Manchester United had the returning Paul Pogba to thank this evening, after the Frenchman’s brilliance allowed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men to fight back for a potentially crucial point at Spurs.
CL chase resumes
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham welcomed United to north London a short time ago, for a Premier League clash.
The matchup came as both sides’ first on the back of the COVID-19-enforced break, with clubs across the English top-flight of course taking to the pitch for the first time since March this week.
Nevertheless, this evening’s tie came as a crucial one in the race for Champions League football.
Ahead of kick-off, visitors United sat in 5th, 3 points adrift of 4th-placed Chelsea.
Spurs, meanwhile, sat 4 points further back of the Red Devils, in a disappointing 8th.
As such, the Lilywhites were no doubt aware ahead of proceedings getting underway that they simply couldn’t afford a defeat, if the club maintain any real hope of securing a place in Europe’s premiere club competition next season.
Fernandes cancels out Bergwijn
And, when all was said and done, Spurs did manage to avoid defeat, albeit by means of a draw.
A tightly-contested opening 45 minutes eventually saw the hosts take the lead shortly before the half-hour mark, courtesy of Steven Bergwijn.
A moment of individual brilliance on the part of the Dutchman saw him burst through the heart of the Manchester United backline, leaving Harry Maguire for dead, before rifling a low effort beyond David de Gea.
Upon replays being broadcasted, it quickly became evident that de Gea should certainly have done better with Bergwijn’s strike, but credit must go to the Spurs wide-man for the only real moment of brilliance of the first-half.
3 – Steven Bergwijn is just the second Spurs player to score in each of his first three home Premier League appearances for the club after Rafael van der Vaart in 2010-11. Double-dutch. #TOTMUN pic.twitter.com/zxMb7jF84P
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 19, 2020
The early exchanges following the interval saw the clash continue in much the same fashion, as Tottenham sat deep, daring United to break them down.
The Red Devils largely toiled in their efforts to do so, until a key substitution just past the hour mark.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to haul off the ineffective Daniel James and Fred, to be replaced by Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba.
And it wasn’t long until the latter produced a moment of brilliance, to hand his side the chance to level things up.
After picking the ball up on the right wing, Pogba danced his way past Eric Dier with a superb piece of skill, eventually resulting in the Tottenham stopper hauling the Frenchman down.
Penalty or no penalty? 🤔⚖
Eric Dier isn’t happy with Paul Pogba but it’s given and Manchester United level it up! 💥
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) June 19, 2020
Bruno Fernandes stepped up to convert the ensuing spot-kick in typically cool fashion, setting up a tense final 10 minutes.
Incredibly, the visitors were then awarded another penalty with seconds remaining, but, following a VAR check, Jon Moss’ decision was overturned.
This saw the two sides forced to settle for a point apiece, a result which did little to aid the European ambitions of either Spurs or Manchester United.
Pogba stars/Fernandes criticised
As outlined above, while it was Bruno Fernandes who again stepped up to the plate with a decisive strike for the Red Devils this evening, it was in fact midfield partner Pogba who set in motion his side’s comeback.
The former Juventus man breathed new life into United’s performance following his introduction, adding some much-needed creativity from deep, and the required moment of magic when it was needed.
A wonderful defence-splitting pass late on also saw Pogba set Marcus Rashford free on goal, but the Englishman’s efforts were snuffed out at the last second.
What was perhaps most encouraging of all from a Manchester United perspective, though, was how motivated Pogba looked.
The 27-year-old had not kicked a ball since December before tonight, with his commitment to the Red Devils cause having been called into question for the umpteenth time as a result.
But, if tonight’s display is anything to go by, then the United faithful could certainly be forgiven for feeling as though they are set to have a devoted Pogba raring for every minute of action over the final weeks of the campaign.
Man Utd’s big chances vs. Spurs:
63 minutes without Pogba – 1
34 minutes with Pogba – 2
Turned the tide. 🌊🌊🌊 pic.twitter.com/HMwZquzMVb
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 19, 2020
It should also be noted that while Pogba has since been widely lauded on the back of his comeback performance, Bruno Fernandes, despite his equaliser, has been the target of heavy criticism in the game’s aftermath.
This comes after the Portuguese creator was accused of diving in his attempts to win his side a late penalty, which, as mentioned above, was originally awarded, but later overturned following a VAR check.
The online reaction has since been one of typical ruthlessness, with some of the top Tweets showcased below:
Barely a mention from Tyler and Neville about Fernandes dive, if that was Salah that would be all that they would be talking about from the game
— John O Sullivan (@Corballyred) June 19, 2020
HOW DOES BRUNO FERNANDES NOT GET A CARD FOR THAT DIVE #TOTMNU
— BurdMane Picks (@favnarcissist) June 19, 2020
What a dive from Bruno 😷😷😷😷
Quality aside does her ever stay on his feet for a physical challenge? FFS
Gone down like a thousand times in this game and always does tbh. I remember the derby too, the free kick goal. He’s soooo soft 😂😂😂
— Akio Fernandes 🐺 (@BlueWolf_09) June 19, 2020
fernandes so quickly became my most hated player. such a diver
— CityFan98 (@De17Bruyne) June 19, 2020
Shameless from Bruno Fernandes what a fucking dive 😂
— neus (@itsneus) June 19, 2020
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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