Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino apologised to Manchester United for tough tackling by his players during their 2-1 pre-season defeat in Shanghai.
Moussa Sissoko could have been sent off for a challenge on Daniel James, which drew an angry response from United midfielder Scott McTominay and left the former Swansea winger in a heap while players argued among themselves in a heated tussle.
“I apologise to Manchester United on behalf of our players,” said Pochettino, who also saw Dele Alli booked following two heavy challenges, along with United’s Andreas Pereira.
“I was a little bit annoyed about some situations. I was not happy because sometimes you can arrive late and something can happen.
“Sometimes you need to be aggressive and play with passion but the focus is on building our fitness and developing the way we want to play.”
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played down any suggestion he might be unhappy with the treatment his players received in what was supposed to be a “friendly” match, which formed part of the International Champions Cup.
“I have no qualms,” said the Norwegian. “It is a competitive sport and we are preparing for the league. There was no tippy-toe football.
“You went in for a tackle. We didn’t just receive. We gave as well. I thought it was a very good game.”
Teenage striker Angel Gomes scored the winner 10 minutes from time after Lucas Moura’s deflected strike had levelled Anthony Martial’s early opener.
Gomes’ goal completed a remarkable sequence for United. All nine goals scored during their four-match tour of Australia and Asia were either scored or assisted by players from their academy.
It was not all good news for United though as central defender Eric Bailly left the stadium on crutches after suffering a knee injury during the second half.
He seemed to slip, under no contact, while attempting to track and block Son Heung-min’s run into the box and received treatment before being taken off on a stretcher.
“It is never nice when you get an injury,” said Solskjaer. “We are not sure how bad it is. Eric will have scans in Manchester and we hope for the best.”
Martial a star reborn?
United forward Anthony Martial looks a player reborn on this trip.
From being a player who some suspected would not respond to Solskjaer’s harder pre-season training regime, the France international has been electric at times.
With Romelu Lukaku’s intended move to Inter Milan dragging on, leaving the Belgian in limbo and not playing, Martial and Marcus Rashford have filled the central striking role.
Martial in particular has been a more consistent threat in that position than he has tended to be out wide.
He almost scored early in the contest, his curling shot bouncing out off the inside of Paulo Gazzaniga’s far post.
Martial’s goal required a large degree of good fortune as his shot went through the legs of Gazzaniga, who will have been disappointed to concede at his near post after Pereira had exchanged passes with Mason Greenwood before setting up the shooting chance.
It put him level with Rashford and Greenwood as the club’s highest scorer on their four-match trip to Australia and Asia, a trip which has provided four victories.
Son a continent’s hero
Tottenham striker Son Heung-min might be South Korean but he is evidently a hero across all of Asia.
Pochettino described him as an “icon” prior to kick-off and compared his level of popularity to David Beckham.
And the Spurs striker didn’t disappoint when he came on as a second-half substitute, with a performance that was easily the best from a player in white, coming close on a couple of occasions.
Even when he did shoot well wide, the crowd went wild – though team-mate Moura was frustrated he wasn’t played in.
Moura has been the one player in form – scoring against both Juventus on Sunday and United tonight, suggesting he is over the disappointment of missing out on a starting place in last season’s Champions League final.
In midfield, there was a first start for record signing Tanguy Ndombele. He showed moments of quality, including a positive run into the box in the opening stages, but it was a quiet evening for him after he provided the assist for Moura’s goal on Sunday in the win over Juventus with his first touch of the game.
At just 17, Troy Parrott put in another promising display, providing Alli with a chance after 10 minutes before a neat flick into the box helped him link up with Harry Kane.
United fly straight home after the game and will play Solskjaer’s former club Kristiansund on Tuesday, while Tottenham leave China on Friday and are next in action against Real Madrid in the Audi Cup in Munich, also on Tuesday.