Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Manchester United were sparked into life by the injustice of seeing Edinson Cavani’s opening goal controversially ruled out as the Red Devils roared back to beat Tottenham 3-1 on Sunday.
United came from behind to win for the ninth time in the league this season as second-half goals from Fred, Cavani and Mason Greenwood cancelled out Son Heung-min’s opener.
However, Solskjaer still took aim at Son for his role in the goal United had ruled out.
Paul Pogba and Cavani combined brilliantly for the Uruguayan to drill the ball low between the legs of Hugo Lloris on 36 minutes.
But a VAR review by referee Chris Kavanagh resulted in a Tottenham free-kick for a foul by Scott McTominay on Son in the build-up.
The Scottish international made minimal contact with Son’s face as he swatted the South Korean aside.
“The game is absolutely gone if that’s a clear and obvious error,” said Solskjaer. “It was a perfectly good goal. I think that kickstarted us, the performance from then till the end of the game was so much better.
“We shouldn’t be conned. I have to say, if my son stays down like this for three minutes and needs his 10 mates to help him up, he won’t get any food. We weren’t (conned), the referee was.”
Victory for United avenged Tottenham’s stunning 6-1 win when the sides last met at Old Trafford in October and kept alive their slim title hopes by cutting the gap on local rivals Manchester City to 11 points.
Even if they do not manage to reel in City in their final seven games of the campaign, United opened up a nine-point cushion over fifth-placed Chelsea in the battle for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Tottenham’s hopes of a return to Europe’s premier club competition are dwindling fast as they are now six points adrift of West Ham in fourth and could slip to eighth if Everton win at Brighton on Monday.
“We needed points from the game and we didn’t get them,” said Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who again saw his side fail to build on taking the lead.
Tottenham have now lost 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season.
By contrast, United have picked up 28 points after falling behind.
“It’s a concern. I know some of the reasons but it is very hard for me to be new with you (the media),” added Mourinho, who last week explained the difference between this Spurs side and the more ruthless teams he has managed in the past as “same coach, different players.”
United’s fury at seeing Cavani’s strike ruled out, was compounded four minutes later when Son had bounced back up to give Tottenham the lead.
Harry Kane freed Lucas Moura in on goal and the Brazilian unselfishly squared for Son to slot home.
However, Solskjaer’s men fuelled their anger to produce another second-half fightback.
A fine team move saw Fred feed Cavani and, after Lloris saved his initial effort, the Brazilian fired into the roof of the net for just his fourth goal in three seasons since joining from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Cavani is reportedly keen to return to South America despite having the option to extend his stay in Manchester for another season.
The 34-year-old showed he has lost none of his predatory instincts as he stooped to power home Greenwood’s cross 11 minutes from time.
“Edi showed why he is a number nine. We need to use him correctly,” said Solskjaer. “If he decides it is just this season, we have been very fortunate to have him.”
Solskjaer has previously praised the impact Cavani has also had on his young strikers.
Greenwood, 19, struggled to match the impact he had last season for most of the campaign, but has returned to form in recent weeks and rounded off the scoring by smashing past Lloris at his near post in stoppage time.