clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Match Report: Manchester United 3 - 0 Leicester City

A game of two halves: We lost them both

Liverpool FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Wrong match, right reaction
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Leicester City lost to Manchester United by a score of 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday morning. The Foxes dominated the first half but found themselves down 1-0 when Marcus Rashford scored from United’s only shot on target of the half. The Red Devils absolutely pummelled City in the second period with goals from Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

In a move that surprised absolutely no one, manager Brendan Rodgers kept faith with the starting XI that dismantled Tottenham Hotspur last weekend: Danny Ward, Timothy Castagne, Harry Souttar, Wout Faes, Victor Kristiansen, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Nampalys Mendy, Tete, James Maddison (C), Harvey Barnes, Kelechi Iheanacho.

While the hosts dominated the possession, the Foxes carved out the first real chance of the match on 9’. United turned the ball over to Barnes in the midfield. The winger tore down the centre of the park and found Iheanacho just outside the area. The Nigeria man returned the ball, giving Barnes only David de Gea to beat. It was a good shot, but a better save and Leicester had to settle for a corner. Souttar got a free header that looped just over the crossbar.

Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League
As close as we would come to finding the inside of the net all afternoon.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

De Gea once again came to the Red Devils’ rescue on 20’. Castagne was given acres of space on the right. He held the ball briefly and then crossed to Iheanacho at the far post. The Seniorman stooped and planted his header inside the far past only for the Spanish keeper to somehow claw it off the line.

The hosts took the lead against the run of play in the most disappointing of fashions. Faes gave the ball away to Bruno Fernandes. He compounded the error by attempting to win it back and leaving Marcus Rashford alone behind him. Fernandes just slid the ball behind the defence and there was only one way this would end: With Rashford scoring from close range, giving Ward no hope at all.

There was a big decision for referee Stuart Atwell to make just before the half. Faes cleared the ball from the edge of the City area and Marcel Sabitzer was very late with his challenge. He missed the ball completely and went studs-first into the Belgium man’s knee. VAR took a long look at it and determined that it wasn’t worthy of a red card although surely it must have been close.

Sabitzer had the nerve to argue that this wasn’t a foul, which is...something.

That was it for the half, which was equally encouraging and frustrating. No one would disagree that the Foxes were the better side but found themselves down a goal due to some brilliant goalkeeping and one defensive mistake. Would Leicester find a way back into the match? I honestly don’t know at this point since I write these in near-real-time.

Desperate Young Girl (La Jeune Desesperee). Creator: Alphonse Legros.
Spoiler alert: We wouldn’t. Also: Using “facepalm” as a search term for the CMS is a lot of fun.
Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Before the second half started, the commentators noted that the last time Manchester United lost a match they were leading at the half was back in 2014...against Leicester. If you don’t remember that match or just want to spend the next few minutes with a huge grin on your face, check out the highlights from the match. You’ll be glad you did.

The match restarted with the Foxes unchanged to start the half. Mendy picked up an early yellow for...honestly, I don’t know what. He won the ball cleanly and Rashford tripped over the ball or something. United were given a free kick anyway. The ball was swung into Lisandro Martinez, who had a free header from 8 yards but planted it against the bar with Ward well beaten.

It was pure chaos over the next ten minutes, with United looking the more dangerous side, eventually doubling their advantage. A diagonal ball was played into Rashford behind Castagne and the striker beat Ward one on one again. The flag went up as Rashford was clearly beyond the Belgium fullback. VAR drew their lines and determined that Faes was playing him onside, so the goal was given.

Down two goals, Rodgers made two changes, withdrawing Mendy and KDH for Youri Tielemans and Boubakary Soumare. It had an immediate impact, but not the one the gaffer would have wanted. Iheanacho lost the ball when Martinez pulled him back by his arm, allowing United to break. Rashford slipped it to substitute Jadon Sancho, who found Fernandes on the right. The return ball came to Sancho who blasted it first-time past Ward.

With 15 minutes to play, Rodgers introduced Jamie Vardy and Dennis Praet for Iheancho and Tete. We were now in that phase of the match where things got silly. McTominay and Tielemans went chest-to-chest in a challenge, causing the Scot to hit the deck clutching his forehead. It was like that. Not a lot of football was happening which probably would have really irritated David Mitchell.

There wasn’t much to discuss over the last phase of the match. Leicester were chasing everything and very very open at the half, but United’s heart weren’t really in trying to extend the lead when there was a Hollywood ball to be played. It was very much what they call “garbage time” in the NBA. No one would have minded had Atwell blown the whistle early, but as a final insult, he allowed all four minutes of injury time to play out before closing the proceedings.

If you stuck it out through the whole thing, you deserve something nice. Here is a capybara playing with some puppies. You’re welcome.

For a match that started so well, there’s very little good to say about that one. We looked great in the first half. We looked awful in the second. Erik Ten Haag’s adjustments at the break were the difference as we couldn’t cope with United once Sancho came on. Tierney was genuinely awful, but he’s not the reason we lost. Poor refereeing is just more frustrating when the team aren’t playing well.

In spite of the score, we had some decent performances: Mendy wasn’t bad, and both Barnes and Tete looked dangerous. Souttar looks a bargain, Faes was strong when he wasn’t being responsible for two United goals, and Castagne was probably our best player. We completely lost control of the centre of the park when Mendy and KDH came off. I understand what Rodgers was trying to do, but we couldn’t keep the ball or match the hosts’ pace after that change.

We desperately need for Ndidi to be Ndidi again.

The defeat leaves us on 24 points from 23 matches, good enough for 14th on the table. We’re four points out of the relegation zone and eleven shy of the Europa Conference League, so that should give us a good idea of where our focus should be. We square off against Arsenal at the King Power on Saturday, then we host Blackburn Rovers in the 5th round of the FA Cup on the last day of February.