Leicester City decide title race and close in on Champions League football

Defenders on the mark for Brendan Rodgers’s side as they secure win at Old Trafford

Leicester City’s Luke Thomas  scores their  first goal  during the Premier League match against Manchester United  at Old Trafford. Photograph: Michael Regan/PA Wire

Leicester City’s Luke Thomas scores their first goal during the Premier League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photograph: Michael Regan/PA Wire

 

Manchester United 1 Leicester City 2

If it was a result that made Manchester City champions, it increased the chances Leicester City will join them in the Champions League next season. If both cities had suffered recent setbacks, the coronation of Pep Guardiola’s men had long appeared an inevitability. But as Leicester drew with 10-man Southampton and lost 4-2 to Newcastle, they felt vulnerable.

No longer, perhaps. Caglar Soyuncu may find himself more popular in the east Midlands and east Manchester alike after a decider that puts Leicester eight points clear of West Ham and nine ahead of Liverpool. They can look forward to the FA Cup final in greater confidence that a season’s work has not been in vain.

Soyuncu rendered them only the fourth team to win away at both Manchester clubs in the same Premier League campaign. While Jamie Vardy’s scoring drought continues, Leicester’s defenders compensated.

Luke Thomas found a stunning way to open his Premier League account. Soyuncu, one of those horribly culpable for the horror show against Newcastle, delivered a cathartic winner, soaring above Nemanja Matic to head in Marc Albrighton’s corner and inflict just United’s second defeat in 30 league games.

Their weakened team had sought valiantly to avoid it. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s was a selection to irritate Liverpool, as he made 10 changes with an eye on Thursday’s rearranged game.

The focus had been on Solskjær’s newcomers, but the deadlock was broken by one of those Rodgers had brought in. Thomas’s maiden Premier League goal came in spectacular style, the left back meeting Youri Tielemans’s deep cross with a volley that flew back across David de Gea.

The one player Solskjær retained was Mason Greenwood, who was flanked by two other 19-year-olds and struck with the aid of one of them. At a club with a tradition of teenage wingers, Solskjær fielded two, in Amad Diallo, who made a maiden start, and the debutant Anthony Elanga. The Ivorian made a quicker impact, registering a first assist at this level, and he has the sort of pace that can induce panic in defenders.

He and Thomas chased Juan Mata’s long ball and though the left back chested it, the United winger proved too strong and teed up Greenwood. He seemed to be crowded out by defenders, but one touch took him past three of them; his next was a precise shot that afforded Kasper Schmeichel no chance and gave him a sixth goal in as many league games.

Prompted by the ever-excellent Tielemans, Leicester showed belated signs of drive after the break. When the Belgian pierced the United defence with a pass, Kelechi Iheanacho had a fine chance to extend his scoring run, but De Gea blocked at his near post.

Both managers summoned the cavalry for the final quarter, in Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani and James Maddison, who Rodgers had benched in a switch to 4-4-2.

But one Leicester centre back scored, bringing different expressions from two he has partnered. The injured Jonny Evans grinned. Meanwhile, Harry Maguire was on crutches, ankle ligament damage meaning he missed a Premier League game for the first time since he left Leicester, but Solskjær said his captain could be fit for the Europa League final on May 26th. – Guardian

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