Tottenham maintained their 100% start to the Premier League season and increased the pressure on beleaguered Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho with an emphatic victory at Old Trafford.
Mourinho was hoping United would bounce back from an abysmal display in defeat at Brighton, but Spurs ran out easy winners once Harry Kane and Lucas Moura struck twice in the space of two minutes early in the second half.
United were left to rue Romelu Lukaku’s missed chance when he rounded Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris from Danny Rose’s backpass, but they ended well beaten to make this their worst start to a league season since 1992-93.
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Spurs were simply too good for United after the break and the contest was effectively over once Kane directed in a superb header for his first goal at Old Trafford after 50 minutes and Moura swiftly swept home Christian Eriksen’s perfect pass for the second.
The outstanding Moura raced clear to add the third six minutes from time to make it nine points from nine for Spurs.
Mourinho was a dejected figure amid a sea of empty red seats at the final whistle, having lost two of his opening three Premier League games for the first time in his career.
A chastening, miserable night for Mourinho
United are only three games into the new season so it is very early for alarm bells to be ringing, but there is no escaping the fact this has been a dismal start and this side Mourinho has assembled so expensively looks in no shape to challenge for the title.
The manner – as well as the margin – of this loss only increases the feeling of discontent around Old Trafford since the summer.
Mourinho will feel increasing heat but he can rightly point to the pivotal moment when, with United on top, Lukaku missed that simple chance.
There was no lack of effort from United’s players but there was an element of collapse to their efforts after Spurs struck twice so quickly.
But this is currently a disjointed team, with Mourinho appearing to be scrambling to find a solution to the very obvious problems he faces in central defence.
He utilised midfielder Ander Herrera in a three-man central defensive system alongside the old guard of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling – with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof paying the price for lamentable performances in the loss at Brighton.
It was obvious why Mourinho was desperate to add central defensive reinforcements, but he was also responsible for the acquisition of Bailly and Lindelof at a cost of more than £60m.
He will also be concerned at the complete lack of a response from his players once Spurs delivered that devastating one-two that effectively settled this game in their favour.
Mourinho’s troubles at United will rightly be the subject of so much attention, but this was a magnificent night for Spurs, who looked a force to be reckoned with.
Their players and supporters celebrated this superb victory in the manner that befitted what might just be a landmark night for Pochettino’s team.
It has been a charge regularly levelled at Spurs that they struggle to win games away at their closest title rivals. They put that right in the most emphatic manner possible.
Before this victory, Spurs had won only one of 12 league games against the so-called ‘big six’ since beating Manchester City in February 2016, so this result will surely do wonders for their self-belief as they attempt to take the next step in their search for silverware.
Once they got into their stride, they simply accelerated away from United.
Kane’s magnificent header established the platform, while the pace of Moura – fed brilliantly by Christian Eriksen for his first goal – simply carried too much pace for a leaden-footed United defence.
Spurs, after a slow start, grew in authority, and how did Mourinho and United feel when they saw Toby Alderweireld’s powerful defensive display with contributions of importance throughout? He was linked with United this summer but did not arrive.
In fact, when Alderweireld made a superb sliding challenge in the second half, some United fans turned towards executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in the directors’ box to make their feelings known.
For all the talk of Mourinho and missed transfer targets, it is worth remembering Pochettino did not buy any players this summer and can now reflect on three wins from three games this season.
Man of the match – Lucas Moura (Tottenham)
‘I don’t consider it a difficult time’ – what they said
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho told BBC Sport: “The fans are the best judges in football and they were fantastic to the players.
“I wanted to make sure the fans had from us what they deserve and wanted to be fair to them because they were fantastic. I don’t consider it a difficult time.
“[We were] the best team, the offensive team, the team that pressed hard, that created chances and missed chances, but then from the first corner that Tottenham had they scored one goal and immediately that team was in the game.
“I’m frustrated but I’m happy with the players and the performance. We created more chances today than in the majority of our matches.
“What I was trying to do was to keep their motivation and that’s not easy. Normally when you play well you win it, and that’s what I try not to let go away with the score. One goal comes and everything can change.”
On the United defence: “We worked amazingly well this week but there are things that you can’t resolve.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told BBC Sport: “It is a massive victory for us and I am very proud of the performance.
“It is difficult to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. They were better in the first half but we dominated from then on, and the clean sheet was a bonus.
“It is only the start of the season and we need to be consistent. We need to be realistic but want to keep pushing and building our fitness. A lot of our players have only had three weeks training but we want to build something special.”