Jamie Vardy

Foxes Hit Back Twice In Pulsating Manchester United Draw

An enthralling showdown between Leicester City and Manchester United ended in a 2-2 draw at King Power Stadium as the Foxes twice came from behind to claim a first draw of the 2020/21 season on Boxing Day.
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The Foxes were unchanged as manager Brendan Rodgers opted to deploy the same 4-2-3-1 system which proved so fruitful in the previous Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Red Devils, meanwhile, arrived in the East Midlands riding the crest of a wave following six consecutive top-flight away wins, helping them to rise to within a point of Leicester.

The second-versus-third festive showdown on Filbert Way was action packed from referee Mike Dean's first whistle and the visitors were unlucky not to go in front within three minutes of kick-off.

A guilt-edged opportunity came about as Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes curled an inviting cross in for an unmarked Marcus Rashford in the area, but the England man nodded over the crossbar.

It was a lucky escape for the Foxes and Rodgers’ hosts looked to punish United, with Marc Albrighton seizing on a heavy touch from David De Gea, but he was unable to locate a colleague in the box.

Elsewhere, Jamie Vardy was played through, clear of the visitors’ backline, shortly afterwards. Although City’s No.9 ultimately missed the target, the linesman’s flag was raised shortly afterwards.

The Red Devils opened the scoring away from home for the first time in the Premier League this season on 23 minutes, though, as Daniel James’ pass was touched into Rashford’s path by Fernandes.

And the 23-year-old, with 12 goals in all competitions already to his name before the visit to King Power Stadium, duly dispatched a composed finish into the bottom corner.

City will have been forgiven for feeling unfortunate to be behind in an otherwise even contest in chilly conditions, and De Gea had to be on his toes to deny Vardy again, from just inside the area.

Not deterred by the setback of trailing early on, the Foxes were level less than 10 minutes later, with the ball eventually falling for Harvey Barnes on the cusp of United’s 18-yard area.

After taking a few touches and assessing his prospects, Leicester’s No.15 unleashed a fearsome drive, defying De Gea and rippling the back of the net in some style for his seventh goal in all competitions.

A vital interception from the impressive Youri Tielemans, with a raking sliding challenge on James, helped Leicester reach the interval on level terms before, early in the second half, Wesley Fofana also did well to deny the former Swansea City man.

James Maddison's well-struck free-kick clipped the wall for the Foxes, too, but the home side would need to rely on the talents of their goalkeeper on the hour-mark, with Kasper Schmeichel making an outstanding stop.

Out of the blue, Rashford was free in space again, away from City's defensive line, and his powerful effort required a strong hand from the three-time Danish Player of the Year to keep the score at 1-1.

Anthony Martial did have the ball in the net for the Red Devils, until the linesman's flag was raised for offside, before former Fox and current United captain Harry Maguire also nodded over from a Luke Shaw free-kick.

The introduction of Edinson Cavani by the visitors, meanwhile, immediately led to a swing in fortunes, as the Uruguay international fed Fernandes to restore United's one-goal advantage with a tidy finish.

As the clock ticked down, Solskjær's in-form Man Utd outfit looked more and more likely to extend their winning run away from home, which stretched back until 19 June, during the 2019/20 campaign's Project Restart.

However, with Ayoze Pérez fresh off the bench, the Spaniard made an immediate impact of his own, twisting in the area and fizzing a low ball into Vardy, whose deflected effort bulged the net with five minutes to play.

Eventually awarded as an own goal, for Axel Tuanzebe, it nonetheless restored parity on the scoresheet for the Foxes, who eventually secured their first draw of the season, on matchday 15, in the Premier League.

Major moment

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

With five minutes to go, Ayoze Pérez set up Jamie Vardy, whose effort took a deflection off Axel Tuanzebe and into the back of the net late on.

Brendan Rodgers elected the stick, rather than twist, for most of a fascinating tactical duel, waiting until the 81st minute to make his first - and only - substitution of the afternoon.

On came Ayoze Pérez who, within minutes, was laying up a perfect cross into the six-yard area for Leicester's equaliser. Jamie Vardy may have been denied the credit, but the importance of Pérez's role can't be disputed.

Who impressed?

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Academy graduate Harvey Barnes was singled out for individual praise at full-time.

Speaking on LCFC Radio's Matchday Live show, summariser Gerry Taggart said: "I think everyone's had a decent game today. [Wesley] Fofana, at the back, has been excellent, I've got to say. Marc Albrighton's had a good game, [Youri] Tielemans was excellent, [Wilfred] Ndidi was excellent. James Justin had a really good game. Kasper [Schmeichel]; a great save when called into action too, but I think someone who was a constant thorn in the side of Manchester United was Harvey Barnes, who also got on the scoresheet."

Where does it leave us?

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James Maddison
James Maddison

James Maddison looks to forge a pocket of space during a tense encounter on Filbert Way.

The Foxes remain second in the Premier League table on 28 points, three adrift of reigning champions Liverpool, ahead of Boxing Day's later fixtures. Brendan Rodgers' men also hold a +9 goal difference. 

Coming up

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Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

The Northern Irishman watches on from the sidelines as City draw for the first time in the Premier League this term.

Just under 50 hours after running out against the Red Devils, City are back in action at Selhurst Park on Monday, to tackle Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace (3pm kick-off) in the Club’s final competitive fixture of the calendar year. Their 2021, meanwhile, gets underway in the North East as Leicester head to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United on Sunday 3 January (2:15pm kick-off).

All times GMT.

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