Martial’s late winner keep Manchester United in second place in the Premier League
Anthony Martial’s late winner kept Manchester United in second place in the Premier League as they edged out Spurs in a hard-fought encounter at Old Trafford.
Martial’s introduction for Marcus Rashford after 70 minutes was not well received by some Manchester United supporters – but manager Jose Mourinho’s move proved to be a masterstroke as the French striker raced on to Romelu Lukaku’s header to beat Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris with only nine minutes left.
It was a narrow victory United just about deserved after creating the better chances in the second half, Lukaku producing an outstanding save from Lloris and hitting the woodwork with a header.
Spurs missed the goalscoring threat and presence of the injured Harry Kane, creating little other than a chance which Dele Alli steered just wide from Christian Eriksen’s cross with the game still goalless.
In the end, Mourinho’s change and Martial’s penalty box finish made the difference as United recovered from last week’s surprise loss at Huddersfield Town.
When Mourinho removed Rashford and sent on Martial with 20 minutes left, sections of Old Trafford signalled – and indeed gestured – their disapproval at the move.
It was actually the catalyst for United’s match-winning surge as they finally pierced the defensive barrier erected by Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Romelu Lukaku, who had endured a frustrating afternoon, burst into life with a run and shot that was brilliantly saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris then had a header that bounced to safety off the post.
United built momentum after Mourinho’s change and it was Lukaku who rose to send a header into Martial’s path for a finish that was not clean but good enough.
Mourinho had criticism to contend with for his approach to the goalless draw at Liverpool a fortnight ago – but here he made the tactical tweak that proved decisive.