Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani were on target while Harry Kane was anonymous as Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 on Saturday.
Coming into the game under intense pressure after the hammering against Liverpool, Manchester United needed to perform against Tottenham. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was being tipped for a sack, decided to change things up and field his team with a three-man defensive line and pair up Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo at the top, leaving Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood out.
And, it worked for the Red Devils as they looked more resolute at the back, although Tottenham lacked any intensity and purpose and hardly offered a threat. Towards the end of a largely cagey first-half, Ronaldo produced a piece of magic, striking a brilliant first-time finish from a tight angle to put Manchester United in front.
With Spurs throwing men forward in search of an equaliser, spaces started opening up for the Red Devils, and they hit the home team hard, as Ronaldo produced yet another moment of class to play Cavani through on goal, whose dinked effort found the back of the net to make it 2-0. Rashford then added a third with a classy finish after being sent through by fellow substitute Nemanja Matic.
The result saw Manchester United move into fifth place on the table while Tottenham lie in the eighth spot. It may have earned a temporary stay of execution for Solskjaer but Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo now finds himself under the cosh after the home support booed his team off on Saturday. Here are our player ratings from what proved to be a rather comfortable win for the Red Devils.
Tottenham Player Ratings
Hugo Lloris: 5/10
Lloris produced a fine stop to deny Fred a goal in the first half. But the Tottenham captain was well-beaten by Ronaldo’s strike, while one may argue he could have done better to stop Cavani after charging out. No chance for Rashford’s goal.
Emerson Royal: 4/10
The Brazilian did not lack for effort on the evening as he charged up and down the right flank. However, he failed to inspire confidence defensively while he also lacked the quality on the ball to hurt United when he ran forward. Nowhere to be seen for the second goal.
Cristian Romero: 4/10
It was a poor display from the Argentine, who did start well in the first half but lost his way as the game wore on. He failed to cut out Ronaldo’s pass leading to Cavani’s goal while he was way out of position in the lead-up to the third.
Eric Dier: 4/10
Got to love Eric Dier playing Cavani onside, then appealing for offside before and after he converts. pic.twitter.com/OcKbBjtFST
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) October 30, 2021
Dier made a good early block to thwart Cavani but was lucky to see Ronaldo’s strike chalked off early in the second half after he failed to cut out a pass. He played Cavani on for the second goal and Rashford got the better of him for the third, running past him with ease.
Ben Davies: 4/10
The seasoned Welshman was given the nod over Sergio Reguilon to add more steel and solidity to the backline. However, he failed to do that and lost track of Ronaldo for the opening goal. Davies found it hard to keep things tight on his side, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka enjoying a lot of joy on the flank.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 4/10
He showed good energy and ran around to try and attempt to stop Manchester United from pushing forward. However, his efforts were not always rewarded. Hojbjerg was indirectly responsible for the second goal, as he put his midfield partner, Oliver Skipp, under pressure with a poor pass.
Fairly fitting for Spurs to concede from a sideways ball between Hojbjerg and Skipp going wrong
— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) October 30, 2021
Oliver Skipp: 4/10
The youngster’s lack of experience at this level showed on Saturday as he struggled to cope with the Manchester United midfield. Lost the ball to Bruno Fernandes in the lead-up to the visitors’ second goal and was hooked off soon after.
Lucas Moura: 5.5/10
Moura showed energy and purpose down the right side for Tottenham and managed to create a good chance for Son Heung-min with a lovely dinked pass. However, he could not influence the proceedings a great deal and was taken off early in the second period, much to the displeasure of the home support who booed Nuno for the decision.
Giovani Lo Celso: 4/10
The Argentine midfielder was preferred to Tanguy Ndombele on the evening but failed to justify his selection with another dour display. Did not offer much quality on the ball, while his decision-making wasn’t always spot-on. He could not capitalise on a counter-attacking chance early in the second period when he could have played Son through on goal.
Son Heung-min: 5/10
Son looked dangerous each time he ran forward from the left flank but failed to take a couple of decent opportunities on the evening. The South Korean saw a shot deflected wide in the first half and then fired over when played in by Lucas Moura.
