Manchester United ceded further ground in the race for the Premier League’s top four on Saturday, as they drew 1-1 at home to Leicester City. It was a poor performance from Ralf Rangnick’s side, who salvaged a point courtesy of a Fred equaliser midway through the second half, but were otherwise largely impotent in attack.
In spite of Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo being ruled out through injury and illness respectively, Rangnick opted to leave Marcus Rashford on the bench and start Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes up top. The result was one of the most startlingly toothless and tedious halves of football witnessed all season; the only positive was that a struggling Leicester fared no better.
It was a tale of sterile possession, with both sides lacking a cutting edge. The best chance of the half came after almost half-an-hour, when a sloppy giveaway from Foxes defender Wesley Fofana allowed Fred to send Fernandes through, though the Portuguese midfielder scuffed his shot under pressure and Kasper Schmeichel saved with his legs. Ten minutes later Leicester responded, with a deep cross from James Madison volleyed narrowly wide by Harvey Barnes at the back post, in what proved the last real chance of the first half.
Within ten minutes of the restart, Rangnick had seen enough, and withdrew a hot-headed Scott McTominay for Rashford. However, it was Leicester that broke the deadlock past the hour, when James Maddison swung a beautiful deep cross from the left into the United box, and Kelechi Iheanacho flung himself at the ball to head past De Gea.
Fortunately, Leicester’s lead was short-lived. Just three minutes after Iheanacho’s opener, a goal-kick from Schmeichel was intercepted by Raphaël Varane and smartly flicked into Fernandes’s path by Fred. The Portuguese attacker’s low shot was half-parried by Schmeichel, and the onrushing Fred was on hand to smash the rebound into the roof of the net from close range.
Leicester would have retaken the lead with 20 minutes remaining were it not for the sublime reflexes of De Gea, who leapt to his right to tip a Fofana header around the post. United were given another reprieve ten minutes later, when a Maddison goal was ruled out after VAR review for a foul in the build-up by Iheanacho. It was a poor performance from Rangnick’s men, and despite a late sortie, they were lucky to escape with a point.