Manchester United inflicted further damage on Tottenham’s hopes of making the Premier League’s top four as they came from behind to secure a fully deserved victory.
Spurs went into this game knowing victory would keep them in touch with the Champions League places but another colourless performance led to what could be an expensive defeat.
United’s sense of injustice was increased when Son put Spurs ahead before the break but the visitors recovered impressively for a win that leaves them 11 points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand.
Fred was involved in the build-up and conclusion of the equaliser after 57 minutes, pouncing after Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris had saved well from Cavani.
And Cavani finally got the goal his superb movement and constant menace deserved with 11 minutes left when he launched himself to head beyond Lloris from substitute Mason Greenwood’s cross. Greenwood completed the formalities with virtually the last kick of the game as he provided a finish that was too powerful for Lloris at his near post.
Solskjaer delight as Man Utd fire back
Manchester United ended the first half feeling as if the world was against them, wounded by the decision to rule out Cavani’s goal and then hit by Son’s opener.
And yet, as they have done so often this season, they bounced back from going behind to win and did so in very satisfying fashion for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Keeper Dean Henderson, now seemingly first choice ahead of David de Gea, made a couple of saves with his legs and Cavani was fortunate when a header bounced off his own post but United were by far the better team and had plenty of chances of their own at the other end.
The Uruguayan may be 34 and surrounded by speculation that he could leave Old Trafford at the end of the season but the timeless instincts of the great striker remains. He was a permanent threat, fully meriting the goal that gave United the lead.
Pogba and Fred were also outstanding contributors in midfield for United, who have now opened up a seven-point gap between themselves and Leicester City, who lost at West Ham United, in third.
United are an enigmatic side, clearly full of talent and danger and yet often not at their best, but no-one could deny their quality here and no-one could begrudge them a very fine victory.
Spurs get what they deserved: nothing
Greenwood’s late goal may have extended Manchester United’s victory margin more than Spurs manager Jose Mourinho would feel was justified but he can have no serious complaints about the final outcome.
Spurs led at the interval but it was United who came out after the break with real purpose and intent, Fred’s equaliser the inevitable result of the pressure that built up.
For a side containing the attacking threat of Son and Harry Kane, Spurs lie dormant for long periods, dragged down by the stodgy gameplan that seems far too conservative for a team boasting two such elite attackers.
Spurs – who won the reverse meeting 6-1 in October – had their moments in the second half but they were fleeting and there was never a sense they were taking control. This loss leaves them six points behind fourth-placed West Ham in seventh and they will have to improve markedly if they are to turn their top-four aspirations into reality.