Manchester United failed to beat Leicester City but the Red Devils stopped the Foxes party in its tracks. With an attendance of 75,275 football goers at Old Trafford on Sunday, both teams who wanted the same thing for different reasons (3 United points to advance towards the top 4 & 3 Foxes points to foreclose the tile) thrilled their fans to a 1-1 draw.
United 1 vs 1 Leicester
United teenage sensation Anthony Martial and Foxes Wes Morgan scored first-half goals in the stalemate that mirrored the November 2015 meeting at the King Power Stadium, providing a blow to United’s hopes of finishing in the Barclays Premier League top four with just three matches left to play. The Foxes could also have won the title at Old Trafford had they secured a victory, although their champagne remains on ice for the time being.
Louis van Gaal had told his players prior to kick-off that they “cannot allow” Leicester to win the title at Old Trafford and the Red Devils were clearly in no mood to host a coronation for the Foxes, judging by the bright start that led to the deadlock being broken on eight minutes.
The goal came from Anthony Martial, who met Antonio Valencia’s cross to execute a low near-post finish past the Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (junior brother of Peter Schmeichel, best remembered for his most successful years at Manchester United, whom he captained to the 1999 UEFA Champions League to complete the Treble, and for winning UEFA Euro 1992 with Denmark).
It was the 20-year-old Martial’s 15th strike of the season and that means he is now United’s top scorer this season.
STATISTICS AT HALF-TIME
Possession: United 71% Leicester 29%
Shots at goal: United 11 Leicester 5
Shots on target: United 3 Leicester 1
Corners: United 4 Leicester 2
STATISTICS AT FULL-TIME
Possession: United 70% Leicester 30%
Shots at goal: United 21 Leicester 14
Shots on target: United 6 Leicester 3
Corners: United 6 Leicester 5
United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Fellaini (Herrera 75′), Lingard (Mata 61′), Rooney, Martial, Rashford (Memphis 82′).
Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Darmian, Schneiderlin.
Booked: Lingard, Carrick, Rooney
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez (King 88′), Kanté, Drinkwater, Schlupp (Albrighton 77′), Okazaki (Gray 67′), Ulloa.
Subs not used: Amartey, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Schwarzer.
Sent off: Drinkwater.
Van Gaal believes United are still in the race for the Barclays Premier League top four but accepts it will be difficult following Sunday’s 1-1 draw against champions-elect Leicester City. This is what he said to MUTV afterwards . . .
ASSESSMENT OF THE MATCH
“We deserved more, we were the better team but we didn’t score. I think we played one of the best matches of this season and it was significant that the fans were applauding a draw. Normally they are not applauding a draw but they were applauding because this was an exciting game.”
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
“They were very well organised I think, and nevertheless we have created a lot of chances in the first half but also in the second half. But you have to finish and the last pass has to be better. Then also with the set-plays, we knew in advance that it is very difficult to stop them and we had to stop them from those set-plays. But you have seen a very good team and that is why the fans are applauding because it was a great match.”
VIDEO REPLAYS WOULD HELP REFEREES
“I have said already last week and for 30 years that we need a video referee and even when you don’t see the video with Memphis, for example, you do not know whether it is in the area or not.
But I have seen a penalty for [Marouane] Fellaini with [Robert] Huth, when he grabbed his hair and that was a foul. It was a penalty and the reaction of Fellaini was like a human being. Then we also have the red card maybe, for [Danny] Simpson on [Jesse] Lingard. I can also imagine why you wouldn’t whistle because it was not a heavy foul but he grabbed him also, so he could have given it.”
TOP-FOUR IS STILL POSSIBLE
“It is a big blow and it shall be very tough. It is also dependable on the result of Manchester City at Southampton, but I have said we have to win all of the matches because we have to close the gap. Now the pressure is less high for Manchester City than it was before the match against Leicester.”
I actually predicted a win for United. A draw is not a win but at least the Foxes didn’t get a coronation and were prevented from popping champagne bottles at the Theater of Dreams on Sunday May 1, 2016.
Up Man U!