Tottenham 'still in hunt' despite Old Trafford setback
- Credit: PA
Tottenham Hotspur remain in the hunt for a Champions League spot come the end of the season, despite being narrowly edged out 3-2 away from home by fellow hopefuls Manchester United.
A hat-trick from United’s star man Cristiano Ronaldo meant Spurs returned home empty handed with nothing to show for a spirited performance at Old Trafford.
They started the game poorly, allowing the Reds to dominate, leading them to be punished early in the first half by going 1-0 down.
Tottenham’s defence backed off Ronaldo, giving him too much time and space to launch a rocket from around 25 yards straight into the top corner, rolling back the years.
Spurs responded well, controlling the game following the goal, as United took their foot off the gas, and the Lilywhites levelled through a Harry Kane penalty, after Alex Telles was adjudged to have handled inside the penalty box.
Good work from Nemenja Matic and Jadon Sancho quickly saw United regain the lead, as Ronaldo’s second goal sent him to the top of the global charts for most competitive ever goals scored.
As Tottenham pushed for an equaliser, Son Heung-Min fired a shot beyond David De Gea's near post in the 61st minute after Dejan Kulusevski's excellent square pass.
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United retreated further and deeper, failing to maintain possession, and with 20 minutes remaining the visitors were equal for a second time after Sergio Reguilon's cross was diverted into his own net by United captain Harry Maguire.
Ronaldo wasn't finished just yet, though, and leapt above Tottenham's defenders from a corner kick to direct his header into the top corner and restore United's advantage as they claimed all three points to keep themselves in the hunt for the Premier League's top four.
The result left Spurs six points behind Arsenal in fourth place, after their 2-0 victory over Leicester, with the Gunners also having a game in hand on their north London neighbours.
There is very little margin for error between now and the end of the season for Antonio Conte’s men if they are to target a Champions League spot.
Sunday’s London derby against fellow European hopefuls West Ham United will be a strong indicator of how much the players want a top-four spot.