My Favourite Game: Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 25 April 2009


By Omorogbe Usuomon

The best game in recent memory, for me, is the game against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in the 2008/2009 Premier League season. We were chasing a third successive league title; we were on top of the table and playing at home against a resurgent Spurs that had seen the North London club recover from a disastrous start to their league campaign which saw Harry Redknapp replace Juande Ramos as manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson selected a strong team including the reigning world player of the year and the (then) British record signing. The manager opted for his preferred 4-4-2 formation with Rafael da Silva on the right side of defence, Nani on the right of midfield, Ronaldo on the left, Carrick and Fletcher in midfield and Rooney and Berbatov upfront.

United were flat during the first half and as a consequence found themselves two goals down at half time with goals from Darren Bent and Luka Modric. Heurelho Gomes was rarely tested, although he did save a Cristiano Ronaldo effort.

At half time Ferguson earned his corn. Carlos Tevez replaced Nani which saw Wayne Rooney move to the left of midfield, Ronaldo to the right and Tevez being paired with Berbatov. The change had an immediate impact as the tempo of United’s play increased immensely and the home club laid siege on the Tottenham goal.

Approximately ten minutes after the restart, United were awarded a debatable penalty when referee Howard Webb adjudged Gomes felled Carrick inside the penalty area. Ronaldo stepped up to fire home for his first of the game. Before long, Wayne Rooney added his name to the scoresheet to make it two all. Less than two minutes later, he (Rooney) set up Ronaldo for a fantastic header (the goal of the game in my opinion) and United had taken the lead for the first time in the game. Spurs were rattled. They didn’t know what hit them and they had no idea how to respond. The champions had staged a comeback and the crowd was roaring them on; there was only going to be one winner.

Rooney added a fourth before Dimitar Berbatov grabbed a richly deserved fifth against his former team to complete an incredible 5 goal spree in the space of twenty two minutes. The Bulgarian was excellent throughout. The game ended 5-2 and United remained on top of the table (and went on to win the title). This was the stuff champions were made of and Old Trafford was treated to a thriller. The game was turned on its head when Sir Alex pulled off a tactical masterstroke by introducing Carlos Tevez from the bench illustrating the depth in the squad. In the second half, the team effectively played in a 4-2-4 formation and exhilarating went for broke as only Manchester United can.

That was the game of the season for me and yet another stunning Manchester United comeback against Tottenham Hotspur. Oh, and of course the comeback wiped many a smile from the red half of Liverpool!

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  1. spurs guvnor on

    You forgot to mention howard webb handed you that game. Webb and clattenburg alternate each time we play you and make sure you get the 3points. Ive lost count of the amount of times we have outplayed you and got nothing.

  2. We need to score with one second left of the customary five mins if its 0-0 to beat the clock watching chewer

  3. & not to mention how he let nani pick the ball up & place it down again to roll it into the spurs goal as all the other players watched & waited for the free kick which never seems to come when either twattenberg or plebb ref with united playing.

  4. Most important of SAF:s geniality was how he read the game. You were outplayed on the midfield first half. Not only by our star Modric, but by our butcher Palacios. After the break, each of your midfielders like Giggs and Scholes assaulted Palacios and got a yellow card. He was short after that out of the game and you reclaimed the midfield area which led to victory. Hats of for SAF. Genious! Refs will always reward you an extra ten points per season, but thats another issue…

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