Manchester United see their away streak grind to a halt as the spoils are shared in Leicester
In an eagerly-anticipated clash between the two teams closest to league-leaders Liverpool, it was perhaps Jürgen Klopp who emerged victorious.
Following Liverpool’s 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace last week, the pressure has increased on the pursuing pack to keep their pace. Despite the awful start to the season, a rich and continuous vein of form has seen United emerge as one of the lead contenders to contest their fierce rival’s title charge.
This form, particularly pungent in away games such as these, will likely have had many United fans optimistic of a statement victory in Leicester.
Despite meeting a Foxes side in strong form of their own, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have dramatically improved their own stock largely through overcoming the issue of their slow starts.
Having created numerous early chances against both Leeds and Everton, United brought the same early domination to the King Power Stadium where they should have taken a quick lead.
Bruno Fernandes, in the first of his many highlights, delivered a cross to the completely open Marcus Rashford only to see the school-meal superstar head the ball agonisingly over.
The England forward did not have to wait long to amend his error however, as Fernandes was on hand to deliver him a second chance to convert past Kaspar Schmeichel. The ball fell fortuitously close to the alert Portuguese, who gave a mighty stretch to poke the ball through the Leicester back line where Rashford made no mistake to finish.
Fernandes, fuelled by the confidence of his early showing, was soon to find himself overcomplicating matters much to the advantage of the hosts. Ignoring the simple pass, he was soon to be robbed of possession thus allowing the Foxes to shuffle the ball to Harvey Barnes. The powerful winger unleashed a vicious shot which exposed David De Gea’s near-post positioning, and brought his tenacious side level.
United had created the most chances of the the first half, but had been punished for their worrying defensive errors by perhaps the only team who rival United in their counter-attacking capabilities.
Half-time: Leicester City 1 -1 Manchester United
Solskjaer stated his renewed attacking intent for the second half by immediately replacing Daniel James with the most expensive player in the Premier League, Paul Pogba. His impact on the front line quickly helped to create more chances, including an effort from Anthony Martial that required a VAR check to confirm a tight offside call.
The manager’s involvement continued after he was forced into the further substitution of Axel Tuanzebe for the injured Victor Lindelöf, but it was ultimately Solskjaer’s third substitute that would deliver the Norwegian his desired goal.
Edinson Cavani, on for Martial, drove towards the Leicester goal only to lay off the perfect pass for the dynamic Fernandes, who kept his eyes glued to the ball as he instinctively placed it past Schmeichel into the far corner.
Sensing another dramatic win, United needed only to hold on for ten more minutes to continue their unerring surge up the Premier League table.
Devastatingly, De Gea was once again to be haunted by the ferocious Jamie Vardy who has so often plagued United’s results. Ayoze Perez’s fine work on the wing resulted in an equally fine cross being fired in towards Vardy, who demonstrated his lightning-quick movement to pull back from Eric Bailly and fire his shot towards goal.
The effort may well have been spinning wide but for the unknowing substitute Tuanzebe, who could not possibly have avoided deflecting the effort into his own net.
A tormenting equaliser in the final minutes, and United could do little to produce a miraculous winner as the few minutes inevitably wore down.
The unbeaten run may well be extended, but few fans will find that consoling as the hot winning streak draws to a close. There needn’t be great pessimism about the result however, as United were easily the better team against some of their strongest Premier League opposition.
There is also cause for a comment about the immense form of two of United’s stars. Marcus Rashford scored his 50th goal for his boyhood club today, remarkably achieving the feat at an age so young that only Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have bettered. Few would be obtuse enough to ignore the significance of the comparison.
While Rashford’s achievement on the day was impressive, it was Bruno Fernandes who really stole the show. The Portuguese maestro has now been involved in over half of United’s total goals since his debut, as he has now notched 18 goals and registered a further 13 assists in just under a calendar year.
The difficult fixtures continue on Tuesday when Wolves will visit Old Trafford, but as long as United’s talisman is able to feature against his many compatriots, confidence of another victory should remain high.
Full time result: Leicester City 2 – 2 Manchester United
Man of the Match: Bruno Fernandes