Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Manchester United
White Hart Lane, April 27th 2003
Eight years ago today United took a huge step towards regaining the League title from Arsenal with victory over their north London rivals Tottenham.
The 2002/03 season was a strange one for United. Just four days earlier The Reds had gone out of the Champions League to a Ronaldo-inspired, first incarnation of Real Madrid’s ‘Galacticos’. Before 2002 became 2003, United had already lost to Bolton, Leeds, Manchester City, Blackburn and Middlesbrough and Arsenal looked like they were running away with the title.
The defeat at The Riverside on Boxing Day however, was to be the last time United lost in the League all season. On New Years’ Day, late goals from David Beckham and Paul Scholes against Sunderland proved to be the catalyst for United’s run that ended in title number 15.
On the way to the title which Sir Alex Ferguson at the time described as his “greatest achievement” United demolished both Liverpool and Newcastle 4-0 and 6-2 respectively, as well as coming from behind at Highbury to draw 2-2 with Arsenal.
The day before the game at White Hart Lane, Arsenal had been leading 2-0 at Bolton and looked to have kept the destiny of the title in their hands until a late Youri Djorkaeff strike and stoppage-time Martin Keown own-goal put United in the driving seat. A victory over Spurs was by no means a guarantee and despite bombarding the Tottenham goal, The Reds found Spurs’ ‘keeper Kasey Keller in inspired form.
As the clock ticked down it was going to take something special to beat the American, and that something special came through Paul Scholes. With twenty minutes to go Scholes struck after a lovely passing move involving himself, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham. Scholes was enjoying his most prolific season in a United shirt and the goal was his twentieth – and last, of the campaign.
The look on Scholes’ face summed up the emotion all United fans were feeling, as it was the moment they knew that an eighth League title in eleven years was heading to Old Trafford.
Ruud van Nistelrooy sealed the victory for United, but it was Scholes’ goal that had won the match at a time when it was beginning to look like Tottenham’s resistance would prevail. A 4-1 victory over Charlton the following week and Leeds’ surprise triumph over Arsenal the next day confirmed United as Champions.
United’s line-up that day
13. Carroll; 24. Brown, 6. Ferdinand, 27. Silvestre, 22. O’Shea; 7. Beckham, 16. Keane, 18. Scholes, 11. Giggs; 10. van Nistelrooy, 20. Solskjaer. Substitutes: 2. G. Neville, 25. Fortune.