Leicester 2-2 Manchester United: Jamie Vardy ends Red Devils’ superb run of away wins in Boxing Day cracker
standard– Manchester United’s remarkable run of away victories came to an end as they missed the chance to go second in the Premier League despite leading twice at Leicester on Boxing Day.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had put together an extraordinary sequence of 14 successive wins on the road across all competitions and went ahead at the King Power Stadium through Marcus Rashford and later Bruno Fernandes, though the Foxes showed brilliant spirit in a pulsating festive encounter as levellers from Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy prevented them from being leapfrogged in the table by their opponents.
It was almost the perfect start for the visitors, with Fernandes clipping a lovely cross over for the unmarked Rashford, who somehow headed over from just yards out.
Vardy – passed fit after a knock that forced him off in the win at Tottenham last weekend – then volleyed over and dragged a shot wide from an offside position after being played clean through on goal moments after David De Gea was fortunate to get away with a weak pass inside his own box.
Leicester appeared to be targeting United’s right flank early, with Victor Lindelof pushed out to right-back and Eric Bailly making his first league appearance since October after impressing in the Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Everton and with Aaron Wan-Bissaka sidelined.
Rashford atoned for his early miss after 23 minutes, calmly slotting his 50th Premier League goal past Kasper Schmeichel after assist king Fernandes had managed to get a decisive toe to a pass that looked to have been played too far in front of him by Dan James after a throw-in on the far side.
Anthony Martial tried to pick out Rashford again soon after and Vardy’s shot was deflected into the hands of De Gea before Leicester pulled level less than 10 minutes after falling behind for the first time.
After Fernandes was caught in possession, James Maddison found Barnes and the former West Brom loanee took a couple of nice touches before shifting the ball onto his left foot and creating the necessary space for a blistering strike that flew past the unsighted De Gea and into the back of the net.
Fernandes nodded over a Luke Shaw free-kick before the interval as Leicester were again fortunate not to pay the price for slack marking inside their own box.
United sent on Paul Pogba less than 10 minutes into the second half in a bid to find more creativity in midfield, though were lucky not to concede again after a farcical handball from Bailly allowed Maddison the chance to fire in a free-kick that was flicked behind by Rashford in the wall.
Barnes just failed to pick out Vardy with a swerving cross before Schmeichel denied Rashford one-on-one with a strong one-handed save. Martial then quickly had the ball in the net, but was flagged offside as United began to really ramp up the pressure.
Leicester were playing some nifty one and two-touch football as Maddison was unable to connect with Barnes’ inviting cross as United saw Lindelof limp off with a back injury.
Jonny Evans made a crucial headed intervention to repel Fernandes’ cross with Rashford lurking behind and former Leicester star Harry Maguire headed over from a free-kick before Solskjaer threw on Edinson Cavani, who made a quick impact once again.
The Uruguayan threaded a perfect pass through for Fernandes, who expertly powered a low finish across Schmeichel and into the far corner.
However, Leicester proved their resilience again as Vardy levelled six minutes later, showing his trademark movement to evade the attentions of Bailly and guide Ayoze Perez’s cross in off substitute Axel Tuanzebe, who may yet be credited with an own goal.
A Boxing Day draw that best suits leaders Liverpool, who will have a chance to further extend their three-point lead at the summit when they face lowly West Brom on Sunday afternoon.
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