Manchester United 1:1 Leicester City
City overcame a stuttering start to earn a hard-fought point against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday…
Claudio Ranieri stuck with the starting XI that beat Swansea so convincingly, but they got off to a nervy start in their quest for a victory that would seal the league title.
City couldn’t get any possession and it was one-way traffic towards Schmeichel’s goal. Rashford had a shot blocked by Huth, before the Red Devils took an 8th minute lead.
Valencia delivered a precise ball from the right that found Martial in space at the far post and his crisply struck low finish went under Schmeichel.
Five minutes later Schmeichel prevented this early setback from becoming a disaster: Fellaini teed up Lingard for a well-struck, low shot which the City keeper did well to get a hand to.
City rallied after this, and delighted their 3,000 strong (plus hundreds in the home areas) following with a 17th minute equaliser.
Drinkwater delivered a free-kick from the right, and Morgan evaded the scrum on the six yard line to nod home past De Gea.
It was a more even encounter now, with play flying from end to end.
Rooney dragged a shot wide, Schlupp had an effort blocked by Valencia, and then Lingard and Simpson had a race to goal, but pulled each other over before Schmeichel slid in to hoof the ball clear.
City ended the half on top, with De Gea beating away Schlupp’s cross, loud penalty appeals when Rojo crashed into Mahrez, Drinkwater and Morgan both going close and 1-1 at the break was a fair reflection of the game.
One goal could win City their first ever title, and they pressed forward.
Morgan sent a header straight at De Gea, and the energetic Okazaki sent one shot wide and saw another cleared off the line by Martial.
Lingard failed to test Schmeichel with a curling effort, while Ulloa sent a header narrowly over.
There followed a rash of yellow cards, which were to damage City more than United later on, Lingard, Carrick, Rooney and Drinkwater all being booked.
Okazaki overhead shot, on target before it was blocked, was his last action of the game as he was replaced by Gray.
A moment of Mahrez magic then saw him glide past Rojo and Carrick before sending his shot just too close to De Gea.
With Albrighton on for Schlupp for the closing stages City continued to look for the goal that would win the title. Ulloa look very tired as he chested and volleyed an effort at De Gea, he didn’t have any support in the attack as Rooney had pulled Gray over, but the United skipper escaped a second yellow.
Unfortunately Drinkwater wasn’t so lucky in the 87th minute, picking up a harsh second yellow for a very weak challenge on Depay. Fortunately, referee Michael Oliver awarded a free-kick when what little offence there was occurred on the line.
Schmeichel got a fist to Rooney’s free-kick and the ten men continued to battle.
In four minutes of time-added-on there was only one truly scary moment – Martial, down the right, was tackled by Fuchs but the ball rolled across the penalty area… the alert Schmeichel beat Mata to it by inches.
City held out until the final whistle, the hard-earned point now reducing Spurs’ margin for error to zero.
Claudio Ranieri revealed that he might not be in the country of the big moment arrives on Monday… “I’d like to watch the match tomorrow, but I think I’m on a flight back from Italy so it’s difficult for me to watch the match. Maybe I’ll find out when I land.
For us, it was important to show our character, our mentality. The beginning wasn’t good, but after I very appreciate our performance. We suffer all the matches because we know what we are. We know every match we have to work hard.”
That hard work could be rewarded in the most monumental way tonight, depending on the outcome of a game in West London…
United: De Gea, Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini (Herrera 75), Lingard (Mata 61), Rashford (Memphis 82), Rooney, Martial. Subs Not Used: Romero, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Kante, Drinkwater, Schlupp (Albrighton 77), Mahrez (King 88), Okazaki (Gray 67), Ulloa. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.
Referee: M Oliver. Attendance: 75,275.
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