Date: 26th August 2007 at 7:16pm
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What a relief. What a tremendous relief. United, after a heartbreakingly poor start, have finally recorded a win – and right now I’m not very much interested in its manner.

For it has to be said that the team did not play well. In fact, we played pretty badly at occasions and sometimes looked as if we were in self-destruct mode. Spurs would have deserved to get something out of the game but it was high time to have a share of luck.

Jol’s side could have scored after only 20 seconds, as Robbie Keane’s well-struck shot hit the upper side of the bar, Van der Sar diving in vain. It should have served as a caution but in the first 15 minutes, United appeared to be slow, unimaginative and even lacking in skill and technique.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that things improved much after that. We started to control the game and master possession but struggled to create chances until the middle of the half when, in quick succession, Rio, Carrick and Scholes all could have put us ahead.

They didn’t and the rest of the half passed uneventful: Spurs seemed content with the result while United lacked the drive and inspiration to make a breakthrough.

We hoped that the second half would bring something different, something better, something inspirational. Well, it didn’t, not for us. But Spurs could have scored three times midway through the second 45 minutes, as Dimitar Berbatov finally found his feet and started to torment Rio Ferdinand who had a nightmare of a game. The visitors appealed for a penalty not long after Berbatov should have put them ahead but for Ferdinand’s goalline clearance, but it would have been extremely harsh to award a spot-kick for Brown’s action.

United responded with a Tevez shot cleared from the goalline then with a magnificent goal. After some more sluggish play in front of the visitors’ box, Nani recovered the ball, beat a man with a nice backheel-trick then, from 30 yards at least, unleashed a fiery shot that Robinson had no chance to stop.

Old Trafford was awash with relief but Spurs refused to disappear and pressed hardly for an equaliser, aided by defensive mistakes that were so few last season. They failed and though United could have scored again on the break had Giggs and Nani been more alert and quick, the 1-0 win is tremendous at the moment – and the result flattered us, if truth be told.

Player Ratings

Van der Sar 6
Though Spurs were threatening, they rarely troubled Edwin (just as we rarely troubled Robinson). It was a heartbreaking moment when Berbatov poked the ball through his legs but otherwise did his job well.

Brown 5
Struggled against Gareth Bale (who impressed throughout, mind you) and offered almost nothing in attack. How we miss Gary Neville…

Ferdinand 5
He would have got a four but for his goalline clearance. I was sure Berbatov will score but fortunately, Rio had other ideas. However, his concentration and determination were insufficient throughout the game and we could have conceded from at least three of his mistakes.

Vidic 6
He did his job well but gave the ball away before the Berbatov-chance… it seemed that the Serbian, after a confident start, was shaken by his defensive partner’s terrible showing.

Evra 6
He was one of our better performers but too often made wrong decisions in attack. In defense he was more or less solid.

Carrick 5
Started well, had a very good shot but then faded and he seemed slow, sluggish – he just can’t play well against Spurs it seems.

Scholes 7
One of our best players on the afternoon. Rarely gave the ball away, always created space for himself and others but too often his teammates failed him.

Hargreaves 7
The other star for United – his only mistake led to the penalty appeal but otherwise tackled a lot, he was confident in possession of the ball and ruled the midfield.

Nani 7
Threatening runs, good dribbles but little end product – apart from his brilliant goal of course that could be very important.

Tevez 6
He just can’t find his feet. His only real chance he failed to convert and for me it seemed he lacked courage. Is that possible? Hopefully he’ll be better when gets settled.

Giggs 5
No sharpness of mind, no incisive passes, no great runs – disappointing, I think. Twice he could have set up a goal on the break at 1-0 and twice he wasted too much time before making an eventually wrong decision.

Eagles 6
Was better than Carrick whom he replaced but wouldn’t have changed the game…

Fletcher 6
A great tackle was his first touch after coming on but created trouble when failed to clear on the edge of the box and let Berbatov shoot just over the bar.