Tottenham came back from behind twice in a pulsating Premier League encounter to deny Manchester United a victory in front of new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe, attending his first game since a proposed 25% purchase of his boyhood club was confirmed on Christmas Eve, said beforehand that he was “very excited” to be there.
And he saw Rasmus Hojlund drive United into a third-minute lead.
But Ratcliffe’s pre-match assertion that United “normally do well against Spurs” wasn’t quite borne out here.
Brazilian striker Richarlison levelled with his sixth goal in as many Premier League games for the visitors, who were without three players, including captain Son Heung-min – away with South Korea at the Asian Cup.
Marcus Rashford put the hosts ahead before the break, but Rodrigo Bentancur wiped out the advantage a minute after the restart with a blistering shot, his first goal since April, during which time he has recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury and an ankle problem.
The rest of the game would have been an education for Ratcliffe, who sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson in the directors’ box. United had less than 40% possession, nine shots against Tottenham’s 16 and only a third of the visitors’ six on target.
A draw was not enough to take Tottenham above rivals Arsenal and into the top four. But it did allow them to maintain an eight-point advantage over their hosts, who could drop to 10th before they are next in action against Wolves on 1 February.
Hojlund and Rashford’s rare double
Prior to this game, Hojlund and Rashford had only scored four Premier League goals between them this season. Ratcliffe was privileged indeed, therefore, to see both get on the scoresheet in his first 45 minutes as a returning ‘fan’. That the pair also had a significant involvement in the other’s goal just added to the sense of occasion.
It was only in United’s last home game, against Aston Villa on 26 December, that Hojlund broke his duck with a memorable late winner.
His latest effort smacked of someone who is having a surge of confidence. Hojlund wasted little time in blasting a shot high into the Tottenham goal after Destiny Udogie had stepped in to halt Rashford’s charge across the penalty area.
Rashford has achieved so much that confidence should not be an issue. But he has been a shadow of the player who broke the 30-goal mark for the first time last season. There was an element of being unsure of himself when he delayed getting a shot away having found himself in the perfect position just before half-time. By then, though he had already found the net once.
Bruno Fernandes was a significant factor, spraying a superb pass out to the England forward. But it was Hojlund who then provided the perfect return pass, which Tottenham’s defenders were too slow to react to as Rashford sent his shot into the bottom corner.