Classic Match: Tottenham 3 – 5 Manchester United, 2001

Fourth placed Tottenham host league leaders Manchester United at White Lane today hoping to derail United’s title charge. The two sides have served some true thrillers in the past, most notably in September, 2001 when the Red Devils came from three goals down to win 5-3 at White Hart Lane.

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On a weekend which saw David O’Leary’s Leeds overcome Ipswich 2-1 to climb to the summit of the Premier League, then-champions Manchester United showed their fighting spirit as they overcame a three-goal deficit in what was one of the Premier League’s greatest ever comebacks.

Things could not have started better for the Glenn Hoddle’s side as picturesque Spurs defender Dean Richards gave the home side a dream start on his debut to boot as he headed in the opener.

Les Ferdinand then spun aging United defender Laurent Blanc and shot Spurs two-nil up before German midfielder Christian Ziege produced a classy diving header to tremble Spurs’ lead. Game over thought the home fans as the Yid Army gleefully cheered every pass until the half-time whistle blew.

Little did they know what was to hit them! Having presumably felt the worst of Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘hairdryer’ treatment, United came out a different side and began the most miraculous of comebacks.

Mikael Silvestre came on to inject pace down the left side, in place of Denis Irwin, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Butt as United played with three up front and within a minute of the second half the visitors had pulled one back when Andy Cole headed home David Beckham’s cross.

Blanc then made up for his earlier misjudgement by glancing home Beckham’s corner as the visitors began to believe. The equalizer by Ruud Van Nistelrooy when it came was more inevitable then Tony Blair blindly following George Bush, and playmaker Juan Sebastian Veron’s (remember him?) left-footed drive gave United a 4-3 lead.

David Beckham then shot home the fifth three minutes from time to seal one of the most dramatic matches between the pair.

As the Premier League drew its breath, Spurs fans, players and coaching staff all left scratching their heads as to how they could blow a three goal lead to an, admittedly, superb Red Devils side.

John Motson’s verdict? “The (United) comeback was colossal!” In The Stands hopes for more of the same today.

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