Manchester United were eliminated from the FA Cup courtesy of a 3-1 quarterfinal defeat away at Leicester City on Sunday. It was a poor performance from Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side, who were second best throughout the match, and made their life more difficult with a sequence of calamitous defensive errors.
United enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening few minutes, but that rather played into Leicester’s hands. Brendan Rodgers’ side are one of the most effective counter-attacking sides in the Premier League at present, and they created the better of the early chances.
Inside 20 minutes, Jamie Vardy forced Dean Henderson into a strong parry after an ineffective Harry Maguire clearance returned the ball to its sender; moments later the same players were involved again as the United defender was forced into a strong block on a low Vardy drive.
When Leicester finally took the lead midway through the first half, we might have seen it coming. However, the opener was not so much the product of sublime attacking play as calamitous United defending. Building out from a goal kick, Maguire played a hospital pass into Fred, who was caught facing his own goal deep in the United half. Youri Tielemans knocked the ball into Kelechi Ịheanachọ, who calmly rounded the keeper before slotting into an empty net.
United’s defence continued to struggle with Leicester’s attack, and Maguire soon picked up a yellow card when isolated one-on-one with Ịheanachọ. It was a terrible performance from the former Leicester man — the latest in a long line of them. However, five minutes before halftime, United hit back, converting their first real chance of the match.
The goal came courtesy of some ingenious attacking play from Donny van de Beek, who let Paul Pogba’s low cross run through his legs for an open Greenwood. With typical precision, the young forward smashed a brilliant finish past Kasper Schmeichel, ensuring a rather fortuitous United headed into halftime level with their hosts.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Leicester made a similarly swashbuckling start to the second half, and restored their advantage within seven minutes of the restart. Tielemans, the provider in the first half, turned scorer in the second, driving away from Fred and tickling a low shot into Henderson’s far post from outside the United box.
Leicester should’ve killed the game off just short of the hour. Ịheanachọ sent Vardy scampering down the left, where he squeezed the ball through Maguire’s legs and surged through on goal. You’d have bet your house on him converting, but he snatched at the chance, and fired wide of Henderson’s near post.
Five minutes later, Solskjær made a quadruple change, introducing Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani in a bid to turn the tide. It seemed to have worked, at least for a few minutes, as United began to crank up the pressure for the first time.
However, an Ịheanachọ second killed the game off with just over 10 minutes left. Unmarked at the back post, the Nigerian leapt to head a Marc Albrighton free-kick home from point-blank range. Henderson got a touch, but his hand wasn’t strong enough to keep the ball out. The goal sealed a deserved win for the Foxes, who will face Southampton at Wembley in the semifinals.