was breathtaking, the physicality bordering on the ruthless and the entertainment was endless. At a time when the sport was in crisis over hooliganism and many fans were staying away, United and Spurs put on a blockbuster of a show.

    One moment Peter Davenport was playing the poacher from the tightest of angles, the next Chris Waddle was dribbling past red shirts for fun. One moment, there was a rampaging run from Kevin Moran and the next there was a diving header from Gary Mabbutt. Some filthy challenges went in.

    A well-worked free-kick led to Norman Whiteside opening the scoring for Manchester United while Peter Davenport scored a brace. Kevin Moran, who missed a one-on-one, after being put through on goal by Davenport, scored an own goal.

    Mabbut, a Spurs stalwart, and Clive Allen, who went on to score 49 goals that season, ensured Spurs competed. 

    This United side under Sir Alex Ferguson was filled with internal problems, specifically of an alcoholic nature, as per Paul McGrath's autobiography:

    "That's it," he [Ferguson] barked. "You've been on it [alcohol] all afternoon. I said you could have a drink, but I didn't expect you to do that." He read us the riot act, ordering everyone to be in their rooms by seven.

    Seven o'clock came and went. Eight o'clock. No movement. Then a lot of lads went out, down to a local nightclub and stayed there till about four in the morning.

    For some reason, I didn't go.

    But Alex got wind of it.

    Next thing, he turns up in the club, marches the lads out and makes them walk all the way back to the hotel, maybe a mile and a half at four in the morning.

    There were a few of the more senior players among the culprits.

    All along the way, he kept saying to them, "[EXPLETIVE], ye're supposed to be the backbone of this team. The ones to lead. And look at ye..."

1. Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Manchester United (2001)

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    Tottenham Hotspur scored three times against Manchester United in the first half with goals from the late Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege. 

    "Their five-man midfield dominated United's quartet and Ferdinand and Sheringham were a constant threat in attack," BBC Sports noted of Glenn Hoddle's Spurs during the opening 45 minutes. 

    By the end of the game, Hoddle was philosophical, having watched his side epically collapse, losing the second half 5-0 as the game finished 3-5 to United. 

    First it was Andy Cole. Then it was Laurent Blanc. Ruud van Nistelrooy made it 3-3. Juan Sebastian Veron put United in front and David Beckham finished the game off with a lovely in-step drive.  

    "Gawd help the rest of us if they [United] start keeping clean sheets," Hoddle said, as per Steve Wilson at The Telegraph. "What went wrong? Half-time."

    Speaking of half-time, Sir Alex Ferguson must have given the Untied players the hairdryer treatment, right?

    Wrong, as per Ferguson's autobiography:

    As they [United players] traipsed into the dressing room, three goals down, the players were braced for a rollicking. 

    Instead I sat down and said: "Right, I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to score the first goal in the second half and see where it takes us." 

    Teddy Sheringham was the Tottenham captain and, as the teams emerged back into the corridor, I saw Teddy stop and say: "Now don't let them get an early goal."

    I'll always remember that. We scored in the first minute. 

    Teddy's warning to the Tottenham team that day reflected our success in frightening opponents with well-timed retaliatory goals.


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