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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 21:52 GMT
Beckham brace sinks Spurs
David Beckham puts Manchester United ahead against Tottenham
Beckham gave United the lead after 16 minutes
Manchester United 4-0 Tottenham
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Manchester United leap-frogged Arsenal to go back to the top of the Premiership with a resounding victory.

Two goals each for David Beckham and top-scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy got the Red Devils back on track after two dropped points against Derby at the weekend.

The last time these sides met, they dished up hugely entertaining fare with Spurs taking a 3-0 lead into half-time, only to concede five second-half goals to an irresistible United attack.

Goals were only slightly harder to come by on a blustery evening in Manchester.

  Key incidents
16: Beckham breaks to score a fine opener
42: Taricco is sent off for tugging back Scholes; Van Nistelrooy scores resulting penalty
55: Forlan misses a sitter
64: Beckham scores his second
76: Van Nistelrooy scores the fourth

Tottenham, who fielded Sergei Rebrov in place of Les Ferdinand, actually started the brighter.

Ben Thatcher released Simon Davies on 10 minutes and the Welshman should have done better with his shot.

United, by contrast, looked slightly unbalanced up front.

It was a diabolical decision and it was a couple of yards outside the area
Glenn Hoddle on Manchester United's penalty
Diego Forlan started his full debut tentatively, picking out white shirts instead of red with his passes.

But the home side, driven by a midfield quartet of Beckham, Juan Sebastian Veron, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, still looked dangerous.

Without finding top gear, they took the lead on 16 minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy fed Beckham, who attacked space before striking a crisp shot past Neil Sullivan.

Van Nistelrooy, shackled well by Dean Richards and Ledley King for long periods, had a goal disallowed for offside on the half hour.

But he had to wait only 12 minutes for a change in fortune.

Mauricio Taricco looked to have pulled back Scholes well outside the box, but the referee awarded a penalty and dismissed the Spurs defender.

Van Nistelrooy stepped up to slot home the spot kick.

Spurs should have pulled one back immediately after the interval.

Ferdinand, on for Rebrov, found himself clear on the six-yard line but blasted his shot high.

Meanwhile, chances continued to present themselves at the other end.

The penalty was harsh because apparently it was outside the box and that was unfortunate for Tottenham
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
Forlan was put one-on-one with Sullivan on the hour, but could only skew wide with the goal at his mercy.

He partially made up for the miss moments later, teeing up Beckham for his second goal of the night.

Not to be outdone, Van Nistelrooy doubled his tally in the 76th minute, jinking past two Spurs players to fire past a despondent Sullivan.

On a rare night when Arsenal fans could be forgiven for urging on the whites, their London rivals could not oblige them with a result and Sir Alex Ferguson's champions marched back to the domestic summit.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville (Phil Neville 69), Johnsen, Blanc, Silvestre, Beckham, Keane, Veron (Fortune 72), Scholes (Butt 72), van Nistelrooy, Forlan.
Subs Not Used: Carroll, Giggs.
Booked: Keane.

Tottenham: Sullivan, Taricco, King, Richards, Thatcher, Davies, Poyet (Perry 66), Sherwood, Ziege (Etherington 86), Sheringham, Rebrov (Ferdinand 46).
Subs Not Used: Keller, Gardner.
Sent Off: Taricco (42).
Booked: Poyet, Sherwood, Ziege.

Att: 67,059.

Ref: M Riley (Leeds).

BBC Sport's Charlie Lambert
"Manchester United coasted home"
Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle
"I scratch my head at the penalty"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"I felt Taricco had to go"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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