1-0, min. 8, Rashford.
Manchester United 1-0 Leicester City: Rashford penalty gives Solskjaer crucial win
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on September 14, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Manchester United 1-0 Leicester City: Rashford penalty gives Solskjaer crucial win

The English striker scored in the eighth minute for United and they held out for the remainder of the game.

harry-robinson
Harry Robinson

Manchester United arrested a poor spell of results with an important home victory against Leicester City.

Marcus Rashford's third goal of the season came early on from the penalty spot and despite consistent Leicester pressure, United held out for three points that temporarily takes them into the top four.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team selection was limited by injuries to Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw. Impressive displays from the Scott McTominay and the effervescent Dan James were behind a crucial win. 

It was far from pretty for Solskjaer's side and they created very little throughout the game. They've played better in games they've drawn home and away.

Story of the game

Led by the direct duo of Rashford and James, United's start was a bright one. Andreas Pereira forced a good save and a corner out of Kasper Schmeichel, watched on by Dad Peter, with an excellent free-kick. James had won it. He's United's most incisive player for some years.

It was a fixture full of young British talent and Maddison caused problems for United amid interest in the forward from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Maddison pursued a long Schmeichel ball and Lindelof's indecision resulted in a corner. As soon as the ball is in the air, any confidence in Lindelof evaporates.

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United pressurised Soyuncu and Chilwell at the other end, hence Solskjaer's decision to start Pereira who screams energy, sometimes excessively, in everything he does.

Leicester fans serenaded £80 million Harry Maguire with 'we don't need you, we've got Soyuncu' but the Turk brought down Rashford in the box.

Wan-Bissaka had released Pereira on the right and the Brazilian did well to redirect the ball into the area. Rashford accelerated towards it and Soyuncu's leg sent him tumbling. A slow run-up preceded a cool finish from the spot for Rashford's third goal of the season.

In the absence of Pogba, McTominay was given a freer role higher up the pitch. He gifted possession to Leicester too many times, just as Pogba does, but he was confident and composed for the majority of the day.

A lovely searching ball switched play into the feet of James and then the academy graduate relieved pressure on Young with a great cushioned pass. A crunching tackle on Chilwell came later to bring Old Trafford to its feet. McTominay has started every game for club and country this season and for now, at least, he is one of United's most reliable players.

United couldn't create from open play and Leicester took the game to them. By the end of the half, Rashford would be dropping back to find possession and get United moving. 

Chilwell struck brilliantly to force De Gea into an excellent tip over the bar. His future remains uncertain and sources at United suggest he still hasn't signed a contract despite reports during the week.

Soyuncu drew him into another save before the break and a previously buzzing Old Trafford was dead once the team's walked down the tunnel.

Leicester were the opposite before and after the break. Maddison couldn't quite stretch to reach Tielemans' lofted ball. Vardy robbed Maguire of the ball and sliced it across the face of goal but no one tapped home.

A close effort from James and efforts from Mata and Pereira couldn't awake United's crowd from its slumber. Maguire intercepting a dangerous ball and then outmuscling Gray and taking it forward did, though. Leicester's support booed him throughout and each display of his £80m quality drew a wall of Mancunian noise.

Substitutions came from both sides either side of the hour mark. Choudhury and Gray departed for Perez and Barnes as Maddison continued to scare United. Fred replacing Matic showed Solskjaer's intentions, as did the arrival of young Dutch winger Tahith Chong. He responded to the game earlier than he has in other games this season, and it paid off.

Leicester pushed but their mid-game pressure waned as the evening shadow began to cover the pitch. Solskjaer added defensive cover with the introduction of Axel Tuanzebe making his first appearance of the season.

McTominay was shifted deeper after Fred's introduction and he killed time for United at the end of the game, sitting by the corner flag after a foul. Soyuncu ran over and shoved his neck. Chilwell was booked but the Turkish international was lucky to receive no punishment in the VAR-era.

It was a team and subs bench scattered with fringe players for Solskjaer. He'll welcome the returns of Pogba, Martial and Shaw gleefully, but his players did the job for him in a tricky home fixture.

Takeaways from the game

McTominay leads United's midfield

The absence of Pogba could have hit United hard but McTominay was creative in a slightly higher position during the first half. When Fred replaced Matic, the 21-year-old dropped deeper and was assured, barking instructions from the centre of the pitch and time-wasting in added time. It was a commanding display and his best of the season.

Solskjaer responds quicker

Solskjaer's biggest error this season has been his ruthlessness, or lack thereof, during games. He's made far too many substitutions at the 80th-minute mark or after. This time, Fred and Chong were on before the 70th minute and it paused the Leicester surge.

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