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Premier League Match Report: Manchester United 1 - 1 Leicester City

A deserved draw, but it still feels like two points dropped.

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League
VAR ruined a perfect celebration
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Leicester City battled Manchester United to a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening at Old Trafford. A dull first half saw no goals for either side. Kelechi Iheanacho gave the Foxes the lead early in the second period only for Fred to equalise shortly after. Neither side could find a winner in a frantic finish.

Manager Brendan Rodgers deployed his 1,784,392th different lineup [citation needed] featuring something reasonably close to a first-choice back four: Kasper Schmeichel (C), James Justin, Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans, Nampalys Mendy, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Kelechi Iheanacho.

The match started at a brisk pace. Both teams moved the ball quickly, if not purposefully or even successfully, which resulted in both goalkeepers serving as spectators until the 20th minute, which Paul Pogba nodded a tame header from distance directly at Schmeichel.

The first Chance-with-a-capital-C fell to the hosts when Fofana played a ball out of defence directly to Fred. The Brazil midfielder’s first touch found Bruno Fernandes one-on-one with Schmeichel. The former Manchester City stopper won the duel, kicking the shot wide with his left boot.

That proved the closest either side came to scoring in the first half. The commentary team described the intensity as being appropriate for “a testimonial game” and they weren’t wrong. Arlo White noted that “you could hear a pin drop” as the Theater of Dreams was earning its name in all the wrong ways.

Leicester City Training Session and Press Conference
There’s really not much happening, so how about a photo of the Foxes playing water polo at The House That Harry Maguire Built?
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

I don’t know that I’ve ever had fewer incidents to describe in a half of football. City played some enterprising football, but failed to get a shot on target. United edged possession and did make Schmeichel work once, but a goal by either side would have been flattering. 0-0 was a perfectly cromulent scoreline.

The hosts made one change at the half, hauling off Luke Shaw for Alex Telles. The match remained in need of a spark, but it got a stamp instead as Scott McTominey lunged in late on Justin and got nothing but the fullback’s foot with his challenge. VAR took a long look at it but in the end, referee Andre Marriner’s decision to show only a yellow card stood.

Real talk, though: Xhaka gets a red card for most everything.

That was McTominey’s last contribution as he removed in favour of Marcus Rashford. Nothing really changed with respect to the run of play as the Leicester players seemed to be playing from wildly different scripts. Multiple attempted one-twos were merely ones as the runs either weren’t being made or went in unexpected directions.

Everything good for the Foxes was coming down the left, and that was the avenue used to take the lead. Dewsbury-Hall did incredibly well to nick the ball off of Fernandes and find Madders on the left wing. He looked up and curled in an inch-perfect cross to find Iheanacho at the back post. The Seniorman stooped to head across David de Gea and into the net.

On the hour, Rodgers took Evans off and introduced Daniel Amartey, whose first contribution was to pick the ball out of the back of the net. Schmeichel cleared the ball directly to Fred in the United midfield. He found Fernandes, whose turned his man to get through on goal. His low drive was parried by Schmeichel, but Fred was the only player in a position to collect the rebound. He blasted it into the roof of the net from close range to level the score.

The Foxes thought they’d retaken the goal on 80’. Iheanacho somehow rode challenges from both Maguire and Varane on the edge of the area. He collected it and slipped it to Maddison on the right, and the former Norwich City man made no mistake from close range. VAR asked the referee to have a look, and it was determined that Iheanacho had fouled Varane in the buildup. It was a heartbreaking decision, but also probably the correct one.

As the match entered injury time, Mendy went down with some manner of injury, which bodes ill given the fact that Ndidi is out for the remainder of the season. Rodgers sent Hamza Choudhury on for the Senegal man and Patson Daka for Iheanacho. Things got frantic as the clock approached the end of the five minutes of injury time. Both sides had opportunities to win it in five minutes of time added on but neither could capitalise on them.

As much as I want it to be otherwise, a draw was probably a fair result. It was a sloppy match, but a very even one and both sides will feel they had the opportunity to take all three points. It says something that, even in what has been a very disappointing season, coming away from Old Trafford with a single point doesn’t feel like a great result. Not certain what it says, but it surely says something.

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League
Oh, and how about full 90 minutes for the increasingly-inaccurately nicknamed “Little Wes”?
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

The draw gives us 39 points from 28 matches and keeps us 9th on the table (not that you would have know that from the broadcast as they only showed the top 8 because, you know, Manchester United). On Thursday, we kick off our historic quarterfinal tie against PSV Eindhoven in the Europa Conference League with the first leg at the King Power. We return to the league on Sunday, hosting Jeffrey Schlupp’s Crystal Palace.