Manchester United recorded their third straight league win for the first time in nine months on Thursday, as they defeated Leicester City 1-0 in a forgettable encounter at the King Power Stadium. Jadon Sancho netted the only goal of the game midway through a comfortable first half, though Leicester recovered to apply some pressure in the second.
United boss Erik ten Hag named an unchanged lineup for the third consecutive match, meaning Casemiro again started from the bench; new signing Antony was ineligible on the same day as his move from Ajax was formalised. Yet the benefits of consistent selection were apparent throughout a first half in which a confident United dominated possession and took an early lead.
There was little in the way of clear-cut chances, even as United prodded and probed their way around Leicester’s final third, and the opening goal came almost from nothing. A long clearance from Foxes keeper Danny Ward was snaffled by Diogo Dalot, who spotted Bruno Fernandes lurking free in the right channel. Some lax Leicester defending meant United found themselves three-on-two; Fernandes quickly offloaded to Rashford, who sent Sancho through to round the keeper and slot into an empty net.
From there, United were untroubled to the halftime whistle. They demonstrated some intricate passing and fluid positional play, but lacked a cutting edge. They looked comfortable, and in many ways were, but ten Hag might have been frustrated by his side’s failure to convert their territory into a more convincing scoreboard advantage.
The fragility of United’s lead was underscored just five minutes into the second half, when a dipping James Maddison free-kick was palmed from under the crossbar by a flying David de Gea. The Foxes had started the second half with considerably more urgency than they’d finished the first, and a flurry of set-pieces forced United onto the back foot for the first time.
Ten Hag responded swiftly, introducing Casemiro in place of Anthony Elanga. Cristiano Ronaldo’s introduction followed few minutes later, with goalscorer Sancho making way. Yet Leicester continued to offer the greater attacking threat, with Harvey Barnes posing a particular danger down United’s right. With 10 minutes left, the visitors made a rare foray into Leicester’s half and almost killed the game off, but Jonny Evans made a goal-saving challenge to stop Christian Eriksen tapping in Ronaldo’s square ball.
United’s third and final change was another defensive one, with Fred introduced in place of Rashford. It was another solid but unspectacular performance from Rashford, and one can’t help but wonder whether United might have done more with their possession had they benefited from the injured Anthony Martial’s superior link-up play.
Leicester created a couple of late chances, but United hung on to take the points. There were certainly positives, not least in another solid display from the central defensive pairing of Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martínez, but this game won’t live long in the memory.