The injury of Gareth Bale and the suspension of Pascal Chimbonda—both key players in the first team line-up—severely limited Juande Ramos' options. He found no alternative other than to employ the system he used against Arsenal earlier in the Premier League season.
Ramos placed Teemu Tainio (midfielder) on the right wing and Tom Huddlestone (midfielder) in the centre with Michael Dawson. Lee Young-Pyo was lucky enough to stay in his usual position (left wing).
Tottenham started brightly and scored the first goal after 24 minutes using a combination of Aaron Lennon's standard sprint-and-cross up to Robbie Keane who ran in behind Manchester United goalkeeper, Edwin Van Der Sar to tap the ball into the net.
But Manchester United responded in the 38th minute via a great strike from Carlos Tevez. There was too much fumbling from the Spurs' defense. Dawson mistimed his clearance header and Tevez took advantage of that.
Cristiano Ronaldo was very much subdued throughout the first half by the gallant defending efforts of Jamie O'Hara.
By the time the second half was underway, the Spurs were doing surprisingly well against Manchester United’s major players, considering the fact that the Spurs had two midfielders in defense.
Lee Young-Pyo was substituted for newly signed left winger Chris Gunter, who made his Spurs debut in this very match.
It was in the 67th minute that the match took a very wrong turn for the Spurs.
Michael Dawson’s deliberate handball cost the Spurs a goal and a player; Dawson was immediately sent off. Cristiano Ronaldo calmly took the penalty and scored, bringing the match to 2-1.
But then desperation for a goal took over the Spurs squad. Needs became musts as Jermaine Defoe came on to replace Tainio and Kevin Prince Boateng came on for Aaron Lennon. The three attackers’ collaboration almost worked out when Malbranque made a pin-point cross to Berbatov who just couldn't finish the attack.
The ball hit the post and on close inspection of a replay it appeared that Manchester United defender, Wes Brown, touched the ball and not Berbatov.
From then on, no matter how hard the Spurs pushed for a goal, they still could not manage to succeed.
The final nail in the Spurs' FA cup coffin came when Ronaldo struck a shot into the net after it spun and rolled out from under Cerny's torso. A painful end to an unlucky match.
Manchester United now faces Arsenal at Old Trafford in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
The Spurs still have two chances at silverware. They face Slavia Prague in the UEFA Cup (Last 32; 14th and 21st February (2 legs)) and Chelsea in the Carling Cup (Final; 24th February).