Saturday, 11 August 2018

Match report: United 2-1 Leicester

A Paul Pogba penalty and Luke Shaw's first ever senior goal saw Jose Mourinho's United start the 2018-19 season with a solid win over Claude Puel's Leicester on opening night. After a turbulent summer, the Reds got off the mark for the new campaign with a hard-fought win in a match in which both sides were missing several key men.
 Pogba, a surprise starter having won the World Cup with France barely a month ago, was captain for the night in the absence of Antonio Valencia and made a mockery over reports that he's unhappy at Old Trafford with a dominant, man of the match performance.United came flying out of the blocks and were handed - quite literally - the chance to move ahead after only 75 seconds. An Alexis Sanchez shot deflected off Wes Morgan and was flicked away by the arm of the wrong-footed Daniel Amartey. After a short delay, referee Andre Marriner rightly awarded the penalty and Pogba made no mistake with a composed and nonchalant spot-kick, only 26 days after leading France to World Cup glory in Russia. This has the makings of an huge season for our midfield maestro, off the back of that second world title for Les Bleus and with Barcelona having come knocking during the summer.

Kelechi Iheanacho flashed a shot wide, Pogba cleared well under pressure from the impressive Demarai Gray before David de Gea was soon called into action. As Puel's side pressed for a leveller, DDG denied debutant James Maddison when he tipped his low effort around the post. Fred, on his United bow, caught the eye with an impressive array of passing, one of which found Shaw in behind, but Kasper Schmeichel did well to smother. Eric Bailly, one of the few Reds to have a summer off, thwarted Iheanacho before Juan Mata went close on the counter attack at the other end in an increasingly end to end encounter.
Substitute Jamie Vardy forced a mistake from Shaw, but De Gea saved well once more when he picked out former City man Iheanacho, and the Reds own replacement, World Cup semi finalist Romelu Lukaku, then had a one on one effort deflected over by the sprawling Schmeichel. The burly Belgian possibly should have done better on that occasion, but it did not matter as Shaw put the result beyond any lingering doubt with a clinical finish across Ricardo Pereira and beyond the advancing keeper eight minutes from time. The young full-back, much maligned and oft-criticised by his manager, reeled away in celebration after his first ever goal in senior football, eight years since his Southampton debut.

In a flurry of late drama, Vardy bundled in an untidy consolation with his head after Pereira's deflected cross rebounded off a post in the second minute of added on time. But still there was time for almost a late feat of Leicester escapology, when Schmeichel - up for a last-gasp corner - won the header but could only put it wide. Old Trafford let out a collective intake of breath and the game was won. 

The Premier League is back and United begin win victory. COYR!

United Faithful Man of the Match: Paul Pogba. Special mention to Shaw who pushed him close
Overall team performance: 6/10

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