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Manchester United 1-1 Leicester: VAR spares Red Devils’ blushes

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Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four were further dented as they were held 1-1 by Leicester City, who were denied a winner by VAR.

United were without Cristiano Ronaldo due to illness and Ralf Rangnick’s decision to go without a recognised striker did not pay off for large parts of Saturday’s contest at Old Trafford.

The hosts found themselves behind when former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho headed in from a James Maddison cross, but Fred levelled just three minutes later.

Maddison thought he had struck a winner 10 minutes from time, though it was ruled out for an Iheanacho foul on Raphael Varane in the build-up, following the intervention of VAR.

Harvey Barnes was wayward on a few occasions in an underwhelming first half that saw United go closest to scoring when Kasper Schmeichel stretched out a leg to deny Bruno Fernandes.

Rangnick held off from changing things too drastically until introducing Marcus Rashford for Scott McTominay with 55 minutes played, coinciding with the game sparking into life.

Leicester opened the scoring when Iheanacho got in front of substitute Alex Telles and guided in Maddison’s delivery.

United’s response was a quick one, with Fred lashing into the roof of the net after Schmeichel helped Fernandes’ powerful drive into the midfielder’s path.

Leicester thought they had won it when Maddison beat David de Gea at his front post, only for VAR to adjudge Iheanacho had kicked Varane’s leg from under him.

United came close to making their good fortune count, but Jadon Sancho snatched at a chance before James Justin denied Rashford a stoppage-time tap-in.

What does it mean? United’s season drifting away

United were eliminated from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid in their most recent match, leaving a top-four finish in the Premier League as their only remaining aim. But they lost further ground here, leaving them level on points with Tottenham and three behind Arsenal, whom they have played one and two games more than respectively.

Leicester had won their last three against United in all competitions and were good value for the point, even if a late flurry of chances saw the hosts finish with an expected goals (xG) return of 1.04 to their opponents’ 0.96.

Fred strikes on landmark appearance

Brazil international Fred has been one of United’s more impressive performers of late and he was on the scoresheet again here to at least gain his side a point out of the game.

In doing so, the midfielder becomes the seventh player to score on his 100th Premier League appearance for United, and the first since Rashford in February 2019.

No Rash decision

United were without Ronaldo and the injured Edinson Cavani, yet Rashford again had a watching brief from the substitutes’ bench until brought on early in the second half.

The England international did not exactly make his minutes on the field count, though, as he managed just 13 touches and did not get a shot away or create any chances, albeit he was left frustrated when Anthony Elanga, from an offside position, took the ball off his toes late on.

Key Opta Facts

– United have won just one of their last six games in all competitions (D3 L2), after winning four (and drawing three) of the seven before that.
– Leicester are now unbeaten in four Premier League meetings with United (W2 D2), after losing seven of the eight clashes before that (D1).
– United conceded a headed goal in the Premier League for only the second time this season, also shipping a header from Kortney Hause for Aston Villa on September 25.
– Maddison has been directly involved in 21 goals in all competitions this season, four more than any other Leicester player.
– Leicester have lost just one of their last five Premier League games (W3 D1), after losing three of the five beforehand (D2).

What’s next?

United travel to struggling Everton next Saturday, while Leicester host PSV in the first leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final on Thursday.

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