Manchester United narrowly lost out to Leicester City in their Premier League encounter, with Mason Greenwood scoring their only goal in a 2-1 defeat, but the fans can be proud of the lads who took to the field.
That is because Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side were given a very poor hand, after their fixture against Liverpool was postponed last week, the Premier League decided to place the fixture on Thursday so that the Reds have three games in five days… nice.
This was the middle match, and so Solskjær decided to give rest to almost his entire side. In fact, from the team that beat Aston Villa, it was only Greenwood who started this encounter. Veteran’s Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic were given rare starts while teenagers, Amad and Anthony Elanga were both gifted their first starts for the first-team.
Story of the match
The match started as expected, with the hosts being sloppy in possession and giving away possession on multiple occasions – which was completely expected. Brendan Rodger’s side took the lead after nine minutes with a goal from 19-year-old, Luke Thomas.
The Leicester City wingback received a cross at the back post from Youri Tielemans on the right, after the midfielder attacked the gaping space in the United backline after Axel Tuanzebe was dragged out of position. The cross from the Belgian was pinpoint and a brilliant volley into the top right corner from the teenager gave his side the lead early on.
After the goal, it seemed like it was going to be a long night for the United side, however, when you have a finisher like Mason Greenwood on the pitch, anything is possible!
It was just five minutes after the opening goal when Juan Mata decided to drop into a deeper position and pick the ball up, El Mago then produced a wonderful long pass towards Amad on the right-flank. The youngster outmuscled Thomas before playing square to Greenwood on the edge of the area.
United’s number 11 drove towards the area, skipped past Çağlar Söyüncü and then with immense precision, he placed the ball towards the bottom right-hand corner, out of the reach of Kasper Schmeichel and gave the hosts an all-important equaliser.Embed from Getty Images
Momentum’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Because after the United equaliser, they looked ten times more confident and began to get a hold of the game. This was also helped by Leicester’s increasing lack of quality in possession.
However, there was not many chances of note for the Red Devils in the remaining portion of the first-half, but Mason Greenwood proved to be a spark in attack, as well, Nemanja Matic rolled back the years with a classic performance in the heart of the team.
Leicester went close on 41 minutes, after Kelechi Iheanacho had the chance to play Jamie Vardy in, but the former Manchester City man overhit his pass and David de Gea was able to smother the chance and the second-string United side went into the break level with Leicester.
So everything was going well and United continued to match Leicester as the second half commenced. On 49 minutes, Greenwood had the chance to return a pass on the break to Anthony Elanga, who would’ve been through on goal, but his pass was underhit and The Foxes regained possession.
However, the visitors began to take control of the game as the half progressed, dominating the possession. It was after 58 minutes where they went close to taking the lead, but de Gea did well to deny Iheanacho from a tight angle.
After a sustained period of possession, the ball was played into Tielemans, who found himself in a pocket of space on United’s left side. With great vision, he found a pass in behind the United defence to his onrushing striker. Matic was unable to stop the attacker and he then was gifted a chance to strike at the United net, but the goalkeeper closed down the angle expertly and made a solid save.
Leicester continued to control the tempo and Solskjaer decided to bring on the cavalry, with Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani replacing the goalscorer, Greenwood, and Elanga.
However, it was instantly after the changes, on 65 minutes, that United went behind and it became a much more difficult task for the team.
You know what they say, ‘don’t make substitutes when you’re defending a corner’, well that’s exactly what United did. Rashford was unable to block the run from Söyüncü, the centre-back then leapt high at the back post to convert Marc Albrighton’s cross with a strong header into the top left-hand corner of the goal.Embed from Getty Images
Leicester could’ve added to their lead after Iheanacho found Jamie Vardy at the back post with a lovely cross, the veteran striker headed back across goal for Tielemans, but he could only slide into de Gea’s post; missing the ball by a matter of inches.
While there was a lack of chances, United still had a chance to get something out of the game and so Bruno Fernandes took to the field, replacing Amad. He was close to making it 28 for the season after his strike curled wide of the goal following good work on the left from Alex Telles and Juan Mata.
They continued to push and minutes from the whistle Fernandes aimed to find Cavani in the area with a deep cross, but Schmeichel gathered comfortably and Leicester won the match and made a big step towards Champions League qualification this season.
City win the title, one eye on next season
While it was necessary to rest players today, a loss was always going to announce the title for Manchester City and that is not what any Manchester United fan wants.
However, the Reds are much closer than expected and will have one eye on next season, where they will hope that they can push their neighbours even more in the league.
There is a European final to focus on though, and while it is not the most prestigious one, it is a chance for United to secure their first trophy since 2017, and that could be vital in their push for more silverware next season.
Ironically, this loss has made the fight for the top four almost impossible for Liverpool, and that is who United host in their next fixture *checks notes* two days from now.