~CuCuK AnGiN~


Tottenham 0 United 0

United were unable to secure the perfect send-off to Japan for the Club World Cup after being held to a goalless draw by Spurs at a soggy White Hart Lane.

The champions were strangely out-of-sorts for much of the game and were uncharacteristically sloppy in possession in a scrappy first half.

The game improved as a spectacle as the game wore on but the Reds found Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes in inspired form and missed out on the chance to close the gap on Liverpool at the top.

United would have been spurred on before kick-off by news of the leaders’ home draw with Hull, and a stronger-than-anticipated line-up took to the field at White Hart Lane.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s pre-match injury fears did not materialise as Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov all started, the latter two against their former club.

Berbatov was booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball and struggled to impose himself on the game, although his link-up play often threatened to open Spurs up.

Ji-sung Park, making his 100th United appearance, had an early shot which took a deflection and looped just over his former PSV team-mate Gomes’ bar.

David Bentley then tried his luck with a left-footed volley from 25 yards, but Edwin van der Sar was alert to parry the effort.

But the home side’s depleted defence contained United well for the majority of the first half. On a lush playing surface the champions sprayed the ball around but failed to break down Spurs' cagey 4-5-1 formation and seriously test Gomes.

Indeed, it was Spurs who had the best chance on the half-hour mark as Aaron Lennon darted infield and his shot from 18 yards forced van der Sar into a superb save low down to his right.

Carlos Tevez looked determined to take advantage of a starting berth in place of the suspended Wayne Rooney, and one scampering run down the left saw the striker beat three men before firing narrowly over from an acute angle.

Seven minutes before the break Luka Modric escaped Ferdinand in the box but headed Didier Zokora’s cross wide when well placed.

At the other end neat interplay involving Tevez and Ronaldo opened Spurs up, but Gomes did well to cut out the latter’s cross from the left of the box.

Berbatov exploded into life in one second-half moment as he evaded his marker in the centre circle, charged down on goal, only to be denied by a last-ditch Michael Dawson tackle.

Ronaldo blasted the ball home from Park’s resultant corner but referee Mike Dean ruled the winger had initially controlled the ball with his hand. On this occasion it was definitely accidental.

at Gomes.

Rafael picked up United’s first booking for bringing down Lennon and, from the free-kick, van der Sar was forced to scramble across goal to tip over Bentley’s effort.

Ferguson, back on the touchline following his two-game ban, made a double substitution with 20 minutes left in a bid to inject life into a game that was ebbing away. Off came Tevez and Darren Fletcher, to be replaced by veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

The move almost paid instant dividends as Nemanja Vidic got a firm header to Giggs’ whipped-in cross from the left, but Gomes held on well.

With 15 minutes left Ferdinand had a great chance to break the deadlock but headed Giggs’ cross inches over at the near post. Gomes was again called upon to tip over Park’s stinging drive as United strove for a late winner.

But the Reds were almost punished in the dying minutes as Modric drove forward and his deflected shot landed on the roof of the net, with van der Sar beaten.

The game’s final chance fell to Giggs, whose curled free-kick looked destined for the top corner but was tipped over superbly by Gomes.


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