Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has guided Manchester United into the Champions League in his first full season as boss at Old Trafford.
Their final Premier League match with Leicester was a winner-takes-all clash and the Red Devils came out on top, though the result was in the balance for three-quarters of the game. Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes hit the woodwork but couldn’t break through and they paid the price.
United’s season has been transformed by the January signing of Bruno Fernandes, who made several Premier League 2020 highlights, and he won the match with a penalty midway through the second half.
This fixture has tended to go one way in the past, with the Red Devils winning the last three meetings by the odd goal, but they doubled their lead as Leicester threw caution to the wind.
It was hard on the Foxes who now head to the Europa League, but there will be celebrations in the red half of Manchester tonight.
Highlights of the game
Mason Greenwood was the man on the spot in United’s crucial 1-1 draw with West Ham last week. At 18 years of age, he is the first teenager to reach double figures in the Premier League since Wayne Rooney.
And he showed exactly why the Manchester United faithful are getting so excited about him when he ghosted in to meet a Marcus Rashford cross from deep, but his header flew inches over.
Leicester had a chance when Nemanja Matic lost the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, but when it fell invitingly for Wilfred Ndidi he blasted over. And then, after a three-on-two break, Kelechi Iheanacho had a free shot on goal but scuffed his shot which David de Gea fumbled, but Vardy was denied a follow-up by the offside flag.
The Foxes had another opening on 33 minutes. In a well-worked move, Youri Tielemens had time to pick his spot and tried to slide it into the corner but it rolled agonizingly wide. Vardy had a chance to put Leicester ahead but miscued.
The Red Devils then had their best chance of the half when Paul Pogba found Rashford on the edge of the Leicester box but he hit it well wide. Martial had a shot blocked as United finished the half strongly and Rashford tested Kasper Schmeichel with an angled drive.
Martial was clean through on goal in the first move of the second half but James Justin put in a well-timed tackle when the French striker showed him too much of the ball.
Then, with half an hour of the season remaining, Vardy came within inches of scoring the crucial goal. Tielemens curled in a free-kick from the left and the striker looped a header up and over De Gea, but it bounced away off the angle of post and crossbar.
And then came the big moment, with 20 minutes remaining. Martial was through again and pursued by Jonny Evans and Wes Morgan. Evans took the ball and Morgan took the man and the referee pointed to the spot.
Bruno Fernandes, who had been having a quiet afternoon, stepped up and, as Schmeichel danced around on the line, he rolled the ball calmly home.
Leicester needed two and they almost scored their first when Vardy shot and the rebound fell to Harvey Barnes, but he scooped his effort into the arms of the grateful De Gea. And as the Foxes piled forward, Morgan had a great chance to make amends but he took a wild swing and missed the ball completely.
Demarai Gray had a free-kick deflected over the bar but that was the last real chance Leicester had. Their day ended sadly when Evans earned a straight red card for an over-the-top challenge on Scott McTominay.
The game was up, and it was cruel on Leicester when Jesse Lingard took advantage of a Schmeichel howler to slot home the second.
We knew we were in for a tight game with a glance at the pre-match Premier League 2020 betting odds here at SBOBET, and so it was. Manchester United dominated possession, while the Foxes won the shot count by 14 to seven and there were three shots on target each.
The Foxes held a 14-point lead over fifth place on 31st January and are left to rue the delay in action caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. But United benefited and are back in the Champions League.
Bruno’s strike was the Red Devils’ 14th Premier League penalty of the season which is a new record, and their 20th in all competitions.
Jamie Vardy has a consolation: winning the Golden Boot with 23 goals, one ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Ings.
The Red Devils are in action again soon in the Europa League. They have a second leg Round of 16 match against LASK but the tie is done and dusted as United already have a 5-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Leicester can start to prepare for the 2020/21 season and wonder what might have been.
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