Manchester United led twice but ultimately failed to win an away league match in the league for the first time this season, with an Axel Tuanzebe own goal five minutes from time earning Leicester a deserved share of the points and the right to stay above United in the table.
Marcus Rashford had put United on course for an 11th away league win in a row but Harvey Barnes quickly equalised for the hosts in an entertaining though slightly scruffy game. Bruno Fernandes put the visitors 2-1 up but United again failed to protect their lead for long, with Vardy’s shot taking a deflection off Axel Tuanzebe to give Leicester a point.
United began with the confidence to be expected from a team accustomed to winning on their travels, and they pressurised their hosts into coughing up the ball deep in their own territory after less than 80 seconds. Fernandes then curled in a cross from the left that amounted to a seemingly irresistible invitation for Rashford to score. Except that Rashford was intentionally merciful on Leicester, nodding over the bar from six yards. His reaction suggested he could barely believe it himself.
Leicester’s reaction, meanwhile, was to hurtle down the other end. When James Justin sent over a cross rom the right, Vardy poked it over the bar from 12 yards. It was a far more difficult chance than the one bungled by Rashford but it established the pattern for a first half in which each side looked both threatening and vulnerable.
David De Gea seemed a goalkeeper diminished by doubt. He was fortunate to escape unpunished in the eighth minute after giving the ball away in his own box, with Eric Bally rushing to United’s rescue. Bailly was deployed in central defence as Victor Lindelöf shifted to right-back to replace the injured Aaron Wan-Bissaka. 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 did when earning counter-attacking wins at the King Power earlier in the season.
While United, in the first half at least, aspired to gaining more possession and territory than those teams had, they were not particularly creative. Dan James failed to shine before being withdrawn early on the second half – yet he played an important role in United taking the lead in the 23rd minute, since it was his imprecise pass that forced Fernandes to stretch for the ball just outside the Leicester box. The Portuguese’s desperate touch wrongfooted the home defence and turned into a perfect pass for Rashford, who atoned for his earlier miss by sweeping a crisp sidefooter into the bottom corner from 10 yards.
United could not hold on to their lead for long. After Wilf Ndidi robbed the ball off Fernandes in the 31st minute, Maddison helped it on to Barnes, who lashed the ball into the net from the edge of the area. De Gea in his prime would probably have pawed the shot out but there was no sign of world class reflexes from him on this occasion.
However, further evidence soon emerged of the curious set-piece fragility from which Leicester have suffered this season, as Fernandes got on the end of a free-kick from the left by Luke Shaw. But the midfielder headed over the bar.
Fernandes might have scored on the counterattack early in the second half but James proved unable to put him through after the Portuguese had created an opening with a nifty dummy, the Welshman’s pass allowing Wesley Fofana to make a critical interception.
Fred gave Rashford an ideal opportunity to score from another break on the hour but Kasper Schmeichel did well to beat away the forward’s powerful drive from 15 yards.
With 15 minutes to go, Solskjaer’s 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 Bally before turning and prodding the ball through to Fernandes, who burst into the space vacated by the striker and finished emphatically from 12 yards.
Rodgers replied by making his first substitution of the match and that, too, paid off swiftly, as the newcomer, Ayoze Pérez, exchanged passes with Justin before crossing from the right for Vardy, whose first-time shot took a nick off Tuanzebe, another United substitute, en route to the net.
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