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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Man Utd edge out Spurs
Van Nistelrooy sends Keller the wrong way from the spot
Van Nistelrooy sends Keller the wrong way from the spot
Manchester United 1-0 Spurs

Ruud van Nistelrooy came to Manchester United's rescue as they made hard work of beating a makeshift Spurs at Old Trafford.

Van Nistelrooy decided an exciting encounter with a second half penalty, but United were thankful to goalkeeper Fabien Barthez for crucial saves as Glenn Hoddle's reshaped team threatened to take away at least a point.

Spurs held their own for long periods, despite being forced to field an under-strength side after Hoddle's squad was ravaged by injuries.

Richards floors Van Nistelrooy
Richards floors Van Nistelrooy

The game exploded into life after a quiet start in the 26th minute when Van Nistelrooy and Dean Richards clashed.

Richards pushed Van Nistelrooy to the floor as play continued upfield, and he was fortunate to escape a red card as referee Rob Styles booked both players.


I was worried about all the missed chances but we got an important win in the end
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Spurs were in defiant mood, but it needed a fine save from Kasey Keller to deny Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after 35 minutes with a one-handed stop from a powerful drive.

Boss Ferguson clearly ordered his players to up the tempo after the interval, but Van Nistelrooy wasted a chance inside 30 seconds of the re-start with a tame finish.

But Spurs were still in the hunt, and Barthez had to race 40 yards from goal to deny Robbie Keane after Rio Ferdinand had blundered.

Beckham congratulates Van Nistelrooy
Beckham congratulates Van Nistelrooy

And as a lively encounter continued, Keller produced another fine save to deny Van Nistelrooy from 10 yards.

But Barthez was not to be upstaged, and he produced a moment of brilliance to keep United on level terms on the hour.

United's rearguard was caught out by Matthew Etherington's cross which found Richards unmarked six yards out, but Barthez blocked crucially with his feet.


I felt we deserved at least a point, especially with 13 players out injured
Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle

It was a reprieve for United - and a moment that turned the game as they took the lead from the spot after 63 minutes.

Gary Doherty had already escaped what looked a clear penalty for fouling Van Nistelrooy, only for the defender to repeat the treatment on Solskjaer.

This time there was no escape as referee Styles pointed to the spot, with a relieved Van Nistelrooy scoring emphatically to give United the points.


Man Utd: Barthez, Phil Neville, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Beckham, Veron (Gary Neville 76), Butt, Giggs (Pugh 85), van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer (Forlan 76).
Subs Not Used: Ricardo, Stewart.

Booked: van Nistelrooy.

Tottenham: Keller, Thatcher, Richards, Doherty, Etherington, Redknapp, Bunjevcevic, Davies, Sheringham (Acimovic 85), Keane, Iversen (Ferdinand 76).
Subs Not Used: Hirschfeld, Ricketts, Henry.

Booked: Richards.

Attendance: 67,611.

Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Mike Ingham
"Man Utd are still not quite themselves"
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"We kept missing chances"
Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle
"It was a very good team performance"
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