Leicester City won a hard-fought and entertaining battle against Manchester United 4-2 on Saturday at the King Power, ending the Red Devils undefeated strike on the road at 29 matches. First-half strikes by Mason Greenwood and Youri Tielemans saw the sides go into the tunnel on even terms. After the break, a stunning barrage of goals by Çağlar Söyüncü, Jamie Vardy, and Patson Daka overwhelm the visitors who could only manage a single strike by Marcus Rashford.
xG map for Leicester City - Manchester United— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) October 16, 2021
great goals / real bad shot map from United pic.twitter.com/AG5AW3pylJ
#Deserved. Also, #Spoilers
Manager Brendan Rodgers welcomed Jonny Evans back into the fold as he deployed a 3-4-1-2 for the first time this season: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, Ricardo Pereira, Youri Tielemans, Boubakary Soumare, Timothy Castagne, James Maddison, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Jamie Vardy.
The opening ten minutes were all Leicester, with the Foxes springing counters every time the Red Devils turned the ball over in midfield. Iheanacho won every one-on-one with Harry Maguire, but the final ball wasn’t quite there and United were able to escape from the early pressure unscathed.
It was against the run of play that the visitors took the lead. Mason Greenwood left Castagne in his wake as he drifted inside from the left-wing. No one came out to help so the England man decided to shoot from distance and it proved a brilliant decision. His left-footed effort rocketed past Schmeichel and flew in off the far post.
The deficit was short-lived and it was every bit as spectacular as the first goal. United won a free kick in their own half and played it short. Maguire dawdled on it and was disposed by Iheanacho. He fed it to Tielemans on the edge of the area and the Belgian just casually swept a curling effort that fell just inside the top corner of the far post.
Surely they won’t take down a tweet by this legend.
The halftime whistle blew following a Leicester set-piece that earned a corner that we weren’t given a chance to take. While the Foxes probably just edged the run of play, it was a fairly even half. City had 52% of the ball and both sides put three shots on target but there’s no question it was Brendan Rodgers’ side that were getting behind their opponents’ defence more often and causing more problems.
Both sides emerged from the tunnel unchanged as the second half got underway. After a brief flurry from United, the Foxes started turning the screws and winning the ball in midfield and breaking forward in waves. This prompted United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to make an early call to his bench, sending Marcus Rashford on for Jadon Sancho.
Rodgers responded shortly afterwards by withdrawing Madders and introducing Ayoze Perez. The match couldn’t have been more finely balanced with any mistake possibly spelling doom for either side. Tielemans won the ball in midfield and, finding acres of space, fired in a shot that De Dea did incredibly well to turn on to the post and to safety.
Sensing blood, Rodgers made his second change, bringing on Patson Daka for Iheanacho. His first action was to run behind the defence onto Vardy’s through ball only to see his shot saved by De Gea. His second action was the important one, though. A corner fell to the Zambian, whose shot was scrambled away, but only as far as Söyüncü who tapped home to give the Foxes a deserved lead.
The lead was short-lived, as a perfectly-weighted through ball found Marcus Rashford behind the defence. One-on-one with Schmeichel, he kept his nerve and finished emphatically, restored parity yet again.
However, the parity lasted even less time than the previous lead, all of 15 seconds after the restart. Castagne absorbed a brutal hit from Aaron Wan-Bissaka to find Ayoze on the left. The former Newcastle man looked to have run into a cul-de-sac, surrounded by defenders, but he managed to tap it with the outside of his foot to Vardy. The former Fleetwood Town striker hit it on the half-volley and found the inside of the side netting with an instinctive finish.
Rodgers made his third change, hauling off Evans for Jannik Vestergaard. It was, however, the previous substitute who made the big impact. Vardy won a free kick off of Wan-Bissaka, who was fortunate not to see a second yellow for the challenge. Tielemans’ free kick was glanced on by Pogba straight to the feet of Daka. The former Salzburg man showed fine footwork to tuck the ball home from close range and double the Leicester lead.
If we ever decide to play three up top, I really feel for the defenders.
The Foxes looked the more likely through the remaining time plus the five minutes added on. United carved out several half-chances, but it all came to nothing for the visitors. The final whistle went with the Foxes looking comfortable and in control.
That was fun, eh?
The real star of the show was the gaffer. He set the team up to nullify United’s width and strike down the middle at a weak centre-half pairing and it worked a treat. Even at 2-2, the scoreline was flattering to the visitors and it seemed a matter of time before we got our just rewards. The two decisive goals came via an assist and a goal from the first two substitutes, so you’d have to say he got that right, too.
The win gives us 11 points from 8 matches, which places us at 11th on the table so still plenty of work to do, but it’s something to build on. There’s no rest for the wicked as the team travel several time zones east to take on Spartak Moscow in the Europa League on Wednesday. We return to league action next Sunday, squaring off against Brentford at the Community Stadium in London.