Football

Leicester strike late to frustrate Manchester United

EPL
LEICESTER CITY MANCHESTER UNITED
2 2
(Harvey Barnes 31, Axel Tuanzebe 85-og) (Marcus Rashford 23, Bruno Fernandes 79)

Manchester United missed out on the chance to move within two points of English Premier League leaders Liverpool as Axel Tuanzebe’s own goal five minutes from time earned second-placed Leicester City a 2-2 draw on Saturday (Dec 26).

Slow starts had been a feature for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men on the road this season as they had won their previous six away league games despite conceding first.

However, this time it was the Red Devils who twice failed to hold onto the lead.

Harvey Barnes’ fierce strike cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s opener before half-time.

Bruno Fernandes thought he had claimed another away win 11 minutes from time, but Jamie Vardy’s predatory instincts kept Leicester one point and one place above United in the table as his shot deflected in off Tuanzebe.

Liverpool’s lead at the top now stands at three points and Juergen Klopp’s men can move further clear when they host West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on Monday morning (Singapore time).

Solskjaer has been keen to put an end to his side’s sluggish starts and should have been celebrating inside 90 seconds when Rashford headed over Fernandes’ inch-perfect cross with only Kasper Schmeichel to beat.

The England international was not so merciful to the Foxes when given a second chance midway through the first-half as he swept Fernandes’ prodded through-ball into the bottom corner for his 13th goal of the season.

Leicester’s only threat before falling behind had come from a mishit clearance from David de Gea from which Barnes could not pick out a teammate in the middle.

However, Barnes hauled his side back into the game with one moment of brilliance as his powerful blast from outside the box had too much power for de Gea on 31 minutes.

United continued to pose the greater threat, but lacked the killer instinct on the counter-attack that has played a major role when they have had success this season.

Paul Pogba again had to make do with a place on the bench, but the Frenchman made an instant impact when he was introduced just before the hour mark and helped United take control of the midfield.

Solskjaer’s men were still most dangerous when given space to run in behind as Fred fed Rashford whose fierce shot was repelled by a brilliant save by Schmeichel.

Moments later, Rashford was the creator as Anthony Martial coolly slotted beyond the giant Dane in the Leicester goal, but this time the offside flag, backed up by a VAR review, denied United.

Edinson Cavani was also brought off the bench by Solskjaer in search of a winner in the final 15 minutes and the Uruguayan made a big impact as he fed Fernandes for the Portuguese to drill home his 14th goal of the season.

But United failed to hold out for a record-equalling 11th consecutive away Premier League win as Vardy’s movement outfoxed the visitor’s defence as he turned Ayoze Perez’s cross towards goal and the ball bounced in off the unfortunate Tuanzebe.

“Disappointed we didn’t win today because we had loads of big chances and we could’ve finished it off, but they’re a dangerous side,” said Solskjaer.

“One point is not the worst result but we’re disappointed to not get the three points against a tough side,” he added. – AFP, REUTERS

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