PREMIER LEAGUE – Utd 1-0 Spurs: Walker gifts three points to Utd

Manchester United opened the Premier League season with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur thanks to Kyle Walker’s own goal.

United’s performance was more workmanlike than stylish as they nullified a Tottenham side who had started vibrantly, but fell away quickly after falling behind, before rallying towards the end.

A confident opening from the away side was all for nothing as Manchester United took the lead against the run of play.

Having looked so composed bringing the ball out from the back, Spurs lost it in midfield through Nabil Bentaleb and as Ashley Young’s run dragged the centre-backs away, Wayne Rooney was afforded the time and space to miscontrol the cut back only for Walker to inadvertently bundle the ball beyond Michel Vorm.

 

Ashley Young registered United’s first shot on target in the 65th minute before Sergio Romero twice denied Christian Eriksen a late equaliser in the dying minutes as Louis van Gaal’s side held out for an opening day victory.

Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay celebrate after Tottenham's Kyle Walker scored an own goal and the first goal for Manchester United
Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay celebrate after Tottenham’s Kyle Walker scored an own goal and the first goal for Manchester United – Reuters

KEY MOMENTS

5’ – ERIKSEN SHOT! Wonderful build-up play from Spurs. Harry Kane turns provider, scooping the ball over the top of the United defence and an onrushing Christian Eriksen lobs his effort onto the roof of the net.

22’ – WALKER OWN GOAL! And Man United take the lead. A Kyle Walker own goal. Ashley Young is played in behind by Memphis and with Wayne Rooney in acres of space inside the 18-yard box, Walker rushes into the challenge but inadvertently bundles the ball into the back of the net 12 yards out.

36’ – MATA SHOT! Again Spurs lose it in the middle and Rooney breaks with purpose, Mata makes a strong run to his right. His first shot is blocked and his second is scuffed just wide of the far post.

65’ – YOUNG SHOT! Wayne Rooney’s cross is just about headed away from under Schweinsteiger. It falls to Ashley Young in the penalty area, who makes some room to fire a low shot at the near post but it’s well saved on the line by Vorm.

85’ – ERIKSEN SHOT! Brilliant diagonal ball from Alderweireld flies over Valencia’s head but Eriksen’s venomous strike is too close to Romero and easily saved.

88’ – ROMERO SAVES! Spurs float a free kick in which Kane wins in the air before Romero flings himself in the way of it. The ball is recycled back into the area and Eriksen’s low drive is heading toward the bottom corner before the Argentine dives low to his right and beats it away. Big saves.

Manchester United celebrate their goal
Manchester United celebrate their goal – AFP

KEY STATS

This is the first time the opening goal of a Premier League season has been an own goal.

Bastian Schweinsteiger became the first German to represent Manchester United in an official match.

TALKING POINT

Spurs are their own worst enemy. A confident start, a positive early move resulting in a missed clear-cut chance, before a momentary lapse of concentration in defence, a comical own goal, and 70 minutes of ball chasing.

Tottenham's Kyle Walker scored an own goal and the first goal for Manchester United
Tottenham’s Kyle Walker scored an own goal and the first goal for Manchester United – AFP

MAN OF THE MATCH

Chris Smalling (Manchester United): A consummate performance from the Englishman, typified by a brilliantly composed late challenge on Chadli as the Belgian looked to shoot. A big campaign lies ahead as he begins his sixth season at Old Trafford.

PLAYER RATINGS

Manchester United: Romero 7, Darmian 6, Smalling 8, Blind 6, Shaw 6, Carrick 6, Memphis 6, Schneiderlin 7; Mata 6, Rooney 6, Young 7. Subs: Schweinsteiger 7,Herrera 6, Valencia 5.

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm 6, Walker 5, Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6, Bentaleb 5, Dier 6, Chadli 6, Eriksen 7, Dembele 5, Kane 6. Subs: Mason 6, Lamela 6, Alli 6.