SIR ALEX FERGUSON was left ruing a decision not to award his Manchester United side a penalty as they conceded an injury-time equaliser at Tottenham.
The visitors were leading 1-0 courtesy of a Robin van Persie header, his 18th Premier League goal of the season, when substitute Wayne Rooney went down under a challenge from Steven Caulker inside the box.
Referee Chris Foy declined to award a penalty and Spurs, who dominated the second half, eventually scored a dramatic 92nd-minute equaliser through Clint Dempsey.
United therefore had to settle for a five-point lead over champions Manchester City at the top of the table, and Ferguson was quick to direct his anger at assistant referee Simon Beck.
‘‘It was a clear penalty,’’ he said. ‘‘It was definitely a penalty. He has put his leg right in there.
‘‘The linesman is facing it, I thought he had a very poor game, the linesman. I thought he was disappointing.
‘‘We have got that history with him. He never gave offside with (Chelsea striker Didier) Drogba at Old Trafford when he was three yards offside.
Everyone remembers that, I certainly do.’’ The incident with Drogba came in a 2-1 win for Chelsea at Old Trafford in April 2010 and Ferguson felt his side had been let down again, with Rooney seemingly fouled only moments after replacing Shinji Kagawa.
‘‘For me it was a poor performance from him, why he never gave a penalty I don’t know,’’ Ferguson added.
‘‘I think he had a shocking game, he’s had a bad game and we never got anything from that side of the pitch.’’ Spurs boss Andre Villas- Boas was unsure whether Caulker had caught Rooney, but did not want the argument to overshadow a tremendous performance and hardfought point for his side.
‘‘Obviously it is going to be debated and debated and I hope it doesn’t mar the game,’’ he said.
‘‘During the game we got most of the decisions against us. I prefer to look at this game on my view and United prefer to look at it on their view.
‘‘We take our boost of confidence and the debate is going to be whether it was a penalty because that is controversy and it sells better, but we shouldn’t mar the game and the quality of the game played in these difficult conditions.
‘‘Fortunately we got a point, I think it is credit for the game that we had. We were the best team and created the best chances.
‘‘I think it was probably the worst United game in terms of opportunities, with them having only four.
“It is a pity we couldn’t win but I’m extremely happy with the draw obviously.’’ As for the title race, Villas- Boas still thinks it is too close to call.
‘‘It is very tight between them,’’ he said. ‘‘They are two strong teams with top quality squads and individuals.
“I think it is for either of the Manchester teams as the distance to third place is quite important.
‘‘I’m not sure (who will win the league) but United have the experience that can help them.’’ Ferguson believes his side have a good record against the bigger teams in the league and was always keen to play the game at White Hart Lane, despite snow falling throughout the day.
‘‘We have been to all the top teams’ grounds so far,’’ he said.
‘‘We just have Arsenal left and we think we can be pleased with the outcome of them all.
‘‘We have got a healthy points total from them and it’s another game out of the road.
‘‘I wanted the game to go ahead today because we don’t want a backlog and as it was, it proved I was right.’