Manchester United 1, Leicester City 2
A defeat at Old Trafford for a weakened Manchester United at the hands of Leicester City saw rivals Manchester City win the Premier League.Embed from Getty Images
It was United’s first defeat in 15 games in the middle of an impossible schedule which has seen the Reds play their third game since Thursday night with a showdown against Liverpool coming this Thursday.
They say never make changes before a set piece and Manchester United fell behind for a second time in their game against Leicester City when Caglar Soyuncu’s header put the Foxes in front right after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two attacking changes.
Mason Greenwood had levelled the scores quickly after Luke Thomas had given the Foxes an early lead but the Reds could not hold on after Greenwood and debutant Anthony Elanga were withdrawn in the second half.
Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, and Bruno Fernandes were thrown on but United could not force another save from Kasper Schmeichel despite throwing everything they could at Leicester in the last 10 minutes.
A first win in 23 years at Old Trafford for the Foxes also boosted Leicester ahead of their tough top four run-in – leaving them 6 points clear of West Ham in fifth who have 3 games to play.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulated Manchester City on their title but sent a clear message to the Old Trafford board on what’s needed next season to challenge them.
He said: “Congratulations to them – they had a great season, but if we want to take up a challenge with City we need to strengthen the squad.”
And the Norwegian explained: “We’ve done well against them but we need to take the next step with a couple more players.
On tonight’s game, Solskjaer was proud of the players selected tonight, and said: “We started off a bit slow as you might expect with so little time to prepare, a few nerves. But after they scored we had nothing to lose.
The schedule forced the ten changes on United tonight, with Liverpool just two days away for their fourth game in a week.
Of the crazy schedule that forced Solskjaer to rotate, the Norwegian said: “Never again, it can’t be like this, it’s unheard of.
“If this game was tomorrow no problem, and the next one after that on Saturday.
“But the players can’t perform at this level like that.”
“We’ve not had too much time to prepare, we were happy at half time but they got a goal from a corner that was a throw in.
“This is not a night to think about Liverpool, but we could have got a point towards the end and should have created more in the second half.”
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers was quick to congratulate Pep Guardiola after
He said: “Congratulations to Pep and his team.
“They are a wonderful team, in the Champions League final, champions of our country, and they have deserved it.”
Rodgers also paid tribute to his players who have taken Leicester City to the brink of the Champions League next season with a famous victory at Old Trafford.
He said: “We started well, but when we scored we went sloppy and they scored.
“We needed to keep the speed in our game in the second half and get the confidence to play without fear.
Although the pre-match talk may have been about the changed side that United put out, Rodgers commented:
“We had Luke Thomas at 19 and Wesley Fofana at 20 and both of them were exceptional.
“The players have been brilliant and have overachieved when you look at the big teams around us.
“It’s a huge victory for us and we can enjoy the FA Cup final this weekend.”
Elanga made his debut for the Reds as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made ten changes to the side that beat Aston Villa on Sunday and he was joined in the side by Amad Diallo who was making his Premier League bow.
Captain Harry Maguire missed out with ankle ligament damage putting his participation in the Europa League final in a fortnight in doubt with the Euros participation starting in June.
Only Mason Greenwood remained in the side from the win at Aston Villa on Sunday and the teenager didn’t finish the game at Villa Park.
The United bench was predictably strong, with Edinson Cavani – who signed a new deal to stay until the end of next season – leading the expensive bench – but with United already qualified for the Champions League next season there was no need to risk players ahead of a European final.
Brendan Rodgers made only two changes but had one eye on the FA Cup final at the weekend as they missed the injured Jonny Evans. Ayoze Perez and Luke Thomas came in for James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira.
The Foxes had some positive moments against the inexperience United side, with Jamie Vardy going close but Thomas volleyed the visitors into the lead after 10 minutes after a cross from the right by Youri Tielemens.
It was his first ever Premier League goal for the Foxes for Thomas – who at 19 years and 335 days became the youngest player to score his first Premier League goal at Old Trafford against United.
And he was clearly delighted, saying after the game, saying: “There’s no better feeling when you see the ball go into the top corner, especially at Old Trafford.
“We’ve got three games left including the FA Cup final, hopefully we can get what we want.
“It’ll be massive at the end of the season.”
United were level 5 minutes later though when Greenwood finished superbly after Thomas switched off and Amad Diallo created space to lay the ball off to the striker who wriggled his way through defenders and rolled the ball inside the back post for his 12th goal of the season.
Axel Tuanzebe cleared Vardy’s cutback before Kelechi Iheanacho could reach it while De Gea had to tip over a Tielemans cross into the box after 27 minutes.
Both sides tried to find openings but neither could find much of an opening with Iheanacho overhitting a through ball to Vardy but both sides traded fouls without producing any clear end product in the rain after the outstanding opening period.
Both sides were finding it hard to create real chances and Iheanacho had to resort to curling a long range speculator wide while Greenwood headed an Alex Telles free kick wide under pressure from Timothy Castagne.
The game suited Leicester as it slowed down after the break and Iheanacho was denied by a close range save by De Gea after he was sent through by Tielemans.
James Maddison was introduced for Perez after 65 minutes with Leicester needing his invention in midfield.
And United also made changes – Elanga and Greenwood were withdrawn for Cavani and Marcus Rashford as United made their first changes.
But the Foxes went ahead a minute later from a corner when Caglar Souyuncu rose evaded Rashford and rose above Matic for his first Leicester goal since November 2019.
Tielemans was blocked by Tuanzebe as he tried to extend the Leicester lead and the Belgian almost reached Vardy’s header across the 6 yard box, colliding painfully with the post.
Maddison shot wide after he evaded Donny van de Beek before Bruno Fernandes was United’s last change, coming on with 12 minutes to spare for Amad Diallo to try and rescue a point.
And Hamza Choudhury came on for Vardy as Leicester looked to protect their lead, and fitness of their main striker ahead of the FA Cup final, with 10 minutes to go.
Fernandes screwed a shot wide after Juan Mata and Cavani combined to cut the ball back to him.
Latest pressure saw United press hard for the equaliser in the closing minutes but they found Leicester in no mood to give up their lead with Wilfried Ndidi heading clear and Wesley Fofana blocking another ball into the box as the frustrated Reds failed in their bid to salvage another point from a losing position.
GOALS – Manchester United 1, Leicester City 2
Man Utd 0, Leicester City 1: 10. Luke Thomas volleyed Leicester City into the lead after meeting Youri Tielemens cross with a rifled effort into the top corner.
Man Utd 1, Leicester City 1: 15. Amad Diallo got the ball off Luke Thomas and created enough space to find Mason Greenwood who wriggled free of two defenders before slotting low past Kasper Schmeichel to level the scores.
Man Utd 1, Leicester City 2: 65. Caglar Soyuncu rose above Nemanja Matic having evaded Marcus Rashford to head home Marc Albrighton’s corner.
MATCH STATS – Manchester United 1, Leicester City 2
Man Utd: De Gea, Williams, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Telles, van de Beek, Matic (C), Diallo (Fernandes 78), Mata, Elanga (Rashford 65), Greenwood (Cavani 65)
Man Utd subs not used: Henderson, Lindelof, Pogba, Fernandes, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, McTominay
Goal: Greenwood 15
Leicester City: Schmeichel (C), Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu, Albrighton, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas, Perez (Maddison 65), Iheanacho, Vardy (Choudhury 80)
Leicester City subs not used: Ward, Amartey, Pereira, Mendy, Praet, Fuchs, Maswanhise
Goals: Thomas 10; Soyuncu 66
Referee: Craig Pawson