Clint Dempsey struck deep into injury time as Tottenham held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.
Robin van Persie's 18th Premier League goal of the season had looked to be enough for United to secure an undeserved victory as he converted with an expert header after 25 minutes, but Dempsey pounced on a cross from the excellent Aaron Lennon after two added minutes to provide a compelling conclusion to a game that only went ahead following a late pitch inspection.
As the snow tipped down in North London the United goal was subjected to a deluge of attacks from the home side, but Tottenham's white storm seemed to have brought little reward before Dempsey finally exploited a fatal moment of weakness from David De Gea, whose punch found its way to Lennon.
United now lead Manchester City by only five points at the top of the table, while the draw takes Spurs seven clear of Arsenal in fourth, having played a game more than their own local rivals.
United saw fit to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench after he started the FA Cup replay against West Ham in midweek, with Sir Alex Ferguson also bringing Phil Jones into midfield as his team lined up in a 4-3-3 against a Spurs side deployed in a 4-2-3-1, with a serious injury to Sandro meaning Scott Parker was asked to anchor the midfield in his first start of the Premier League season.
Spurs - on a run of just one defeat in 10 - started brightly enough against the league leaders. After 14 minutes Aaron Lennon drifted in menacingly from the right to rifle in a low effort that De Gea repelled into the path of Jermain Defoe, though the striker was offside when firing at the keeper.
Though United proved effective in breaking up Tottenham attacks they created only two chances of note themselves in a rather sterile first half. But when you possess the most lethal striker in English football, sometimes that is all you need.
Shinji Kagawa and Michael Carrick combined before finding Danny Welbeck, who drifted into a central area from the left and spread the ball wide to the right to find Tom Cleverley. The young midfielder's cross was fantastic - deep and hard - and allowed Van Persie to peel off at the back post and direct a firm header out of the reach of Hugo Lloris at his near post.
Tottenham suffered from United's asphyxiation at the back but Defoe tested De Gea with a smart shot from a tight angle and the Spanish keeper then blocked from a deflected drive from Gareth Bale to keep United in front going into the break.
A Defoe shot within seconds of the restart signalled Tottenham's intentions for the second half and they should have been level after 51 minutes. Mousa Dembele dribbled past three United bodies before squaring to Dempsey, whose first touch put him clear on goal 10 yards out. The American forward was guilty of a terrible finish though as he shot too close to De Gea, who just about touched the ball around the post.
Dempsey proved wasteful on multiple occasions as Tottenham continued to have the better of the game, but United were denied the chance to extend their lead after 64 minutes when substitute Rooney was chopped down by Stephen Caulker in the box and no penalty was awarded.
With only a one-goal lead to protect, United tried to stem the tide of Tottenham attacks and Rio Ferdinand produced a superb intervention to slide in and block a shot from Defoe just as the striker pulled the trigger following a pass from Lennon.
However, Dempsey finally made the breakthrough in injury time. De Gea was at fault for a poor attempt to punch away from a cross and the ball went straight to Lennon, who controlled superbly and squared for Dempsey, who gratefully tapped the ball home.
It was no more than Spurs deserved after pounding the league leaders for 90 minutes.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Aaron Lennon (Tottenham): The winger finally got the assist his performance deserved in injury time. Lennon gave Patrice Evra a torrid afternoon.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 6, Walker 5, Dawson 7, Caulker 6, Naughton 6, Parker 6, Dembele 7, Lennon 8, Dempsey 7, Bale 7, Defoe 6. Subs: Assou-Ekotto 6, Huddlestone 6.
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea 6, Rafael 6, Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra 5, Carrick 8, Jones 7, Cleverley 7, Kagawa 6, Welbeck 6, Van Persie 7. Subs: Rooney 6, Valencia 6.
- Sports & Recreation