Son Heung-min’s late equaliser completed a stirring Tottenham fightback from two goals down in their 2-2 draw against top-four rivals Manchester United on Thursday.
Just days after their 6-1 thrashing at Newcastle, troubled Tottenham looked set for another heavy Premier League defeat after United struck twice in the first half.
Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were United’s scorers, but in their first match under caretaker manager Ryan Mason, Tottenham showed the kind of spirit that has been sorely lacking for much of their turbulent campaign.
Pedro Porro’s goal early in the second half gave them a lifeline and Son’s close-range strike capped the escape act in the closing stages at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
While Tottenham’s comeback was something of a morale boost during a difficult period, the result was still a blow to their faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League via a top-four finish.
Fifth-placed Tottenham are six points behind fourth-placed United, who have two games in hand, and eight adrift of third-placed Newcastle.
“Pleased with the reaction. In the second half, we were outstanding, with the character we showed after last Sunday and going two goals down tonight,”
“I hope the fans can see that we were a team today and we ran for each other. In the second half we could have scored a lot more. I have a team that’s willing to fight.”Mason said.
Tottenham, without a trophy since 2008, still look likely to miss out on a lucrative Champions League berth, leaving them facing an uncertain future as the pressure on chairman Daniel Levy mounts.
Levy took the brunt of the criticism from angry fans on Thursday as the tension from a shambolic season boiled over.
There was mutiny in the north London air as supporters gathered outside the stadium before kick-off to call for his resignation.
Chants with the same anti-Levy sentiment echoed throughout the game, while black balloons with the slogan ‘£NIC OUT’ in reference to the ENIC company that owns Tottenham swirled around the stands as the chairman stared glumly from his seat in the directors’ box.
Tottenham’s dismal campaign hit a new low on Sunday when they were hammered at Newcastle after conceding five goals in the first 21 minutes.
Interim boss Cristian Stellini was sacked after that humiliation, making him the second manager to leave the club this season after Antonio Conte’s exit by “mutual consent” in March.
In contrast to Tottenham’s turmoil, United look positively stable despite the ongoing bidding war to buy the club from the Glazer family.
They won the League Cup earlier this season and beat Brighton on penalties on Sunday to book an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester City.
“We didn’t play that well. We were not clinical enough. Of course when you are 2-0 up then you are a little bit disappointed when you draw. That’s quite obvious,”United manager Erik ten Hag said.
After conceding their first goal in the Newcastle rout after just two minutes, it took Tottenham’s porous defence seven minutes to succumb this time.
Rashford picked out Sancho on the left edge of the penalty area and the forward was gifted time and space to curl a fine finish into the far corner for his first goal in 14 appearances.
Rashford had the measure of the Tottenham defence and in the 44th minute he broke clear to net his 29th goal this season.
Sprinting onto Bruno Fernandes’ pass, Rashford surged away from Eric Dier to guide a composed finish past Fraser Forster from eight yards.
Tottenham put up a better fight in the second half and Porro, a much-maligned January signing from Sporting Lisbon, reduced the deficit in the 56th minute when the right-back blasted past David De Gea from just inside the area.
Tottenham were pouring forward with renewed belief and Son netted their deserved equaliser when he tapped in Harry Kane’s cross in the 79th minute.