Leicester City 0
Manchester United 1
It was slender margins at the King Power Stadium as Manchester United edge to victory over Leicester City with Marcus Rashford’s early goal being enough to seperate the two sides.
United went into the game making four changes from the team that clinched an important point against Burnley. Alexis Sanchez returned to the starting line-up, as did Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera replacing Andreas Pereira, Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata and Phil Jones respectively. Leicester manager Claude Puel made one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Liverpool on Wednesday with Harvey Barnes replacing Marc Albrighton. There was no debut for new signing Youri Tielemans who didn’t make the match day squad.
Both sides started the game in good stead with plenty of pressing prowess being displayed early on. It was a testament to the two sides that they both looked threatening on the counter attack and it was evident what a good match was to be had here.
However, it was United who looked the stronger of the two sides going into the opening quarter. This was certainly highlighted in the fifth minute when Marcus Rashford could well have given United an early lead after Luke Shaw’s cross from the left found the England international in the centre, but his cushioned header went inches over the crossbar. He was unlucky not to get his tenth goal of the season.
It was United who were to strike first in the 9th minute through in-form striker Rashford who was able to recover from his previous effort. After Leicester defender Ricardo Pereira’s clearance gifted the ball to Paul Pogba in the midfield, Pogba’s magnificent lifted ball over the defence found Rashford who had timed his run to perfection. His first touch and fabulous guided finish flew past Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal and gave United a well-deserved 1-0 lead.
Heading towards the halfway point of the first half, it was Leicester who were looking the more energetic of the two sides. A number of neat exchanges in the United third allowed Leicester to build some momentum and get a foot hold in game and were beginning to look more and more threatening when edging towards the United penalty area. This culminated in the 24th minute when attacking midfielder James Maddison found himself in space on the edge of the United ‘d’ and got a shot away which was, however, well claimed by De Gea.
In what was their fourth corner of the match up to that point, Leicester could well have got that all-important equaliser via former United defender Jonny Evans in the 38th minute. The Leicester defender rose well from the corner, although he got solid contact with the header, it was well wide of De Gea’s goal and couldn’t score against his former club.
Right on the stroke of the referee’s half-time whistle, United nearly doubled their advantage. Nampalys Mendy showed too much of his play to Nemanja Matic who was able to easily intercept and play it to goalscorer Rashford. His turn and subsequent shot wasn’t enough to significantly test Schmeichel however.
Going into the second half, it was the home side who started the side the stronger of the two and looked bright, springing right out of the traps and putting United under some serious pressure. Academy starlet Harvey Barnes was unlucky not to get an equaliser in the 46th minute after his dart into the penalty area and left footed effort was just off target.
United got their first chance of the half in the 59th minute after Shaw did well down the United left and was able to find international colleague Rashford after beating Leicester defender Ricardo. Rashford’s low-driven shot was well wide of the target and lacked any real precision. It remained 1-0.
Leicester were certainly holding a firm grip on the game at this stage and were managing to sustain constant pressure on United. This pressure ultimately resulted in a free kick just after the hour mark after Jamie Vardy was fouled by Matic. Maddison’s free kick on the edge of the area went straight into the United wall but fell to Vardy whose volley went straight into De Gea’s capable arms.
Leicester’s best chance of the half and indeed their best at getting an equaliser came in the 77th minute through substitute Rachid Ghezzal whose curling free kick from 25 yards needed saving by Spaniard De Gea. His miraculous finger tipped save was enough to prevent Leicester from going all square.
Going into the final ten minutes of the match and it was all Leicester. Another free kick from Ghezzal on the Leicester left over to the far post found Harry Maguire. His header back across the centre found Evans but he was unable to get a clear connection on the ball and was instead easily cleared by the United defence.
United did still manage to remain threatening on the counter attack and this was definitely evident in the 88th minute when substitute Romelu Lukaku almost caught Leicester short at the back after making serious inroads down the Leicester left. His powerful effort was matched by Schmeichel who did well to get across to it.
Leicester’s last chance to salvage a point came through defender Maguire in the 90+4th minute. After Ghezzal’s cross to the far post found the England defender but he was unable to convert. His chance going painfully wide for all of those Foxes supporters.
That was to be the last chance of the afternoon and so it was a 3rd successive home defeat for Leicester and was extremely unlucky on their behalf. They had dominated most of the afternoon but just lacked the killer quality in the final third and especially in front of goal. For Manchester United, it was back to winning ways after their draw at home to Burnley last time out and was a 9th win out of 10 for caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
1. Kasper Schmeichel, 14. Ricardo Pereira, 6. Jonny Evans, 15. Harry Maguire, 3. Ben Chilwell, 25. Wilfred Ndidi, 24. Nampalys Mendy (8. Kelechi Iheanacho 84’), 7. Demarai Gray (20. Shinji Okazaki 74’), 10. James Maddison (31. Rachid Ghezzal 62’), 19. Harvey Barnes, 9. Jamie Vardy. SUBS NOT USED: 12. Danny Ward, 28. Christian Fuchs, 5. Wes Morgan, 38. Hamza Choudhury.
Bookings: Vardy 32’, Mendy 45’, Ghezzal 82’ & Ndidi 90’
1. David De Gea, 18. Ashley Young, 2. Victor Lindelof, 3. Eric Bailly, 23. Luke Shaw, 31. Nemanja Matic, 21. Ander Herrera, 6. Paul Pogba, 14. Jesse Lingard (4. Phil Jones 89’), 10. Marcus Rashford (9. Romelu Lukaku 77’), 7. Alexis Sanchez (11. Anthony Martial 67’) SUBS NOT USED: 22. Sergio Romero, 20. Diogo Dalot, 17. Fred, 8. Juan Mata
Bookings: Lingard 20’, Matic 45’, Shaw 80’ & Martial 90’
Referee: Mike Dean