On this day seven years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney led a sensational fightback for Manchester United at Old Trafford as they overturned a two-goal deficit to thrash Spurs.
Manchester United 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Spurs crumbled under second half pressure from Alex Ferguson’s side as they surrendered a 2-0 cushion, eventually being shipped for five in a second half to forget for Harry Redknapp.
Vedrun Corluka’s cross to Darren Bent inside the first half hour was clinically converted by the striker as he got the better of Ferdinand, and the lead was doubled minutes later when Luca Modric tucked home Aaron Lennon’s cross.
The Old Trafford crowd was not to be downbeat for much longer though, as the stage was set for a thrilling fightback, as the Guardian state:
“There can surely be no more exhilarating sight in English football than United chasing a match. They were rattled at half-time, playing badly and trailing to goals from Darren Bent and Luca Modric, with Tottenham seemingly on their way to their first win here since 1989.”
United sensed hope however when Michael Carrick was brought down by Heurelho Gomes, and Howard Webb pointed to the spot leaving Spurs players incensed. Ronaldo converted the penalty to cut the deficit to one.
Rooney levelled the scores when he blasted home from outside the box after Dimitar Berbatov and Rafael had combined to set the striker up.
The comeback was complete 60 second later when Rooney crossed for Ronaldo, who headed home emphatically.
There was an element of fortune about United’s fourth goal, as Jonathan Woodgate almost kept Rooney’s volley from squeezing over the line, although he succeeded only in watching the ball trickle home.
Berbatov added the icing on the cake to what had been a spell of four goals in 14 minutes, poking home after having his initial header saved by Gomes.
Sky Sports described the fightback as ‘awesome’:
“It just proved to be the prelude for an awesome display of attacking power, United cutting loose once Ronaldo had given them hope from the spot.
“After Liverpool’s eight-goal thriller with Arsenal, it was another example of why the Premier League is the most entertaining in the world.”
It was a fourth win in what would prove to be seven in a row, and the result meant Fergie’s men retained their firm grip on top spot, and moved closer to eventually capturing a third successive title.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney. Substitutes: Foster, Anderson, Evans, Macheda, O’Shea, Tevez, Scholes.
Goals: Ronaldo 57 pen, Rooney 67, Ronaldo 68, Rooney 71, Berbatov 79.
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Woodgate, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Jenas, Modric, Keane, Bent. Substitutes: Cudicini, Hutton, Zokora, Bentley, Chimbonda, Huddlestone, Bale.
Goals: Bent 29, Modric 32.
What they said
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp lambasted referee Howard Webb for the penalty decision.
“The turning point was definitely the penalty. It turned the game in their favour without a doubt,” he told the BBC.
“At that stage I couldn’t see us getting beat. It was a gift which wasn’t deserved. It was a terrible decision. Howard (Webb) is supposed to be our best ref, but if he’s the best I’d hate to see the worst.”
Fergie believed it was somewhat of a leveller after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Everton the previous week.
“It was a bit fortunate. Football is funny like that. Last week we were knocked out of the FA Cup by not getting a penalty kick.
“It doesn’t deflect from our second-half performance.”