Man Utd 2-0 Spurs: Four Things We Learned From The Best Performance Under Ten Hag

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte looks dejected.

Reuters/John Sibley

A special night at the Theatre of Dreams for Erik ten Hag, as his Manchester United side produced their most dominating performance of the season.

The 2-0 defeat somehow flattered the third-best team in the league, as the Red Devils outplayed Tottenham Hotspur from start to finish. Despite Hugo Lloris’ best efforts, he couldn’t keep United quiet for long and was beaten by Fred’s deflected effort minutes after the start of the second half.

Spurs were forced to come out of their defensive third in search of an equaliser and were caught on the break by Bruno Fernandes, who doubled the hosts’ lead with a curling first-time finish.

Here’s what we learned from a statement United win over Spurs:

1. Conte outclassed

In his pre-match press conference, Antonio Conte claimed the last meeting between the two sides was decided solely by Cristiano Ronaldo. But such was United’s performance on Wednesday that the Spurs boss was left with no other choice but to give credit to Ten Hag’s men for the result.

The Dutchman didn’t need Cristiano Ronaldo to keep Spurs in their penalty area for the best part of the game, as his players attempted 28 shots against Spurs – the most by any team this season.

Saying Ten Hag got the better of the Italian tactician would be an understatement, as never in his managerial career Conte has seen his team face more shots in a single top-flight league game.

In reply, Spurs could only muster two shots at David de Gea’s goal, with the centre-back pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane proving too much for the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

2. Hugo Lloris

Such was United’s dominance that Lloris made eight saves and still ended up conceding two goals. The Frenchman was called in to make five saves from five different United players in the opening 25 minutes alone.

He couldn’t do much to prevent Fred’s deflected shot from going into the net, but didn’t let his guard down after losing the clean sheet and made another superb save to deny Marcus Rashford soon after.

Lloris had a busy outing against Arsenal as well. And it only seems a matter of time before Spurs are slapped with an embarrassing scoreline if Conte persists with his reactive approach in big games.

3. Magnifico

The Portuguese, who received backlash for his performance against Newcastle United, justified his guaranteed spot in the starting XI by delivering a Man of the Match display in the very next match.

Fernandes created nine chances, the most by a player in a Premier League fixture this campaign. He also ended his five-game scoring drought with a well-placed strike in the 69th minute.

To get more goal involvement from the 28-year-old, Ten Hag needs to continue deploying his stand-in captain behind a striker who drifts wide, as it allows him to impact the game from central areas and arrive more in the penalty box.

4. Drama

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag acknowledges the fans before the match.

REUTERS/Toby Melville

Perhaps the only moment of the game that didn’t take place to Ten Hag’s liking was Ronaldo’s decision to walk down the tunnel five minutes before the full-time whistle.

The 37-year-old was an unused substitute against Spurs, as the Dutch coach opted to bring on Anthony Elanga ahead of him to maintain a high press. Ronaldo, who might not have appreciated Ten Hag’s decision to not start him in the first place, headed back to the dressing room with his bib still on.

The United manager refused to give away too much when asked to react to the incident, but it certainly won’t be appreciated at Carrington, as Ronaldo’s petulance took away the spotlight from his teammates, who were all brilliant in engineering the best performance of the Erik ten Hag era.