Sunday 26 July 2020

Match report: Leicester City 0-2 Man Utd

Manchester United secured Champions League football at the expense of Leicester City after a tense final day victory at the King Power Stadium.
Coming into the final furlong a point ahead of the hosts, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side needed a point to be sure of a place at Europe's top table and pip a Leicester side in strong contention for so much of the season.
Bruno Fernandes put the Reds ahead from the penalty spot before Jesse Lingard's rare goal with virtually the last action secured the result for the Reds - who finish third in the Premier League, ahead of Chelsea on goal difference. 
It caps a remarkable turnaround from Solskjaer and his young side, with the Reds 14 points behind Brendan Rodgers side after 26 matches. The Reds only moved into the top four in midweek, but yet secure their second-highest league finish since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson seven years ago.

Whilst a point would have sufficed for United, Leicester were in need of only a victory but came up short with Chelsea's win over Wolves meaning the east Midlands side finish fifth.
Solskjaer picked his strongest possible side, and United started brightly with two openings in the early minutes.
Brandon Williams was scythed down by the impressive Wilfried Ndidi in the box, and thenMason Greenwood headed over the bar having been picked out by Marcus Rashford.
Ndidi flashed an effort wide and Marc Albrighton was also off target before David de Gea was called into action for the first time shortly before the first drinks break. Albrighton found Iheanacho with a reverse ball, De Gea spilled his effort and Jamie Vardy reacted quickest. However, the Golden Boot winner was flagged offside having eagerly followed up on the rebound. 

Fernandes then also had an effort chalked out by the linesman, but Leicester remained a threat with Youri Tielemans next to go close with a 25-yarder.
The Reds finished an evenly fought first half on top and should have gone in ahead at the interval. A spinning pass by Paul Pogba took James Justin out the game to find United's joint leading scorer, but our no.10 failed to direct the ball goalwards, instead sending his lobbed effort wastefully wide.

Martial's shot was deflected wide by former United man Jonny Evans after another sublime pass from Pogba, and from the resultant corner Schmeichel beat away a fizzing effort from Rashford as the Reds started to exert their authority.

The second half started as the first had ended, with United on top and dictating the tie. Martial was thwarted by good defending from Wes Morgan and Greenwood fired wide, but the game was still on a knife edge and Vardy went close twice in quick succession.

The Foxes clipped the top of the crossbar with a header and then flashed an effort wide as the much needed breakthrough remained frustratingly out of reach. 

As the match headed to a nerve-jangling finale, United fans were finally able to draw breath when the Reds were awarded a penalty. Martial was scythed down by a combination of Morgan and Evans, the penalty was given after a VAR check and Fernandes slotted the resultant spot-kick beyond Schmeichel for a crucial advantage.

Leicester now had no option but to pour forward and the hosts created the first chance after the second drinks break, when substitute Harvey Barnes was denied by De Gea.
Morgan's air shot failed to test the United keeper and another substitute, Demarai Gray had an effort deflected behind off Maguire.
The Foxes continued to push but the Reds remained resolute and snuffed out any opposition chances.
In stoppage time, former Red Evans was sent off for a late, high lunge on substitute Scott McTominay - earning a straight red card from referee Martin Atkinson.

The Reds put the seal on a successful mission accomplished in the final seconds when Schmeichel dawdled on the ball and sub Lingard dispossessed him and rolled home into an empty net. 

We are Champions League! Ole's at the wheel!

Overall team performance: 6/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Victor Lindelof. Immense. 

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