Bruno Fernandes converted a late penalty won by Paul Pogba to secure Manchester United a 1-1 draw away at top-four rivals Tottenham on Saturday (AEST).
Steve Bergwijn's 27th-minute opener appeared set to give Jose Mourinho a much-needed victory over his former employers, with Spurs aiming to make a late charge to qualify for next season's Champions League.
However, United were rewarded for an improved second-half display with a deserved equaliser, Pogba - on as a substitute as he returned after a long injury lay-off - producing a burst into the box that tempted a rash challenge from Eric Dier.
Fernandes showed excellent composure to fire home from 12 yards out, sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way, as the visitors extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games.
It appeared the Portuguese would have the chance to score again from the spot when referee Jonathan Moss adjudged he had been fouled by Dier in the 90th minute, but a VAR check reversed the on-field call.
Still, United's equaliser denied their old boss from closing the gap in the Premier League table, meaning the fifth-placed Red Devils remain four points clear of Spurs.
Marcus Rashford – who had raised his right fist skywards as he took a knee along with the rest of the players in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to kick-off – was denied a goal on his comeback during a tepid first half following the coronavirus-enforced break, his snap shot kept out by Lloris' left foot.
Not long after the reprieve, Spurs opened the scoring at the other end thanks to a player of their own back in action again.
Bergwijn – unavailable prior to the break due to an ankle injury - glided beyond Harry Maguire before unleashing a firm right-footed shot that David de Gea failed to keep out, the ball striking the goalkeeper and going up into the net.
De Gea did better when turning Son Heung-min's header over before the break yet was largely a spectator for the rest of proceedings, a tiring Spurs team pinned back as they attempted to preserve their narrow lead.
Lloris spectacularly denied fellow Frenchman Anthony Martial but was finally beaten in the 81st minute, Fernandes tucking away the opportunity to secure a point.
What does it mean? Drawing the positives
Knocked out of the FA Cup and the Champions League prior to the interruption in the campaign, Spurs have now gone seven games without a win, albeit this was an improved display.
Mourinho appeared set for the kind of grind-it-out success he built his reputation on. Instead, United's strength in depth made a difference to the outcome, with a point apiece good news for fourth-placed Chelsea, who travel to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Fernandes shows his class again
Rashford was the player in focus, having already enjoyed a high-profile success off the field when successfully lobbying for the extension of the food voucher scheme offered to vulnerable school children. However, Fernandes again caught the eye. He has now been involved in six goals, scoring three, in the Premier League since his arrival in January.
Dave saves? Perhaps not
De Gea's failure to deal with Bergwijn's right-footed drive led to a stinging assessment from Roy Keane. Summarising for Sky Sports, the former United skipper said of the Spaniard: "He is the most overrated goalkeeper I have seen in a long time." His position as number one at the club will no doubt come into question again, particularly with Dean Henderson impressing while on loan at Sheffield United.
Key Opta facts
- Spurs are winless in seven games in all competitions (D3 L4), their worst run since November 2016 (also seven without a win).
- Manchester United are unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions (W8 D4), scoring 30 goals and conceding just three in that run.
- Steven Bergwijn became only the second player to score in his first three home Premier League appearances for Spurs, after Rafael van der Vaart in 2010.
- Since the start of last season, Manchester United have both taken (23) and scored (16) more penalties than any other Premier League side.
- Jose Mourinho has won none of his last six matches against his former clubs in all competitions (D2 L4), taking just one point from four Premier League matches against Chelsea and United this season (D1 L3).
Spurs have home advantage again on Tuesday when they welcome West Ham. As for United, they are in action the following day, hosting another team with top-four hopes in Sheffield United.