The most damning aspect of this dismal Manchester United performance is that Leicester City simply looked like the best-trained team. Ole Gunnar Solskjær had Cristiano Ronaldo, but Brendan Rodgers had a plan. Leicester, who hadn’t tasted league victory since August 28, were smarter and smarter from start to finish and there was no doubt they were deserved winners. Yuri Tielemans delivered a magnificent driving performance from the central midfielder, James Maddison rediscovered his creative zest and United were a sorry group, their record of 29 games unbeaten away in the top flight has come to an end.
Questions about Solskjær won’t go away after this tactically inconsistent display. United, who have taken a point from their last three games, couldn’t rely on individual quality to bail them out. A special goal from Mason Greenwood and a late equalizer from Marcus Rashford in his first appearance of the season couldn’t hide their terrible defense.
The tone was set by Harry Maguire, leaving the ball out of play from the first minute. United looked sloppy and distracted, especially when Leicester harassed them, and Maguire wasn’t the only player who struggled to own.
United were fortunate not to be punished for making a complicated new start. There was too much room in front of their backs on four occasions, which was to be expected with Paul Pogba playing in a deep midfielder role alongside Nemanja Matic, and it was difficult to detect much of a shot. attack. Jadon Sancho, who was making his third league start of the season, was calm on the left and there were times when it looked like United had no way of getting into Leicester, who were much safer after coming back to three backward.
It certainly helped that Leicester had Jonny Evans available to accompany Daniel Amartey and Caglar Soyuncu in central defense. Evans, who suffers from a lingering foot problem, was a calming presence and the hosts were also energized by some encouraging flashes of attack from James Maddison, who captured the crowd’s imaginations with some delicious touches in the role n ° 10.
Leicester were the brightest team during the opening period. Boubakary Soumare was clean and tidy in midfield, combining with Tielemans to beat Matic and Pogba. Wingers Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira were adventurous on the flanks and Maddison, whose form has been disappointing lately, was full of mischief.
The frustration for Leicester was that they had done little harm before succumbing to a moment of genius from Greenwood in the 19th minute. There didn’t seem to be much when the striker took a pass from Bruno Fernandes on the right and, seeing that Castagne had stepped back slightly, cut inside before unleashing a vicious left-footed strike that plunged and deviated to the right of Kasper Schmeichel.
The goal summed up United. A moment of individual quality had masked their lack of cohesion and they could have doubled their lead in the 28th minute, only for Schmeichel to make a smart save on Ronaldo’s deflected shot.
Leicester didn’t deserve to be behind. They kept pushing, almost equalizing when Maddison picked Pereira for a volley of inches and continued to put United under pressure. Jamie Vardy’s willingness to spin the chains made him a difficult opponent for Victor Lindelöf, who failed to convince instead of the injured Raphaël Varane, and the feeling that Solskjær had precipitated Maguire from a calf injury too soon. increased when the England defender made the mistake that led Tielemans to drag Leicester to the level.
It was an inexcusable goal for an allegedly superior team to concede and United had only to blame themselves. They had the situation under control after getting a free kick just outside their own zone and it was impossible to believe that they were unable to get out of trouble. Maguire was too slow to respond when Kelechi Iheanacho challenged him and a bewildered David de Gea was taken out of position when Tielemans, who took a quick glance, drank a glorious chip in the upper right corner of the right.
There was no sign of United improving after the break. Rashford replaced Sancho, who didn’t look like a £ 73million talent, but Leicester continued to dominate. It took some magnificent saves from De Gea to maintain United’s level.
A goal was on the way and it came when United failed to clear their lines for a corner. The ball fell to Patson Daka, who replaced the impressive Maddison, and although De Gea saved the Zambian striker’s low shot, the rebound bounced off Soyuncu to score from close range.
United, who had spent most of the second half missing counter attacks and giving free kicks, had to react. They did it from scratch, Lindelöf’s long straight ball freeing Rashford to break free and insistently shoot Schmeichel, and at this point the stage looked set for Solskjær’s side to claim another unlikely victory.
Not this time, however. This time United got exactly what they deserved when Leicester attacked from the left and Aaron Wan-Bissaka sold off with a ridiculous challenge, allowing Ayoze Pérez to burst into the area and bring the ball back to the middle , where Vardy was waiting to detonate an ascending shot past De Gea.
The lack of tactical discipline was astonishing and United quickly collapsed on another free kick. Tielemans sent a free kick from the left and the center somehow drifted to Daka, who was free to complete United’s humiliation.