Last Gasp Percival Strike Saves Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Manchester United

By Kris Goman

Above: Spurs celebrate Ria Percival’s late leveller against Manchester United. Photo: The Times.

After what feels like a long international break followed by FA Cup matches, we’re finally back to a full weekend of WSL games.

Tottenham and Manchester United are in fourth and fifth places respectively on the table and a win by either would move them into third. That result is not to be however and instead they share the points in a one-all draw that sees Tottenham jump Brighton and Hove Albion to take third place anyway and for the first time, take a history-making point off United.

The match was quite even and the result felt fitting with both spectacular goals scored in stoppage time at the end of each half. You know what they say about the last five minutes being the most dangerous.

Spurs apply early pressure and a good early curling strike by Jessica Naz is punched away by Mary Earps.

Things are dull until around 30 minutes when a Kyah Simon cross goes directly to Earps. A clever pass from Maéva Clemaron to Ria Percival goes to Earps and sees Percival leap over Earps in front of goal to avoid a collision.

Above: Midfield tussle at The Hive between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: The Guardian.

From a throw-in, Alessia Russo turns and shoots. The ball is batted away by Tinja-Riikka Korpela directly to Leah Galton but her shot is deflected by Percival’s outstretched boot, safely over the crossbar. This has been United’s best attack so far in the match.

The resulting corner goes to the far post and ends with a wrestle between Maria Thorisdottir and Rachel Williams that looks like it possibly should have been a penalty but nothing is called.

A cross by Simon eventually gets to Naz who has a crack but is a bit high and a bit wide and goes clear and out to the left.

Katie Zelem takes a free-kick which goes straight into the wall and Ash Neville’s arm. She’s awarded another free-kick at the top of the box.

The wall is established again with Percival laying along the bottom to cover the space left by the jump. It’s a bit of a lacklustre shot though and hits Aoife Manion standing next to the wall and is cleared away.

Two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half,, Russo takes a run into the box, beating Neville and Molly Bartrip and getting a brilliant shot away into the top near corner that’s just over the outstretched arms of Korpela and United take the lead.

Above: Alessia Russo (right) celebrates her stunning goal for Manchester United. Photo: The Guardian

Spurs retaliate immediately but the United defence stands strong. It was a fairly even first half with a moment of brilliance from Russo being the differentiator.

Early in the second half, Ella Toone sets up Kirsty Hanson with a smart pass through the centre but the shot is blocked by Korpela.

Out of the blue, Kit Graham sends a rocket to the goal but Earps is all over it and a precision leap sends the ball over the crossbar in an excellent piece of goalkeeping.

Hannah Blundell gets a yellow card for complaining about who got a throw in and then just before full time Martha Thomas gets a clear shot on goal but it’s just a smidge too high and clears the top post.

Right on 90 minutes Neville takes a left-footed shot on goal but that goes wide too. There’s five minutes of extra time.

A bit of playing around the top of the box by Spurs gives Chioma Ubogagu an opportunity but it’s also wide. Straight back the other end and Russo has a shot on target that’s gathered safely by the keeper.

Four minutes into stoppage time, Kiwi international, Percival takes a free-kick from near the sideline and about 40 meters out not far from the halfway line. As everyone rushes the box, the ball bounces between all the players and Earps, who’s on her line. It bounces over her head and outstretched arms and into the net for one of the goals of the season and the equaliser with less than a minute to go, leaving Earps shaking her head in disbelief.

Above: Wild celebrations from Spurs after Ria Percival’s leveller four minutes into stoppage time. Photo: The Guardian.

United come straight back and a downwards header by Russo is so close but batted up and away by Korpela.

Try as they may, there’s not enough time left to come back and we end with a draw as the whistle blows. The Spurs fans are celebrating like it’s a win.

Teams: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Korpela, Zadorsky, Bartrip, Naz, Cho, Williams, Percival, Graham, Simon, Clemaron, Neville. Subs: Heeps (GK), Morgan, Green (sub 76′), Harrop, Tang, Ale, Addison (sub 81′), Ubogagu (sub 46′), Ayane (sub 76′).

Scorer: Percival 90+4

MANCHESTER UNITED: Earps, Thorisdottir, Mannion, Blundell, Toone, Zelem, Galton, Ladd, Batlle, Hanson, Russo. Subs: Baggaley (GK), Harris, Bøe Risa, Thomas (sub 72′), Fuso, Smith, Jones, Staniforth (sub 72′).

Scorer: Russo 45+2

Referee: Emily Heaslip.

Attendance: 1,200 (Est).

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