Manchester United were stunned by Leicester City, a word that seems like a perfect description of what happened in the match today.
After beating QPR 4-0 last weekend, United’s new look team looked like they were in good shape and were going to gather momentum by perfectly defeating the newly promoted Foxes. Robin van Persie and Angel Di Maria gave the visitors a a great start before Leonardo Ulloa reduced the deficit before the half time.
Ander Herrera scored in the second half to help United regain the two-goal lead. It looked like van Gaal’s side was going to run away with the game but Leicester refused to surrender and within seven minutes of the Herrera goal, they were level. The first one came through a highly debatable penalty. Jamie Vardy was brought down in the box by Rafael after Mark Clattenburg had waved play on seconds before when the Vardy barged into the Brazilian. It was a soft penalty but Nugent scored and brought the home side right back. Ex- Inter player Esteban Cambiasso scored two minutes after showing off his experience at a crunch time. Man of the match Jamie Vardy gave his side the lead in the 79th minute. Blackett’s clumsy foul for which he was sent off, on Vardy allowed Ulloa to get his second of the game and give the home side a two goal cushion in the dying embers of the game.
Manager Louis van Gaal was shocked after his side’s poor showing in the game.
“It seemed like it was complete control (at 3-1) – then you think ‘how is it possible you can give this game away,’ but I think we gave the game away,” Van Gaal said
“I have been 25 years in this profession, I have already thought that I have another experience like that – with Barcelona we were three goals ahead with a quarter to play and we lost 3-4, so that was also with a top club.
“You never expect it when you are 3-1 ahead – for the second time [in the game] two goals ahead – then you have to kill the game and you have to keep possession. But we could not do that and then, of course, you give it away with penalties. Then you cannot win a game any more when you do that.”
“You can’t imagine, but it is happening. I don’t want to criticise personal errors because that happens in a game, but the team made errors because we didn’t keep possession of the ball and that was our main mistake I think. I don’t think that it is the weakness of the defence. It is the weakness of the defensive organisation of the team and we know we have to do better.
“You cannot say the defence was weak/ You play like a team – Leicester showed that. We did not play like a team in the second half and that is not only in defence. In a defensive situation the whole team is responsible, not just one defender.”
“When you lose the ball so easily, you cannot defend. In this game after 3-1 you can’t make these errors. We need to continue and improve.”
Asked about the first penalty, which was brought into question later by pundits and fans, where Vardy was deemed ‘fortunate’ to get away with barging Da Silva seconds before Clattenburg gave the decision of a spot kick, what in hindsight felt like the turning point in the match, Van Gaal said, “For the first penalty it is always the referee [who you talk about] but you don’t have to do that as a player. You know you are in the penalty area and you allow the referee to whistle if you make a challenge. I don’t know if it is a penalty but we have to look at ourselves because we made such big errors as a team.”
United have collected five points from their opening five games of the season.