Tottenham Hotspur’s striker Clint Dempsey of the US (left) celebrates after scoring his late goal during the English Premier League match against Manchester United at White Hart Lane in London yesterday.
LONDON: Clint Dempsey’s equaliser in the final minute of stoppage-time denied Premier League leaders Manchester United victory as Tottenham Hotspur forced a 1-1 draw at a snowy White Hart Lane yesterday.
The result meant United’s advantage at the top of the table over second-placed reigning champions Manchester City was reduced to five points after they had started the weekend seven in front of their local rivals.
It looked as if Robin van Persie’s 18th league goal of the season, a 25th-minute header from Tom Cleverley’s cross, was going to secure all three points for United in a fixture that survived a pre-match pitch inspection.
But in the third and final minute of stoppage time, Spurs pumped the ball forward.
United keeper David de Gea, who had previously made several fine saves, could only punch weakly as the ball came into the box and, from Aaron Lennon’s cross, United States striker Dempsey rescued a point for the hosts.
Afterwards United manager Alex Ferguson hit out at a linesman for not giving a penalty after Wayne Rooney went to ground in the box.
“It was a clear penalty-kick on Wayne Rooney but in no way was the the linesman going to give that,” Ferguson told the BBC.
“He gave them (Tottenham) everything else. We have not had a good record with this linesman, against Chelsea a few years ago he gave onside to Didier Drogba, who was three yards offside, you remember those things.
Ferguson added: “We did so well at everything and we kept heading it out, the disappointment is not finishing them off. We had a lot of opportunities on the counter-attack but our final ball let us down.”
Meanwhile Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas said the draw would prove a real morale-booster for his team. “
We wanted to win, but it was an important point in the end due to the form United are in. A point can give us a lot of confidence,” he said.
Spurs are now just four points adrift of Chelsea after their London rivals beat Arsenal 2-1 earlier yesterday.
Juan Mata gave Chelsea a sixth minute lead before Frank Lampard, whose Chelsea future remains uncertain, made it 2-0 from the penalty spot 10 minutes later after Ramires was brought down by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
But Theo Walcott, fresh from signing a new contract in midweek, brought Arsenal back into the match in the 58th minute when he outpaced Branislav Ivanovic and then shot powerfully past Petr Cech.
Arsenal pressed for an equaliser but European champions Chelsea clung on for only their second home league win under interim manager Rafael Benitez.
The Spaniard, repeatedly jeered by Chelsea supporters since replacing sacked fans’ favourite Roberto di Matteo, said victory had been coming.
“We have been doing well, creating chances in all our games,” Benitez told Sky Sports. “In the games we didn’t win we deserved to win. It was just a matter of time until we had a performance like this.”
Yesterday’s result saw Chelsea remain third and Arsenal, who have won only one of their last five matches, stay sixth in the league standings. AFP