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Manchester United 1-2 Leicester City: Ole’s Rotated Reds come up short against a desperate Leicester

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Manchester United v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images

Manchester United fell to Leicester City on Tuesday in a 1-2 loss. The match is played in the middle of a crammed week of fixtures after the postponement of the Liverpool match, and a heavily rotated side put up a decent fight against a Leicester team desperate for points in their race for Champions League qualification.

United’s rotated back four were a bit busy early on, with Albrighton creating a chance for Vardy in the 8th minute, but Elanga took some momentum out of the cross and the chance was easy for De Gea to collect. They wouldn’t need to wait long for another chance, and this time Thomas volleyed it perfectly over Brandon Williams and into the top right corner of De Gea’s goal. Leicester, desperate for a win to hold on to a top 4 spot, were off to a good start at Old Trafford. They seemed likely to maintain control in midfield, and United’s best chances were likely to come on the counter.

Such an opportunity arose after 15 minutes, with Amad pouncing forward, cutting back and feeding Mason Greenwood. The youngster created space and scored, as he’s done so well lately. The game settled a bit after the equalizer, and United looked more and more likely to continue making a game of it with a makeshift lineup. De Gea was tested again only once before the half hour mark, and it was an effort from distance that hardly threatened him.

A little after the half hour mark United had settled into possession, and Leicester looked to be struggling to win the ball back and create meaningful possession. There was sloppy passing all around, but for the side playing most of their first choice XI one would have expected better from Leicester in the first half.

Leicester had the final period of control before halftime. Vardy was nearly sent through just before half time, but good positioning from Axel Tuanzebe got the United defender between Leicester and the ball, and a frustrated Ndidi fouled him through the back. They won a free kick in a good position in first half stoppage time, but Tielemans couldn’t get it over the wall. The sides went into the break level after an eventful start and nervy finish to the first half. Leicester the better side in both quality and chemistry, but unable to find much against the rotated United side.

The second half began with United on the front foot. They were sharper than Leicester, and could have gone 2-1 up on a free kick after 8 minutes. Greenwood tried to meet the Alex Telles delivery with a glancing header, but just missed making good contact. Van De Beek and Matic were doing well to win the ball back in midfield, and the press of the attackers was equally difficult for Leicester to deal with.

Leicester’s first look at goal in the second half came around the hour mark. Ihenacho was sent in on goal, and forced a good save from De Gea at the near post. After some scrambling United were able to somewhat clear the ball, but not the danger. Brendan Rodgers’ men struggled coming out of the break, but perhaps the urgency of their league position slipping away had started to kick in.

Some changes were made by both managers on the attacking end, but before any of them could make an impact Leicester scored through Soyuncu on a corner kick. Cavani and Rashford were on for Greenwood and Elanga to search for another goal, but no changes to the midfield gave little reinforcement going forward. Little changed for United, and Leicester nearly made it 3-1 in the 73rd. Vardy headed the ball back across goal towards Youri Tielemans at the back post, but slid into the post instead. He was slow to get up, but able to carry on.

Ole, clearly wanting to get something from the match, brought on Bruno Fernandes for the final 10 minutes. It gave the Reds a more energy in attack, and he got a chance of his own before too long, just mis-hitting a half volley to send it wide of goal. There was urgency from United to equalize, but Leicester sat deep to defend their lead well to see out the win.

It wasn’t the best of matches despite the importance of the occasion for the top 4 race, but some promising performances to build on for players on the fringes of the United first team. Manchester City officially clinched the title with the result, but it wasn’t in much doubt even with a United win. They go again in just two days, facing Liverpool in a huge match for their rivals’ hopes of European football next season.