Andre Villas-Boas put an end to Tottenham's 23-year winless streak at Old Trafford at the first time of asking as his side held on for an enthralling 3-2 victory against Manchester United.

Villas-Boas was 12-years-old the last time Spurs took three points away from the home of the red Devils but this was a spirited and at times scintillating performance from his team.

Spurs were positive from the off and were in front after just two minutes when Jan Vertonghen played a neat one-two with Gareth Bale before wrong-footing Anders Lindegaard with a shot that deflected off Jonny Evans on its way in.

If the home crowd felt uncomfortable with the unfamiliar scoreline they were given further cause for concern on the half-hour mark.

Gareth Bale motored past Rio Ferdinand before unleashing a right footed shot across Lindegaard to make it 2-0 before the break.

Spurs have thrown away leads against Manchester United more than once in the past and it felt like a familiar script when the hosts came out with renewed energy in the second half.

The game's climax came and went in a flash - 139 seconds to be precise - as three goals, two for United, left both sets of fans trying to catch their breath.

Nani made it 2-1 in the 51st minute before Clint Dempsey immediately restored Tottenham's two-goal lead with his first league goal for the club.

But United weren't to be denied and as the fans were re-taking their seats Shinji Kagawa latched on to Robin Van Persie's through ball to make it 3-2 with just over half an hour to play.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side dominated the latter stages of the game as Michael Carrick headed on to the bar and Rooney's free-kick struck the post.

But Spurs defended with discipline and desire, and as four minutes of an anxious period of injury time came and went, they held on for a memorable victory.

The win moves Villas-Boas' team up to fifth in the table and extends their unbeaten run to seven matches.