Axel Tuanzebe own goal earns Leicester draw with Manchester United

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scored for Manchester United but Leicester levelled twice to end the visitors’ away winning run

Manchester United led twice but ultimately failed to win an away league match for the first time this season, as the unfortunate Axel Tuanzebe deflected a shot by Jamie Vardy into his own goal five minutes from time.

Leicester deserved that bit of luck and a point from an entertaining game in which both sides demonstrated the qualities, and shortcomings, that account for their positions. The teams who began the day in second and third place in the Premier League produced a result and performances to satisfy the leaders, Liverpool.

Marcus Rashford had put United on course for an 11th successive away league win but Harvey Barnes quickly equalised for the hosts before United’s outstanding player, Bruno Fernandes, put his side 2-1 up, a lead they did not hold for long.

“We feel disappointed,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “The boys are flat in the dressing room because we created enough chances to score more goals.”

The first of those chances fell to Rashford after less than 80 seconds as United started with the confidence of a team accustomed to winning on their travels. But the forward was uncharacteristically sloppy with his finish, heading over from six yards after a perfect cross from the left by Fernandes. That was the start of a topsy-turvy day for Rashford, who went on to open the scoring before missing another clear opportunity and departing before the end with a shoulder injury. “Hopefully it’s not too serious,” said Solskjær.

United also lost Victor Lindelöf to an injury, the Swede being replaced in the 66th minute by Tuanzebe. Until then Lindelöf had filled in well at right-back in the absence of Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Bruno Fernandes scores Manchester United’s second goal.
Bruno Fernandes scores Manchester United’s second goal. Photograph: Richard Pelham/Richard Pelham NMCPool

With Scott McTominay and Fred stationed in front of the back four, United left little room for James Maddison to pull strings for Leicester without defending as deeply as visitors such as West Ham and Everton had when winning at the King Power earlier in the season. United were more enterprising than those teams had been but were not particularly ingenious in possession, with Fernandes an exception as usual.

United’s opening goal in the 23rd minute was a microcosm of the Portuguese’s career so far at the club where he often has to excel to rise above the mediocrity around him. A shoddy pass by Dan James forced Fernandes to stretch just to get a touch to the ball at the edge of the area, and his improvisation wrongfooted the home defence and turned into an ideal assist for Rashford, who swept the ball into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Fernandes was at fault, however, when Leicester equalised eight minutes later. Wilfred Ndidi ambushed him midway inside the United half and offloaded to Maddison, who helped the ball on to Barnes, who lashed it into the net from the edge of the area. David de Gea in his prime would probably have pawed the shot out but the goalkeeper, who had needed Eric Bailly to rescue earlier after a bungled attempt to play his way out from the back, showed no sign of world class reflexes as Barnes’s shot whizzed a few yards to his right and into the net.

Fernandes should have restored United’s lead before half-time but headed over the bar after a free-kick from the left by Luke Shaw.

Fernandes might have done better on the counterattack early in the second half but James was unable to put him through after the Portuguese had created an opening with a nifty dummy, the Welshman’s pass allowing Wesley Fofana to intervene.

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United continued to be dangerous on the break. Rashford raced on to a defence-splitting pass from Fred on the hour but Kasper Schmeichel did well to beat away the forward’s powerful drive from 15 yards.

With 15 minutes to go, Solskjær used his bench to decisive effect, replacing Anthony Martial with Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan soon showed his cleverness, dropping deep to accept a pass from Bailly before turning and slipping the ball through to Fernandes, who burst into the space vacated by the striker and finished emphatically.

Brendan Rodgers replied by making his first substitution of the match and that, too, paid off swiftly, as the newcomer, Ayoze Pérez, exchanged passes with James Justin down the right before crossing for Vardy, who had made a canny run to find space in the box and then enjoyed a slice of good fortune as his shot, which had been heading wide, took a nick off Tuanzebe to get rerouted into the net.

Contributor

Paul Doyle at the King Power Stadium

The GuardianTramp

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