Manchester United 2:1 Leicester City
An early penalty presented United with a 3rd minute lead as City lost 2-1 at Old Trafford on Friday night in the Premier League’s opening game..
Claude Puel started with Maguire, but his England team-mate only had a place on the bench, with Iheanacho up front. Possibly the biggest surprise was Amartey at right back with Ricardo right midfield.
And it was Amartey who gifted United the lead soon after kick off. A Sanchez shot was blocked by Morgan, and as the deflection went past Amartey he needlessly stuck out an arm. Pogba did a comedy run-up to the penalty spot before lashing the ball into the top right hand corner, giving Schmeichel no chance even though he guessed right.
However, after this rocky start to the season City settled into a passing rhythm that saw them dominating possession for much of the first half.
Maddison delivered a good free-kick into the area, which Pogba cleared, Ndidi fired a low long-range effort straight at de Gea and then Iheanacho sent an angled shot narrowly wide, but was marginally offside.
In the 28th minute Maddison was denied a debut goal when de Gea brilliantly saved his angled half-volley from 12 yards. Soon after Ricardo’s 30-yarder struck Pogba and looped up over the bar. Gray then sent Iheanacho in on goal, but he couldn’t quite shake off the attentions of Lindelof who snubbed the chance out.
Only late in the half did Schmeichel have anything to do, making comfortable saves from Pogba and Shaw.
After that early set-back City had controlled the game, without finding that cutting edge needed to get past de Gea.
The second half was more even, though there were few chances at either end. Schmeichel fielded a Darmian shot at the second attempt and de Gea had to palm away a Chilwell cross. But a change was needed, and Puel made a double substitution in the 63rd minute, bringing Vardy and Ghezzal on for Amartey and Maddision.
Mata had a shot deflected wide by Morgan’s arm and was furious to see a goal kick awarded.
City had a great chance in the 76th minute when Vardy’s persistence saw him rob Shaw of the ball on the byline, before delivering a low cross to the near-post. Although Gray got a foot to it, de Gea made another fine save to deny City again.
Two minutes later substitute Lukaku had the goal at his mercy 10 yards out, but Schmeichel advanced swiftly and blocked the shot with his legs.
With ten minutes remaining Puel brought Silva on for Iborra as City chased the game, but it was soon out of their reach.
In the 83rd minute Shaw ran into a yawning space on the left side of the penalty area. His first touch was poor but lucky and it took him round Ricardo, before he jabbed the ball across Schmeichel and into the net.
City pressed forward in the closing stages, but Vardy misconnected with a volley sending it way over the bar.
He did start the season with a goal, however, as the game went into time-added-on.
A Ricardo cross from the right evaded everyone in the area and struck the left hand post, where Vardy was rewarded for following it up and nodded home from a yard out.
A late corner, which Schmeichel came up for, caused some late tension, but it was headed wide and City had kicked off 2018-19 with a defeat.
It had been an encouraging display by City, but for two weak moments in defence not enough presence up front, and Claude Puel was happy enough: “The first half with all the chances we could have, we have to perform and to score and to come back into the game. We didn’t find the good clinical edge in this moment but it was a very good first half, good intensity in the play, good pressing, good quality and I was happy about the performance.”
United: De Gea, Darmian, Bailly, Lindelöf, Shaw, Fred (McTominay 76), Pereira, Pogba (Fellaini 84), Mata, Rashford, (Lukaku 67), Sánchez.
Substitutes: Martial, Smalling, Grant, Young.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey (Ghezzal 63), Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Adrien Silva (Iborra 80), Ndidi, Ricardo Pereira, Maddison (Vardy 63), Gray, Iheanacho.
Substitutes: Evans, Albrighton, Ward, Fuchs.
Referee: Andre Marriner. Attendance: 74,439.
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