MAN UNITED 3, LEICESTER CITY 1
Manchester United disposed of bottom-of-the-table Leicester City with comparative ease to strengthen climb into third place in the Barclays Premier League.
First-half goals from Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and Wes Morgan, who found his own net, sealed victory which keeps the team on track for a return to the Champions League next season.
United were hardly ever troubled as the second half became a non event, though Leicester pulled a goal back near the end through Marcin Wasilewski.
And it was a far cry to United’s 5-3 defeat in September at Leicester where they suffered a spectacular collapse having been 3-1 ahead with half an hour left.
This time United were never seriously troubled as they won at what can be described as a canter.
United manager Louis van Gaal was happy with his side’s performance, especially in the light of the loss at Leicester earlier in the campaign.
He said: “At half time I asked the players to kill the game when you remember what happened at Leicester when we didn’t kill the game.
“We killed it too much and played more balls backwards and sideways than forward. We have to learn to be patient and di not take risky passes, but when passes are available to play forward.
“I told my players I am happy. It is a good result and have killed the game. There were only two moments when we lost concentration, and they scored from one of them, though we could have scored two or three more goals.”
Van Gaal added it was difficult in the opening half when Leicester defended with two banks of four in front of their keeper while one of their front players also dropped back explaining that gave his team little space to play in.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson claimed United’s opening goal was clearly offside which did not help his side’s cause.
“This was a bonus game. Our season will be defined by results of games against teams around us,” he said.
Wayne Rooney, van Persie and Luke Shaw returned for United in place of Marouane Fellaini, James Wilson and the injured Michael Carrick.
Van Gaal operated with the back four he dislikes while there was a midfield diamond with Angel Di Maria operating just behind the front two.
Leicester had former United players Danny Simpson, Ritchie De Laet and Danny Drinkwater in their starting line up.
It was not until midway through the opening period that United carved out their first clear-cut chance when Shaw’s cross was met by van Persie whose shot looped narrowly wide in what had been a lack-lustre opening.
The breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Dutchmen Daley Blind and van Persie combined with deadly effect.
Blind’s won the ball in midfield and his excellent lob released van Persie who fired high past Aussie keeper Mark Schwarzer, though replays suggested he was clearly offside.
And four minutes later United doubled their lead with a superbly worked goal. Van Persie sprayed a diagonal pass to release Di Maria on the left. He burst into box only to see his shot parried by Schwarzer for Falcao, sliding in, to find the net from four yards for his fourth goal for the club.
United added a third goal just before the break when Rooney’s corner was flicked on by Blind and the ball flew into the net off the head of the hapless Morgan.
The second half was positively poor as United were comfortably ahead and Leicester were never going to fox their way back into the game.
Adnan Januzaj and Di Maria both blazed over when well placed.
Leicester fans were given something to cheer when they found the net with 10 minutes left when a cross from substitute Marc Albrighton was headed home at the far post by Wasilewski, the 300th Prenier League goal conceded by United at Old Trafford.
Former Aston Villa player Albrighton was Leicester’s most dangerous player and he could have further reduced the deficit, but saw his shot dip narrowly over the crossbar.