Ole Gunnar Solskjaer passed his first big test as Manchester United’s interim manager with flying colours on Sunday evening by beating third-placed Tottenham Hotspur in a tough away match.
Marcus Rashford scored the only goal while goalkeeper David de Gea repelled waves of attacks to ensure United won at Wembley on Sunday for their sixth consecutive victory under Solskjaer and their first away victory over Spurs since 2012.
“That’s the most difficult game, the hardest we have had to work for a result (under Solskjaer) but we put the work in,” Rashford told Sky Sports.
“It doesn’t matter, we got the points.”
Tottenham was considered United’s first quality opponent in the English Premier League since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho last month and his players were up for the challenge.
Rashford struck just before half-time and De Gea made 11 saves after the break under constant Tottenham pressure.
“Results-wise, to come away here and beat Tottenham is fantastic,” Solskjaer said.
“We hung on in the second half and we never got to grips with it when they changed the system, but you are allowed to have a good goalkeeper.”
The win lifts United level on points with fifth-placed Arsenal, while Tottenham remains seven points ahead of them in third.
Both sides were lively in the first half, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane having the opening goal disallowed by the offside flag.
Rashford then controlled a long pass from Paul Pogba in his stride and fired past Hugo Lloris in the 44th minute.
Spurs started the second half strongly with Kane and Dele Alli both forcing saves from de Gea, while Lloris tipped Pogba’s shot over the bar at the other end.
Kane headed straight at de Gea, who then sandwiched a foot save against Toby Alderweireld with a pair of denials of Alli.
Kane was frustrated once again in the 87th minute by de Gea’s boot before Fernando Llorente sent Tottenham’s final chance right in the keeper’s arms moments later.
“David de Gea has pulled off three or four brilliant saves, and on another day, they go in,” Spurs defender Ben Davies said.
“The boys up front are slotting them away most weeks, but today it wasn’t their day.”
Everton picked up a much-need league win by beating Bournemouth 2-0 in the day’s earlier match.
Second-half goals from Kurt Zouma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Toffees just their second league win in eight games.
It also ended their four-match winless run in the league at Goodison Park.
“It’s a huge win,” said defender Michael Keane.
“We have obviously had a few difficult results at home over Christmas so we are pleased to keep a clean sheet.
“It was a slow start but we grew into the game and the result is what we needed.”
Everton climbs up to 10th in the table while Bournemouth remains 12th despite their sixth straight away league defeat.
Second-placed Manchester City will look to close within four points of Liverpool when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers today.