(REUTERS) – MANCHESTER United’s Bruno Fernandes fired home a late penalty to rescue a point for the visitors in a lively 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League yesterday.
It had looked as though Dutchman Steven Bergwijn’s first-half strike would prove enough to revive Tottenham’s faltering hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
But United, with Paul Pogba on as a second-half substitute for his first appearance since January, because of injury, stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12.
Pogba immediately added some spark to United’s play and it was his dribble that forced a clumsy tackle by Eric Dier to concede the penalty that Fernandes fired past Hugo Lloris.
United thought they had another penalty awarded in stoppage time when Fernandes went over under challenge from Dier but VAR rightly reversed the decision to the home side’s relief.
Spurs remained in eighth spot on 42 points while United are fifth on 46, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
The usual pre-match music bellowed around the empty 62 000-seater stadium, but after the whistle blew an eerie silence descended – the new normal in the Premier League since the restart from the stoppage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the lack of atmosphere there was no lack of energy on the field in an often feisty clash.
Marcus Rashford, who used the long break to recover from a back injury, almost gave United the lead after 21 minutes when his close-range volley was kept out by Lloris’s legs.
It was Tottenham who went ahead, though, shortly afterwards.
Bergwijn marked his Spurs debut with a superb strike against Manchester City in February and showed again why the club signed him from PSV Eindhoven in the January transfer window.
His strike after a surging run was fierce but straight at David de Gea who could only deflect it into the net.
The Spanish keeper did much better soon after, when he tipped Son Heung-min’s header over the bar.
Pogba replaced the ineffective Fred just past the hour and United were immediately more dangerous.
Twice Anthony Martial looked certain to equalise, first when Dier made a sliding interception to block his shot and then when Lloris produced a stunning flying save.
Victory would have launched Spurs back into the hunt for a top-five finish but Dier’s rash tackle left them frustrated.
It could have been worse for Jose Mourinho’s side. After their VAR let-off United substitute Mason Greenwood went agonisingly close to snatching a winner.