By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Old Trafford
Darron Gibson stated an eloquent case for Manchester United's young brigade by scoring twice to send the holders into the Carling Cup semi-final at the expense of Spurs at Old Trafford.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had reacted angrily to criticism levelled at his emerging stars after the defeat against Besiktas that ended their 23-game unbeaten home record in the Champions League.
Ferguson launched a passionate defence of his home-grown products and gave them another chance to impress against Spurs - and 22-year-old Gibson was the star of the show as United saw off Harry Redknapp's side in a repeat of last season's Wembley final.
Gibson opened the scoring with an early long-range finish, then produced an even more spectacular effort just before half-time to put United into the last four on a rain-sodden Old Trafford night.
Spurs' challenge fizzled out after a bright start, with United defender Nemanja Vidic providing experience and a formidable barrier on the rare occasions when the Londoners did threaten.
Jermain Defoe and David Bentley tested Tomasz Kuszczak, again preferred to England keeper Ben Foster in goal, but Spurs went down tamely once United had established a two-goal cushion at the interval.
United's reshaped side almost took the lead inside two minutes when Anderson's shot fizzed narrowly wide with Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes well beaten.
Spurs produced a lively response, with Defoe forcing Kuszczak into a save from the edge of the area, but it was United who made the breakthrough after 16 minutes.
Anderson won possession on the left flank and set up Gibson with an inviting pass which the midfield man drilled low beyond Gomes into the bottom corner.
Another United youngster, Ritchie de Laet, made a crucial contribution as Spurs swiftly attempted to restore parity, making a vital block when it seemed certain Defoe would equalise.
The importance of that interception was underlined when Gibson demonstrated his quality again to double United's lead seven minutes before the interval.
The Irishman was involved in a slick exchange with Danny Welbeck before curling a precise 20-yard finish high and out of the reach of the despairing Gomes.
And Spurs, who actually had the better of the exchanges in the first 20 minutes, almost conceded a third on the stroke of half-time when the promising Gabriel Obertan rolled the perfect cross into the path of Dimitar Berbatov, but the former Spurs striker did not react quickly enough and the opportunity was wasted.
Spurs boss Redknapp made a change at half-time, sending on Tom Huddlestone for the subdued Wilson Palacios.
And they were almost back in the game after 57 minutes when Gareth Bale set up Bentley, but his shot was too close to Kuszczak and he parried the effort to safety.
Bentley then arrived at the far post to get on the end of another Bale cross, but he could only direct his header into the side-netting.
United boss Ferguson then made a double change, sending on Michael Carrick and Federico Macheda for Obertan and Berbatov, while Spurs counterpart Redknapp responded by replacing the disappointing Keane with Peter Crouch.
It was too late to make any difference as United survived without any anxious moments to move a step closer to another Wembley appearance.
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