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Soccer-Rooney rescues United as champions battle to draw at Spurs

Reuters

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By Martyn Herman

LONDON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Wayne Rooney equalised twice as Manchester United stretched their unbeaten run to 12 matches with a lively 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday.

With both sides anxious to make up ground on the top four, Tottenham had most to feel frustrated about as they failed to completely capitalise on a much-improved display after last week's 6-0 mauling at Manchester City.

Kyle Walker's fierce free kick gave them an 18th minute lead only for Rooney to equalise with poacher's goal after Walker went from hero to zero with a terrible error.

A spectacular strike by Sandro restored the home team's lead after the interval before a rash moment by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris handed Rooney the chance to level from the penalty spot.

It was a point that left United nine points behind leaders Arsenal in eighth place, one place above Spurs, and despite not losing since September, manager David Moyes was frustrated.

"But for a minute at Cardiff last week it would have been a great week for us as Tottenham is not an easy game and they had their pride to restore today, which they did with their performance," Moyes told reporters.

"But United have to win. I'm concerned that we are not closer to the top but it's a long season and I still feel we have room to progress. It's a busy period coming up and we want to be on the shirt tails of (the leading teams) going into the end of the year, and at the start of next year.

"Undoubtedly Arsenal have been very consistent and they have got off to a great start but there will be a lot of teams now looking to chase them down and hopefully we are one of them."

But for the form of Rooney, United would have been staring at a damaging defeat as they flattered to deceive at times.

"We deserved more I think," Tottenham's under-pressure manager Andre Villas-Boas told reporters in a frosty press conference in which he accused some members of the media of "disrespect" following the defeat by City.

"The penalty could have been another call. But it was a good response from the defeat at City, not perfect because we wanted to win, but it keeps us in touch."

Tottenham had not beaten United in 12 previous home attempts but they began the game looking determined to improve that dismal statistic and get their season back on track.

With Villas-Boas pacing around his technical area from the first minute they began at a high tempo with Walker and Aaron Lennon impressive down the right flank.

Lennon cut in to test keeper David de Gea with a low shot after 10 minutes.

CROWDED OUT

Slow-starting United, with Shinji Kagawa given a starting berth in central midfield, were nearly gifted a head start when Vlad Chiriches was robbed by Rooney who exchanged passes with Antonio Valencia but then found himself crowded out.

Tottenham deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute when Jonny Evans committed a clumsy foul on the edge of area and Walker drilled his free kick under United's four-man wall who had jumped in unison.

The home side were suddenly sweeping forward with relish and Roberto Soldado wasted a great chance being set free by Paulinho and De Gea saved well from Lennon as United wobbled.

Tottenham's momentum was then halted by a terrible mistake from Walker, the England right back diverting the ball across his own area for Rooney to smash United level after 32 minutes.

The Londoners began the second half full of purpose and went back in front with an unstoppable shot from Brazil midfielder Sandro after 54 minutes.

However, United were given another helping hand three minutes later, Lloris needlessly racing off his line to clip Danny Welbeck's ankle as he veered away from goal.

Rooney made no mistake from the penalty spot, hammering his eighth league goal of the season past Lloris.

"Wayne was very good today," Moyes, who was again without Robin van Persie, said. "He can score great goals but that first one was a real sniffer's goal." (Editing by Tony Jimenez and Toby Davis)

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