Harry Kane: 4/10
🚨 NEW: Harry Kane was booed by a section of Tottenham supporters during the 3-0 defeat today. [talkSPORT] pic.twitter.com/RGLDpeh3OZ
— The Spurs Web ⚪️ (@thespursweb) October 30, 2021
Apart from a pass to release Son Heung-min late in the first half, the England captain hardly offered any moments of quality. Kane looks like the shell of a player who won the Premier League Golden Boot and the Playmaker Award last season. He did make one surging run forward late in the second half but could not pick the right pass in the box.
Steven Bergwijn: 4/10
The Dutchman replaced Lucas Moura in the 54th minute but hardly made any impact on the game.
Tanguy Ndombele: 4/10
Sent on in place of Skipp after the second goal, the Frenchman could not get involved much.
Dele Alli: N/A
Alli replaced Lo Celso with less than 15 minutes left.
Manchester United Player Ratings
David de Gea: 6/10
The Manchester United goalkeeper had absolutely nothing to do on Saturday evening as Tottenham did not muster up a single shot on goal. An easy clean sheet for David de Gea after the mauling against Liverpool.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
The Swedish international looked much more comfortable as part of the back three, with the presence of Raphael Varane alongside him helping. He was beaten for pace on one occasion by Son, but the Tottenham man was flagged for offside. Not tested otherwise.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Clean sheet, three goals, three points. This is the response we wanted to show ! pic.twitter.com/ZOaIZiEqr9
— Raphaël Varane (@raphaelvarane) October 30, 2021
Back into the lineup after returning from injury, the Frenchman made a palpable difference to the Manchester United backline with his experience and composure. Although Spurs did not put him under much pressure, the Red Devils looked like a much more secure defensive unit with him.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
A marked improvement on his recent performances as the Manchester United captain looked much more solid. Maguire did not give Kane an inch on the evening and looked confident while striding out with the ball, knowing that two defenders were at the back providing cover.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 7/10
Playing slightly higher as a wing-back, Wan-Bissaka got forward well on the right side to offer attacking support to Cavani and Ronaldo, which kept Davies occupied. Defensively was solid throughout, with a tackle on Son being a standout moment of the evening.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
The Manchester United academy graduate bounced back after the Liverpool shocker with an accomplished display in the middle of the park. Won the ball back regularly, sprayed forward passes with accuracy and even made driving runs forward.
Like his midfield partner, Fred, too, showed a lot of improvement as the duo dominated their Tottenham counterparts on the night. He acted as an effective conduit between the two halves of the pitch and even forced a save from Lloris with a good hit from range.
Luke Shaw: 6.5/10
Another player who looked much better than he did against Liverpool. He defended well when he needed to, kept his discipline after an early booking and provided width on the left flank, delivering some teasing crosses.
Bruno Fernandes: 8/10
Bruno Fernandes has created more chances  than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues so far this season.
World class playmaker. 🎩 pic.twitter.com/JC7xfHtaJ3
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 30, 2021
Playing behind the front two of Ronaldo and Cavani, Fernandes looked in the mood as he constantly found pockets of spaces to exploit between the Spurs’ defence and midfield. The playmaker produced a sublime delivery for Ronaldo’s goal and played a role in the second one.
Edinson Cavani: 8/10
The veteran Uruguayan has had to bide his time for opportunities this season, but having been handed a start on Saturday, he made full use of it. He ran around pressing and harrying the opponents, displaying great industry and energy. And when his moment came, Cavani tucked away a lovely finish to make it 2-0 in the second half.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8/10
The Player to Watch in our match preview, Ronaldo showed how deadly he could be if the chances are created for him. Brilliant run and a spectacular finish to open the scoring for Manchester United. The Portuguese maverick then had a goal chalked off for offside in the second half. He then set Cavani up for the second goal with a perfectly weighted through pass after beating Skipp with a fine piece of skill. Sensational.
Another brilliant goal by @Cristiano – his 40th in 2021 and it’s still only October… (and he’s 36!)
Quite comical how some football pundits keep saying he’s a ‘problem’ at United. He’s scored 4 league goals in 6 games already. Messi’s scored none for PSG in 5. pic.twitter.com/ymwH3dDiMl
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 30, 2021
Marcus Rashford: 7/10
The Manchester United No. 10 came on for Ronaldo in the 71st minute and scored the third goal with a fine finish.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
Sent on for Fernandes with fifteen minutes left, Matic helped Manchester United see out the game. He also got the assist for Rashford’s goal.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
Late substitute for Cavani.