Leicester City 0-Manchester United 2
Match Report by Chris Griffin
And so the Champions League ambitions fell away. The final score line is harsh. City played well but like so often since the restart lacked the clinical precision needed to turn half chances into goals. In truth, entry to the Champions League should not have come down to this game. Dropped points that pepper the last third of the season are what tripped us up.
From the team at Tottenham Albrighton, Choudhury and Iheanacho came in. Both teams were cautious in the opening ten minutes. Pogba managed to set Martial free in the box but he was offside. Vardy made a good wing break but his cross was easily dealt with. Thomas headed clear a Fernandes corner. Iheanacho went down in the United area but referee Atkinson waved play on.
United were having more possession and were more successful winning knock downs and second balls. Even so Maguire had to resort to a scissors kick challenge on Iheanacho which saw the former Leicester man receive a yellow card. Leicester relied on countering and after good work by Iheanacho, Tielemans fed Ndidi but Wilf sent his fierce shot over the bar.
United were getting some joy from carefully weighted passes through and over the City defence especially from Rashford. But Justin in particular held firm on several occasions. Iheanacho looked a threat especially receiving the ball with back to goal and then turning and running at United’s defenders. After one such run his shot was parried by De Gea. Vardy got to the rebound but was ruled offside.
After the drinks break Leicester continued to make errors in their own defensive third giving United opportunities to attack. Martial put the ball in the net after one such error but was clearly offside. But City had their moments including a brilliant move which saw Iheanacho feed the ball to Thomas. His cross from the left was reached by Vardy but under pressure he sent the ball wide.
The first half finished with United doing the pressing. A Pogba pass set Rashford free but he could not keep his shot down. Then following a corner the ball fell to Rashford who lashed in a goal bound shot that was well saved by Schmeichel at his near post.
There was penalty area action at both ends at the start of the second half. Justin was very quick to dispossess Martial as the striker prepared to shoot. At the other end a neat one-two between Iheanacho and Albrighton led to a City corner but the follow up kick came to nothing. Perhaps surprisingly to some Iheanacho was replaced by Perez in 58th minute.
Perez was soon in the action winning a free kick outside the United area. Vardy back-headed Tielemans’ freekick against the angle of post and crossbar with De Gea rooted. Then a Tielemans effort was blocked after a good pass from the impressive Thomas.
Since half time the game had become pretty equal but events were about to turn. Leicester played the ball out of the penalty area but Choudhury, just outside the box, was robbed by Greenwood who played a good ball into the area for Martial. The striker was tackled from behind by Evans who despite getting a touch on the ball was penalised and yellow carded. Referee Atkinson did not hesitate to give the penalty – United’s 14th of the season – and Fernandes stroked the ball into the net from the spot.
City made three substitutions immediately, bringing on Gray, Barnes and Praet for Tielemans, Albrighton and Choudhury. City’s impetus increased and after Gray found Barnes in the box the ball fell to Vardy but his shot on the turn lacked power. United brought on Lingard for Greenwood but City kept pressing. One ball from Thomas fell for Morgan in the United box but the City defender completely miskicked.
Then Gray cut in and his firm shot was deflected by Maguire but the referee missed the deflection so no corner. Then Maguire clattered into Vardy from behind on the edge of the United D. He was penalised but no second yellow card was forthcoming. Gray’s free kick was headed for a corner off the wall.
United brought on McTomminay and City brought on Hirst for Thomas. Hirst jumped well to head a Schmeichel free kick but the header lacked power and De Gea caught it comfortably.
As the game went into over time more incidents awaited. Firstly Evans overstretched in the tackle and caught McTomminay late. Evans barely waited for the referee’s straight red card before leaving the pitch. Then Schmeichel in the dying seconds of the game tried to dribble past Lingard in front of goal. He lost possession and the United player had the easiest job to roll the ball into the empty net.
So Europa Cup it is. Back in August many City fans would have settled for that. Obviously the squad needs more depth. That will be even more important when the Europa competition starts. But we should not forget some of the great moments this City team gave us earlier in the season.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Justin, Morgan, Evans, Thomas, Albrighton, Ndidi, Choudhury, Tielemans, Iheanacho, Vardy. Subs: Gray, Ward, Barnes, Perez, James, Mendy, Praet, Bennett, Hirst
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelöf, Williams, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Martial, Rashford. Subs: Bailly, Mata, Lingard, Fred, Romero, Fosu-Mensha, Ighalo, McTomminay.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation