Spurs stun Man Utd to kick-start Postecoglou era

AFP , Saturday 19 Aug 2023

Tottenham earned their first Premier League win of the Ange Postecoglou era as Pape Sarr inspired an impressive 2-0 victory against Manchester United on Saturday.

Tottenham Hotspur's Spanish defender #23 Pedro Porro congratulates Tottenham Hotspur's Senegalese midfielder #29 Pape Matar Sarr after he scored the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on August 19, 2023. Photo: AFP


Postecoglou's first home game as Tottenham manager served as the perfect introduction for the Australian, whose side played with the kind of flair sorely lacking from the north Londoners in recent years.

Senegal midfielder Sarr opened the scoring early in the second half with his first goal for Tottenham since signing from Metz in 2021.

Lisandro Martinez's late own goal capped a dynamic Tottenham display that sealed Postecoglou's first victory in his second game in charge.

After a draw at Brentford last weekend, Postecoglou will hope this eye-catching result against sloppy United can kick-start his reign.

Following Antonio Conte, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho's drab spells in charge, this was more like the 'glory game' that Spurs fans regard as their birthright.

But while Postecoglou earned plaudits for his success and attacking football in two seasons with Scottish champions Celtic, achieving similar feats with star-crossed Tottenham will be far harder.

Pre-match fan protests outside the stadium over an increase in matchday ticket prices underlined the simmering discontent among a fanbase frustrated by years of underachievement.

Postecoglou has already had to deal with Harry Kane's departure to German champions Bayern Munich, while also trying to erase the bitter taste of last season's turbulent campaign.

Kane's goal-scoring Bundesliga debut on Friday only served to underline the void left by Tottenham's record scorer, but Postecoglou's first game in north London offered hope of life after the England striker.

In contrast to the sudden optimism around Tottenham, it has been a worrying start to the season for United manager Erik ten Hag.

United were unchanged from Monday's scrappy 1-0 win over Wolves, although it was notable that Harry Maguire was absent from the squad following his decision to reject a move to West Ham this week.

Fortunate to beat Wolves in their opener, United weren't so lucky this time as they paid the price for poor first-half finishing and a strangely lethargic second-half performance.

Stylish Spurs

Spurs' tannoy announcer loudly declared "The Tottenham way is back" before kick-off and Postecoglou's men lived up to the hype after a nervous start.

They nearly gifted United an early goal when Pedro Porro surrendered possession outside his own area and Alejandro Garnacho teed up Antony, who fired over from long range.

Marcus Rashford drew a smart stop from Tottenham keeper Guglielmo Vicario after linking up with Antony to carve open the hosts' defence.

Postecoglou's side finally hit their stride when Dejan Kulusevski drove into the United area for a curling effort saved by Andre Onana.

United appealed in vain for a penalty after Garnacho's shot hit Cristian Romero's outstretched arm.

Bruno Fernandes was guilty of a shocking miss when the unmarked United midfielder headed woefully over from Luke Shaw's cross.

And Porro nearly made Fernandes pay as he lashed a fierce strike against the bar before Sarr's cross hit Shaw and deflected onto the post moments later.

Tottenham had seized the initiative and they took the lead four minutes after half-time.

Kulusevski was released down the right by Porro and his deflected cross looped off Martinez towards Sarr, who guided a clinical volley past Onana from six yards.

United were inches away from an instant equaliser, with Antony curling against a post from Fernandes's pass.

But Vicario preserved Tottenham's lead with a superb save from Casemiro's header after Fernandes's free-kick picked out the Brazilian.

Playing with verve and imagination, Tottenham were rampant and Yves Bissouma fired just wide from distance.

On a perfect day for Postecoglou, even his substitutes worked to perfection.

After sending on Ben Davies and Ivan Perisic, Postecoglou watched in delight when Perisic's 83rd minute pass reached Davies, whose scuffed shot deflected in off Martinez.

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