Mkhitaryan scores only goal to give Man United first win a Old Trafford since Sept
enrikh Mkhitaryan was once more the star as Manchester United achieved their most significant victory of the season in a must-win encounter with Tottenham Hotspur.
Mkhitaryan scored an outstanding first-half goal to again fuel the debate as to whether he has been strangely under-used by Jose Mourinho so far this campaign or held back by the United manager until he was ready. Unfortunately, late on, Mkhitaryan had to be stretchered off after going down injured under a challenge by Danny Rose and appearing to damage his ankle.
His goal – his first in the Premier League and the first-ever by an Armenian in this league – inflicted only the second league defeat of the season on Tottenham Hotspur and closed the gap between the two sides – fifth and six as they attempt to hunt down the top four – to three points.
Off day: Harry Kane had a bad game and gave the ball away for the goal CREDIT: GETTY
T he victory was earned as United capitalised on a Harry Kane error – as the out-of-sorts Spurs striker carelessly lost possession on half-way – with the impressive Ander Herrera then sliding a smart pass through to pick out Mkhitaryan who ran on to hammer a powerful, rising shot beyond goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
The Spurs captain denied Paul Pogba on two occasions. The first came in only the second minute of the match, when Pogba should have scored with a poorly placed side-footed shot. In the second half, Lloris turned away his countryman’s bouncing effort, and the midfielder also crashed a superb free-kick against the corner of post and cross-bar.
Everything but the goal: Pogba was denied twice and hit the woodwork CREDIT: GETTY
M ourinho, finally, appears to be settling on a front-six which is far more threatening and balanced, although Spurs did create opportunities of their own. United goalkeeper David De Gea, on two occasions, repelled Christian Eriksen free-kicks while Victor Wanyama had to do better than head the ball back across the penalty area. That also came from an Eriksen free-kick with De Gea also punching out another effort from the Dane.
It was a frustrating afternoon for Spurs who had chances but whose squad limitations were again exposed with United deserving the points.
The result also ended United's frustrating run of draws – four in a row at home in the league – and Mourinho will hope it will act as a springboard to hunting down the teams ahead of them. They have little margin for error.