However, a different United emerged as Fred levelled before Cavani had the last laugh with a diving header - and Mason Greenwood sealed a deserved win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils in injury time.
Man United player ratings
Dean Henderson 7
Had no chance with Son's goal, but made a couple of smart saves from Son and Kane and was quick off his line to cover the space in behind that Son, Kane and Lucas love to exploit together.
Aaron Wan Bissaka 7
Was pulled out of position for Spurs' goal as Son scored from the left flank position, but got down the right flank well as United put the pressure on after the break and controlled that wing.
Victor Lindelof 7
Missed a key ball in the build-up to Spurs' goal, but went about his business without too much fuss after that. Showed for possession well as United looked to get back into the game, carrying the ball forward for the move that led to Cavani's goal.
Harry Maguire 7
Marshalled Kane well around the box, could do little about Son's opener. Was booked for clumsily losing a duel with Kane on the touchline, but was solid in general.
Luke Shaw 7
Caught out once or twice down the flank, with Spurs working the space well. Not at his usual levels, but still offered a vital outlet on the left and was strong at the back.
Scott McTominay 7
Will feel hard done by to be penalised in the build-up to United's disallowed 'opener'. Went about his business well thereafter as United pushed Spurs back for the second half.
Lively as usual in the middle, battled well with Spurs' tough midfield and followed in Cavani's shot for a rare goal. A tenacious display, and the kind of performance which United fans have grown accustomed to this season.
Bruno Fernandes 7
Off the pace with his passing in key areas. Typically dedicated off the ball, but lacking his usual quality off it. Forced a fine save from Lloris just past the hour.and a cheeky touch set up Greenwood for the cross for Cavani’s header. It says as much about his talent and character that he still made a telling impact.
Paul Pogba 8
Denied an lovely assist for Cavani, the Frenchman took control of the game after half-time to drag United back into it. So often at the heart of the visitors' good play, he also made Greenwood’s injury-time goal.
Marcus Rashford 6
He never really got going in the game given he was deployed on the right where he is less effective. His replacement Greenwood provided the vital assist.
Edinson Cavani 9
Unfortunate to be denied a goal for a clever finish in the first half, Spurs could not deal with his movement at all. Another good run and shot forced the save from which Fred levelled.
A constant menace, and got his reward with a perfect diving header 12 minutes from time - and a defensive header against the post at the other end saved a certain equaliser.
All in all, the 34-year-old Uruguayan delivered a masterclass in movement as a centre-forward.
Mason Greenwood 8
Came on for Rashford and provided an excellent cross for Cavani to head home before scoring one himself in added time. A superb impact from the bench.
Nemanja Matic N/A
Subs not used: de Gea, Mata, Diallo, Alex Telles, Williams, van de Beek, Tuanzebe