Manchester United recorded their first win in three when they saw off Leicester City 1-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday. Marcus Rashford scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot less than 10 minutes in, deciding a forgettable match in which chances were at a premium.
The exception was the first few minutes, which left scarcely any time to catch your breath. Kasper Schmeichel was called into action by a curling Andreas Pereira free kick, moments before United’s centre-backs failed to deal with a route-one goal kick and allowed James Maddison to stab a dangerous low shot at David de Gea.
The lively start culminated in a United penalty after just eight minutes, awarded when Çağlar Söyüncü felled Rashford in the box. Rashford leaped to his feet to send Schmeichel the wrong way and United into an early lead. One couldn’t help but worry that it was slightly too early.
Leicester seemed to grow in confidence as the half wore on, though struggled to find an opening in the United defence. They went closest to an equaliser through a long-range dipper from Ben Chilwell, which was rather uncomfortably parried over by de Gea.
The Foxes seemed to have most joy when they were most direct, and started the second half with another threatening punt angled ominously in behind United’s defence. Maddison lurked, but this time couldn’t quite make up the ground before de Gea smothered the chance. Just past the hour, a vicious whipped cross from Youri Tielemans almost landed plonk on the head of Jonny Evans, but he too just failed to make contact.
The game comprised what is increasingly the archetypal United performance: snatch an early goal, control large portions of the game, but hardly ever look like nabbing a second. For as long as the scoreline remained 1-0, there was always the uncomfortable feeling Leicester would do what Southampton managed before the international break, and snatch one back.
Fortunately, Leicester proved as blunt as their hosts, and United scrapped to their first win in three. It wasn’t particularly convincing, but we’re at the stage where convincing wins are to be understood as a luxury rather than a staple. Up next it’s Astana in Thursday’s Europa League curtain-raiser. Please, contain your excitement.