Nani seals Man United victory
London - A controversial late goal from Nani helped Manchester United secure a 2-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday that kept Sir Alex Ferguson's side in touch with leaders Chelsea.
United were holding on in the closing stages at Old Trafford after Nemanja Vidic's first half header before Nani sealed the points with a bizarre strike that infuriated Tottenham.
Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had put the ball on the ground thinking his side had been awarded a free kick, but Nani was lurking in the penalty area and cheekily tapped home.
Gomes protested but referee Mark Clattenburg allowed the goal to stand despite his assistant referee appearing to raise a flag to rule it out.
United were well short of their best but Nani's crazy goal did enough to see off a Tottenham team that has now failed to defeat Ferguson's side in 23 attempts.
The match started against the backdrop of more protests against the owners of United, with supporters desperate to depose the Glazer family marching in numbers before kick off.
There were reports of some bottles being thrown and an attempt to smash the doors to the club's Megastore.
Inside Old Trafford, United had a job to do after Chelsea's victory at Blackburn earlier in the day left Ferguson's side eight points adrift of the Premier League summit.
In a frantic start, both sides rattled the woodwork with Park Ji Sung hitting the post as early as the second minute before Nani forced a save from Gomes as United looked to make an early breakthrough.
Old Trafford has proved a graveyard for Tottenham in recent years. The last time they won at the venue, in December 1989, Gareth Bale, who has been in outstanding form for Harry Redknapp's side this season, was just five months old.
Yet the visitors went close to stunning the hosts thanks to a piece of genius by Rafael van der Vaart.
The influential Dutchman took advantage of a slip by Vidic to run to the edge of the area before hitting a left foot shot that clattered the far post.
Despite the absence of Wayne Rooney, sat in the main stand nursing his ankle injury, United continued to carve out the better chances.
Park once again went close after former Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov threaded him in before Darren Fletcher forced another save from Gomes.
Tottenham had fallen behind in seven of their previous eight games.
And they were once again were left in an all too familiar position when Vidic pounced after Younes Kaboul had been booked for sliding through Javier Hernandez in the 30th minute.
From the free-kick, Nani whipped in a teasing cross for Vidic to direct a powerful header beyond Gomes.
Tottenham produced a quick-fire response, Luka Modric letting fly from 25-yards only for Edwin van der Sar, who turned 40 on the eve of the game, to show his class.
United's Javier Hernandez had a quiet opening 45 minutes and it was not until the second half that the Mexican showed flashes of his brilliance.
He almost carved open the Tottenham defence after a one-two with Park to get free in the box, but lost his composure and blazed wide.
Robbie Keane, back in the Spurs starting line up in place of Peter Crouch, struggled on his own in attack.
So many times the visitors got themselves into promising positions. But their delivery and final touch badly let them down.
Then the game ended amid extraordinary scenes as Nani took advantage of confusion between Gomes and Clattenburg to put the result beyond doubt.