Man Utd 0-0 Tottenham (aet)
Man Utd win 4-1 on penalties
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer at Wembley
Manchester United completed phase two of their attempt to win an historic quintuple as they beat Spurs on penalties in the Carling Cup final.
United, with the Club World Cup already won, emerged victorious from another shoot-out after an encounter low on quality finished goalless after extra-time.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster, given a Wembley opportunity as manager Sir Alex Ferguson rested Edwin van der Sar, was United’s hero with a stunning save from Aaron Lennon in normal time.
Foster distinguished himself with a superb save from Jamie O’Hara’s spot-kick, and when substitute David Bentley missed, Spurs’ fate was sealed as Anderson confirmed United’s victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo struck an upright seconds from the end of normal time as both defences dominated a final in which clear-cut opportunities were at a premium.
Ryan Giggs, Carlos Tevez, Ronaldo and Anderson were successful for United from the spot in the shoot-out, but only Vedran Corluka scored for Spurs.
Keeper Foster, 25, whose fledgling career has been dogged by injury, will have hugely impressed watching England coach Fabio Capello – who is not exactly blessed with quality keepers as he plans for next year’s World Cup.
There was to be no repeat of Spurs’ win against Chelsea in last year’s final , with boss Harry Redknapp also denied another Wembley win after lifting the FA Cup with Portsmouth last season.
It capped an almost perfect weekend for United, with their position at the top of the Premier League strengthened after Liverpool’s defeat at Middlesbrough and another piece of silverware on its way to Old Trafford.
Ferguson will now turn his attention back to winning the title once more and progressing in the Champions League and FA Cup.
This was not United at their vintage best, with too much below-par passing, but once again they showed that winning mentality when it mattered and when the pressure was at its most intense.
Ferguson kept to his promise to maintain faith with youngsters Darron Gibson, Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans – but his hopes of calling on Wayne Rooney were dashed after the England striker was ruled out by a virus.
Spurs counterpart Redknapp was spared a selection dilemma when Jonathan Woodgate was ruled out by an Achilles tendon injury, allowing Michael Dawson to partner Ledley King in defence.
Gibson almost made a stunning early impact with a rising 25-yard drive that sailed just over the angle of post and bar with Heurelho Gomes beaten.
Keeper Gomes was called into action again after 15 minutes when he dived low at the near post to turn away Nani’s effort as United dominated the opening skirmishes.
Aaron Lennon’s pace offered Spurs plenty of hope, and it needed a timely intervention from Ferdinand to clear his cross after Corluka played him in with a pass inside Patrice Evra.
In an enterprising opening, Rio Ferdinand’s dipping volley landed just over the bar with Gomes again struggling to make the save.
As the early life went out of the final, Spurs were able to establish a foothold and create a series of promising openings down the flanks, only to fail to find the decisive final ball.
Spurs had successfully kept Ronaldo at arm’s length, while youngster Welbeck was having a tough time making an impact in the face of the physical presence of Dawson and King.
Indeed, it only took Ferguson only 10 minutes after the break to decide to remove Welbeck and introduce Anderson into midfield.
And United came within inches of breaking the deadlock on the hour when Tevez was just off target as he tried to divert Evans’ shot past Gomes.
Ronaldo’s frustration was plain to see when he was booked for diving by referee Chris Foy in the 66th minute as he tumbled in a collision with Spurs captain King just inside the area – a decision that was a desperately close call.
Ronaldo thought he should have had a second-half penalty
Foster justified his inclusion with a stunning save from Lennon after 70 minutes after Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cross found him in space 12 yards out.
Foster’s opposite number Gomes had been well protected, but he was called in to action to collect a shot from Anderson at the second attempt.
John O’Shea, who had been fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a tackle on Luka Modric that went unpunished, was replaced by Nemanja Vidic as Ferguson stiffened up United’s central defence.
Ronaldo almost won the cup for United in the dying seconds of stoppage time when he cut inside and lashed in a shot that bounced off the upright with Nani unable to turn in the rebound.
It meant extra time – and the inevitable introduction of Ryan Giggs for the tiring Gibson.
Lennon had been at the heart of most of Spurs’ best moments, but he had run himself to a standstill and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Bentley 10 minutes into extra-time.
As fatigue sent in among both sets of players, it was going to take a mistake or a moment of inspiration to decide the destiny of the cup in the closing stages. Modric almost provided it after 115 minutes with a run into the box that ended with Foster saving well with his legs from Darren Bent.
And Evra almost did likewise at the other end with a shot that was just over the top as Gomes could only look on.
It was the last meaningful action as a final that was high on endeavour but low on moments of genuine quality went to penalties.
Giggs gave United the perfect start in the shoot-out, and Foster set up the win with a fine save from O’Hara’s spot-kick.
Tevez and Corluka exchanged successful penalties, but Bentley sent his wide after Ronaldo had slotted his away.
Anderson stepped forward to complete the formalities and United had achieved the first part of their pursuit of the five major trophies on offer to them this season.
Man Utd: Foster, O’Shea (Vidic 76), Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Ronaldo, Scholes, Gibson (Giggs 91), Nani, Tevez, Welbeck (Anderson 56).
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Park, Possebon, Eckersley.
Booked: O’Shea, Ronaldo, Scholes.
Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon (Bentley 102), Jenas (Bale 98), Zokora, Modric, Bent, Pavlyuchenko (O’Hara 65).
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Huddlestone, Gunter, Taarabt.
Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).