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Dempsey’s late goal denies United

Clint Dempsey runs to his team-mates after scoring against ­Manchester United.

Clint Dempsey runs to his team-mates after scoring against ­Manchester United.

Manchester United received a taste of their own medicine as a last-gasp equaliser from Tottenham Hotspur’s Clint Dempsey deprived the Premier League leaders of a valuable win yesterday.

A 1-1 draw in Arctic conditions in north London meant United’s lead over champions Manchester City at the top has been cut to five points with 15 matches remaining.

Third-placed Chelsea’s distant pursuit of the two Manchester clubs was boosted by a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge that helped thaw relations between the fans and interim manager Rafa Benitez.

Late goals have been a trademark of Alex Ferguson’s United title-winning sides down the years but Tottenham turned the tables to salvage a deserved point

Robin van Persie’s 18th league goal of the season midway through the first half looked like being enough for United who, while lacking their normal potency in attack, had two towers of defensive strength in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Keeper David de Gea had also been magnificent for United but his weak punch in stoppage time only went to Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon and his quick pass inside allowed Dempsey to sweep the ball into the net from close-range.

While not denying Spurs deserved something from a match that had looked in jeopardy before kickoff, Ferguson was angry that his side had not been awarded a penalty to make it 2-0 when substitute Wayne Rooney was clipped by Steven Caulker.

“It was a clear penalty kick on Wayne Rooney but in no way was the linesman going to give that,” Ferguson told Sky Sports. “He had a shocking game today and I’m disappointed in his performance.”

United had hardly threatened when Van Persie silenced the home fans in clinical fashion.

Tom Cleverley received the ball on the right after 25 minutes and hoisted a cross to the far post where Van Persie evaded Kyle Walker to crash a header past Hugo Lloris.

Tottenham responded to the setback by dominating possession and testing United’s resolve.

De Gea saved a deflected Bale shot just before halftime with his legs and then denied Dempsey early in the second half.

Half chances

Jermain Defoe squandered a couple of half chances for Spurs and Bale was agonisingly close to a leveller when his right-foot shot whistled past the post.

Ferguson was calmness personified on the touchline as he braved the elements but just when his side appeared to have weathered the storm Dempsey popped up to earn Spurs a point which kept them four points above fifth-placed Everton.

Chelsea remain four points ahead of Tottenham after goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard ensured a 2-1 win over Arsenal.

Mata scored after six minutes, although Arsenal were see-thing at the ref’s failure to award a free-kick in the initial stages of the move.

Lampard made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after 16 minutes after Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny escaped a red card for bringing down Ramires in the area.

Theo Walcott’s superb finish after a pass from Santi Cazorla just before the hour gave Arsenal hope and Chelsea endured a nervy final half hour as the Gunners pressed for an equaliser.

Premier League

Chelsea 2
Mata 6; Lampard 16 pen;
Arsenal 1
Walcott 58;

HT: 2-0. Att: 41,784.

Tottenham 1
Dempsey 90;
Man. United 1
Van Persie 25;

HT: 0-1. Att: 35,956.

  P W D L F A Pts
Man. United 23 18 2 3 57 30 56
Man. City 23 15 6 2 45 19 51
Chelsea 23 13 6 4 47 22 45
Tottenham 23 12 5 6 40 28 41
Everton 22 9 10 3 35 26 37
Arsenal 22 9 7 6 41 26 34
Liverpool 23 9 7 7 40 28 34
West Brom 23 10 4 9 33 32 34
Swansea 23 8 9 6 34 27 33
Stoke City 23 6 11 6 22 27 29
Sunderland 23 7 7 9 27 31 28
West Ham 22 7 6 9 25 28 27
Norwich 23 6 8 9 24 39 26
Fulham 23 6 7 10 33 40 25
Southampton 22 5 7 10 30 40 22
Newcastle 23 5 6 12 28 41 21
Aston Villa 23 4 8 11 19 44 20
Reading 23 4 7 12 28 43 19
Wigan 23 5 4 14 25 43 19
QPR 23 2 9 12 19 37 15

Playing today
Southampton vs Everton - 21.00

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