Sunday, May 1, 2016 8:31 pm
Leicester City will have to wait to complete their fairytale Barclays Premier League triumph after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Needing a win to be crowned champions with two matches to spare, Claudio Ranieri ‘s unchanged side had a passive start and Anthony Martial capitalised by opening the scoring.
But captain Wes Morgan, one of the symbols of Leicester’s unlikely charge, headed a 16th-minute equaliser and the visitors will be disappointed not to have further punished a United side, especially at set-pieces.
Leicester will emerge as champions at home to Everton next weekend if Tottenham Hotspur fail to beat Chelsea on Monday, while any victory from City or slip-up by Spurs will complete the remarkable story that Sunday’s action in Stretford left tantalisingly dangling.
United, who could not capitalise on a late red card for Danny Drinkwater, lost ground on Arsenal and Manchester City in the race for a top-four spot but edged ahead of West Ham United into fifth.
The visitors barely ventured beyond their own half before United took an eighth-minute lead. Antonio Valencia, in for Timothy Fosu-Mensah at right-back, picked out Martial for the unmarked Frenchman to thump his ninth league goal of the season.
Shinji Okazaki headed over at the near post from a Riyad Mahrez cross after a Leicester set-piece and United did not heed the warning as Morgan muscled past Marcos Rojo to plant a header beyond David De Gea from Drinkwater’s floated free-kick.
Schmeichel, playing in the league for the first time on the ground where his father Peter became a United legend, denied Jesse Lingard with sharp saves either side of the equaliser as Leicester’s defence lacked the solidity of recent months.
Leicester ended the half strongly, as Drinkwater had an effort deflected behind before Morgan, again evading Rojo’s attempts to mark him, headed over.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Liverpool were beaten 1-3 by Swansea City while Manchester City lost the third place to Arsenal.
A Sadio Mane hat-trick inspired Southampton to a 4-2 triumph over City at St Mary’s Stadium that hit Manchester City’s hopes of confirming a top-four spot.
Manuel Pellegrini, ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final trip to Real Madrid, made a number of first-team changes. Sergio Aguero, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Fernando watched the entire game from the bench, while Kevin De Bruyne was left out.
Southampton sensed the chance of an upset and deservedly took the lead through Shane Long, before Mane scored a fine effort three minutes later to cap their first-half dominance.
Kelechi Iheanacho grabbed a lifeline just before the break and City responded well early in the second half, but Mane bundled the ball home after a scramble in the penalty area to restore Saints’ two-goal lead before completing his treble with a good low finish 10 minutes later.
Iheanacho bent in a fine consolation, but Southampton move to within two points of the top six, while City, who host third-placed Arsenal next Sunday, must continue to look over their shoulders towards Manchester United, who could close to within a point of fourth if they win their match in hand.