Leicester City 2:2 Manchester United
Jamie Vardy’s 50th Premier League goal, and a last gasp equaliser from Harry Maguire earned ten-man Leicester a point against Manchester United at the KPS on Saturday night…
Claude Puel made one change to his his last Premier League line-up with Fuchs in for Chilwell, and City had some defending to do as United probed for an opening in the early stages. Within the opening couple of minutes, Lingard and Mata had shots blocked before an unmarked Smalling sent a header over from close in.
Lingard then fired in a shot that took a touch off Maguire, and Schmeichel did well to react to the change of flight and touch it over.
Schmeichel then had to be alert to save a well struck 18 yarder from Pogba as the United pressure continued.
Martial beat Simpson down the left and crossed, but Lukaku’s attempted over-head kick went all wrong.
But all United’s early domination came to nought when City took a 27th minute lead with a superbly worked counter.
A well-judged 50 yard pass from Ndidi sent Mahrez racing forward, he let the ball bounce over his head and then, faced with Smalling, he then simply waited a few seconds before teeing up Vardy who had raced forward ahead of the defenders and he slotted his 50th Premier League goal past de Gea.
This lead for City appeared to rattle United. Pogba sent a long range shot a mile over the bar, and Lindelof was booked for a nasty challenge on Iborra.
City looked comfortable for a while, defending well and always poised to strike with a counter attack, but they couldn’t hold on to their lead until the break.
In the 39th minute Martial’s cross from the left took a deflection off Simpson and fell to Lingard who laid it back to Mata, who sent a precise shot through a crowded area into the bottom right hand corner.
City should have regained the lead a minute before the break when Albrighton delivered a cross from the right to the far post, but an unmarked Maguire took a heavy touch instead of attempting a first time shot and the chance was gone.
City began the second half well, with Mahrez back to his best. Matic earned a yellow card for a tug on the Algerian after he had ghosted round him, and then Mahrez roasted Young down the right before delivering a penetrating low cross. It reached Fuchs at the far post but he opted to blast rather than place, and his shot hit Lindelof.
Bu things started to go wrong for City in the 57th minute. Simpson had to limp out of the action, replaced by Armartey, and then United took the lead on the hour.
There was an air on tension as Mata lined up a free-kick on the edge of the area, and although it was brilliantly struck there were questions raised by Schmeichel’s efforts to save in what appears to be his Achilles’ heel as it flew into the net.
Claude Puel brought Okazaki on for Iborra in the 65th minute and roles were now reversed with City pressing forward, but prone to the swift counter attack.
United should have sealed the game in the 71st minute when Lukaku sent Lingard through, and he rounded Schmeichel before sending his shot against the post.
Amartey’s unhappy 17 minute cameo then came to an end as he picked up a second yellow card for a needless foul on Rashford, and City now faced an uphill task.
Another United break saw Pogba send Rashford in with only Schmeichel in front of him, but the City keeper got a fingertip to the ball before Rashford was upended, and Jon Moss made his best decision of the night.
In the 84th minute the inconsistent Moss racked up the wrath of the home fans further when Smalling used Maguire as a stepladder as they contested a high ball into the box, for as obvious a penalty as you could hope to see.
Smalling then picked up an injury as the clock ticked down and with no more subs United tried to reorganise their defence.
Smalling was returning to the pitch after some treatment when City delighted their fans with an equaliser in the 4th minute of time-added-on. Albrighton’s superb swinging cross to the far post saw Smalling leaving Maguire free and he presented the home crowd with a huge Christmas present with a neat finish.
City had narrowly avoided three home defeats in a week, with a display of huge character and a little luck.
Claude Puel was delighted with the result: “With a positive attitude we stayed in the game and continued to believe in ourselves. It was difficult but with our positive attitude we stayed in the game and believed in ourselves. It’s a good result for all of us because the belief keeps going. It’s fantastic for the future.”
Harry Christmas everyone…
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, (Amartey 57), Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Ndidi, Iborra (Okazaki 67), Mahrez, Gray (Chilwell 80), Albrighton, Vardy. Substitutes: King, Hamer, Dragovic, Slimani.
Man Utd: de Gea, Lindelöf, Smalling, Jones, Young, Pogba, Matic, Mata (Mkhitaryan 83), Lingard (Herrera 76), Martial (Rashford 71), Lukaku.
Substitutes: Rojo, Ibrahimovic, Romero, Shaw.
Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 32,202.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.