AN own goal by Kyle Walker gave Manchester United their first points of the new Premier League season with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham.
Walker prodded the ball into his own net in the 22nd minute as the Spurs defender tried to deny United captain Wayne Rooney an easy scoring opportunity at a sunlit Old Trafford.
It was one of very few chances in a scrappy match, with Spurs’ hopes of an equaliser coming mainly in the closing minutes with two shots from attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen.
Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal said: “It was a very difficult game because you have seen two teams that want to press, so every player at the ball had a very small time to play. We didn’t keep the ball too much but we created a few chances.”
However, Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino made no secret of his feelings about the game’s turning point after 22 minutes.
He said: “Very frustrated, disappointed, because until this moment we played much better, we created some chances and we dominated the game. And with one mistake, we give the opportunity to score.”
United started with four new players, Sergio Romero taking over in goal after Van Gaal decided that Real Madrid target David de Gea was not in the right frame of mind to play.
Full-back Matteo Darmain, along with midfielders Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay all made convincing debuts and Romero improved after some early signs of nerves.
Tottenham made by far the better start and could easily have been ahead after five minutes. Striker Harry Kane sent a clever chip over the United defence but Eriksen could only send his cushioned volley over the bar from close range.
Spurs were repeatedly caught offside but still looked the most likely team to score before gifting the opener.
The visitors only had themselves to blame after a sloppy pass by Nabil Bentaleb gave the ball away in midfield. Ashley Young sped down the right before crossing for the unmarked Rooney, who just had keeper Michel Vorm to beat.
As the United striker hesitated, Walker arrived just in time to spear the ball away from Rooney’s feet, past a despairing Vorm and into the corner of the Spurs net. The goal gave a United a lift and Van Gaal’s side began to move the ball around with more assurance.
Another of United’s new signings, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, pictured, replaced Michael Carrick on the hour mark of what was turning into a scrappy encounter.
Tottenham waited until the final ten minutes before pushing with any real conviction for an equaliser.
United defender Chris Smalling made a superb tackle to snuff out Nacer Chadli and Eriksen tried his luck with an angled drive that drew a good save from Romero.
Eriksen followed up by rifling in a powerful shot from outside the area in the 89th minute, but Romero was quick to block.
The final whistle came as a relief for United fans, who saw their club lose 2-1 at home to Swansea on the opening day last season.
Rooney said: “The most important thing today was the victory. After what happened last season, getting off to a bad start at home – we had a bad run of results after that – today was all about the three points.”