TWO-GOAL hero Darron Gibson insisted Manchester United’s youngsters did not have anything to prove when they took to the field against Tottenham last night.
Gibson led the charge of the youth brigade as United marched into the Carling Cup semi-finals.
The second string had come in for criticism after a Champions League defeat by Besiktas last week but manager Alex Ferguson kept faith with them for last night’s tie.
And it paid off as Gibson netted twice in a 2-0 success over Spurs at Old Trafford.
The Ireland international said: “It was a good team performance following last week. We bounced back and the young lads did well.
“We didn’t go out to try and prove anything. Sometimes you have bad days and today was a good day.”
Ferguson praised Gibson’s performance and revealed the youngsters will get another chance in the semi-finals.
“He did well,” said the Scotsman. “The second goal particularly, the movement and working off the ball was good and a terrific finish.
“Gibson and Anderson did very well in the middle of the park. We’re two games away from Wembley, that’s good. We’ll enjoy the semi-final and these lads will play again.”
Gary Neville, meanwhile, believes the next generation are getting their chance on merit.
“Gibbo scored two great goals and that makes it routine for you,” he said. “They’re playing for their countries and they deserve their place. They can hold their own. They’re quality.”
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp admitted his side, who were beaten by United on penalties in last season’s final, had let a golden chance slip through their fingers.
And he felt a lack of atmosphere did his team no favours, admitting: “I’m very disappointed. You’re never going to get a better opportunity than we did tonight.
“We’ve been playing so well recently but there was no atmosphere tonight.
“It was played at a lethargic pace; we didn’t make a tackle in the first half. It was like a practice match, it just never got going.”
Tottenham travelled north hopeful of recording their first Old Trafford victory since 1989 and avenging their shoot-out defeat by Ferguson’s men in last season’s final.
But, once Gibson had fired home the first of a brilliant brace, Spurs never looked like ending their hoodoo.
Tottenham did create chances. But every time Robbie Keane or Jermain Defoe got a sight of goal, a red shirt was in the way, usually Nemanja Vidic but also Ritchie De Laet, a young Belgian recruited from Stoke on the advice of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who proved more than David Bentley’s equal at left-back.
That De Laet should impress against an England international would have come as no surprise to Ferguson, who launched an impassioned pre-match defence of his youngsters, not for the first time insinuating the people who pontificate about such matters do not know what they are talking about.
Danny Welbeck’s languid style proved difficult for Tottenham to subdue, Gabriel Obertan was a real menace on the right and Anderson dictated play from central midfield.
Anderson was accompanied in that task by Gibson, who as recently as three years ago was being championed by his manager for a long international career with Northern Ireland without Ferguson being fully aware of the Derry-born 22-year-old’s background.
Only 16 minutes were on the clock when Anderson cut in from the left flank and rolled a pass invitingly into Gibson’s path 25 yards out.
The first-time shot was lethal, flying like an arrow in the top corner, giving Heurelho Gomes not a chance of keeping it out.
Gibson’s second was another gem.
Park Ji-sung started the move, Berbatov took it on. Then Gibson got involved, playing a smart one-two with Welbeck before curling another first-time shot into the opposite corner, Gomes comprehensively beaten once more.
There might have been 51 minutes to play but, effectively, the tie was over.
If Bentley had been able to get the better of Tomasz Kuszczak from close range or steered a far-post header into the net, rather than hit the side of it, Spurs might have had the experience required to complete the comeback.
But they did not, and by the time Peter Crouch failed to find the target from inside the six-yard box in stoppage time, it was too late to matter anyway, sending Redknapp back to the drawing board and allowing Ferguson to enjoy another emphatic success in that personal duel with his inquisitors.
MAN UTD: Kuszczak, Neville, Brown, Vidic, De Laet, Park, Gibson, Anderson (Tosic 82), Obertan (Carrick 62), Welbeck, Berbatov (Macheda 62).
TOTTENHAM: Gomes, Hutton, Bassong, Dawson, Bale, Lennon, Jenas, Palacios (Huddlestone 46), Bentley, Defoe, Keane (Crouch 66).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
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