Jadon Sancho made the difference, while Raphael Varane’s good form continued as Manchester United beat Leicester City 2-1 on Thursday.

Matters off the pitch were unfolding frantically on Thursday night when Manchester United and Leicester City took to the King Power Stadium pitch as clubs across Europe attempted to finalise their signings. The Foxes themselves were looking to get a few deals over the line, while the Red Devils ended their business by bringing in Martin Dubravka and Antony.

Leicester City and Manchester United traded blows in the early exchanges, with Christian Eriksen coming close to finding the back of the net from close range within the ten minutes. But the Foxes did not have the cutting edge to trouble David de Gea in the opening period, which ended with the visitors taking a slim lead.

Manchester United went ahead midway through the first half with a slick team move. Jadon Sancho beat Danny Ward from close range after finishing the sequence of play that also involved Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes, and Marcus Rashford.

Leicester City picked up the tempo in the second half, and James Maddison forced a big save out of Marcus Rashford. On the other end, Manchester United had a few positive moments but were not clinical enough to score again. But the Red Devils dug deep to grab all three points, climbing to fifth on the Premier League table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Erik ten Hag’s men.

David de Gea: 7/10

David de Gea produced his best performance this season. The Spaniard never looked rushed on the ball and showed some positive signs when trying to build play from the back. And the cherry on top was the brilliant save to keep out James Maddison’s free-kick in the second half, which he dedicated to his grandmother.

Diogo Dalot: 7/10

Dalot had to be careful after earning a first-half booking. But the Portuguese international was solid at the back, neutralising Harvey Barnes’s threat while never letting the Leicester City winger get on top of him. His added defensive workload meant he could not make his mark in the final third, but there were some positive moments. He is finally starting to make the right-back berth his own.

Raphael Varane: 8/10

Varane started the season behind Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in the pecking order. But he has leapfrogged the duo with aplomb, thanks to three top-notch performances. The Frenchman was a rock at the back for Manchester United, especially when Leicester tried to heap pressure in the second half. But he was immovable, winning all but one of his seven contested duels.

Lisandro Martinez: 7/10

Lisandro Martinez can do little wrong right now, and he bullied Leicester striker Jamie Vardy on Thursday. The diminutive Argentine defender gave a good account of himself again, making crucial clearances while calmly playing out of the back. Tougher tests await in the coming months, but he is settling down well at Manchester United.

Tyrell Malacia: 7/10

Malacia is yet to exhibit his qualities in the final third, but he continues to make an impression off the ball. The Dutch defender negated Maddison well and did the dirty work at the back. But now is the time for him to contribute more in the final third as Manchester United will soon start settling down under ten Hag.

Scott McTominay: 7/10

McTominay has stepped up impressively since Casemiro arrived from Real Madrid. The Scottish midfielder again showed the desire to put in a shift for his team and manoeuvred his way out of tight spaces smartly when Leicester tried to close the game. He can give Casemiro a run for his money once his output on the ball improves.

Christian Eriksen: 7/10

Eriksen is settling into the role in the double pivot with every passing game. The Dane put in the hard yards again for Manchester United, popping up in the final third to come close to scoring at one moment and then dropping deep to keep Leicester at an arm’s length. He will only get better with Casemiro alongside him.

Jadon Sancho: 8/10

Sancho is brimming with confidence right now, which bodes well for him and Manchester United. With Erik ten Hag showing his faith in Sancho, the Englishman’s levels are rising. And he showed tremendous composure in the build-up to his goal. The next step for Sancho is to be more involved in the final third.

Bruno Fernandes: 6/10

Bruno Fernandes showed better passing acumen than most other games thus far this season. And he linked up well with Sancho and Rashford, including in the build-up to the winner. But his output can improve further, as he is still not at the peak levels he has shown at Manchester United.

Anthony Elanga: 6/10

Elanga’s time as a regular for Manchester United might soon end following Antony’s arrival from Ajax. While the young Swede is a menace due to his burst of pace, his end product needs to improve for him to stake his claim for a regular berth on the flanks.

Marcus Rashford: 6/10

Rashford showed good poise and composure to set Sancho for the match-winner, but he needs to do more in the final third. On some occasions, his passing and control of the ball were poor, and his finishing needs improvement. With Anthony Martial and Cristiano Ronaldo breathing down his neck, he has to step up.

SUBSTITUTES

Casemiro: 7/10

Casemiro replaced Anthony Elanga around the hour mark and showed what he is about in the final half hour. The Brazilian international was a midfield general for Manchester United, rallying his teammates while winning most of his duels and playing the ball forward crisply. He will likely be an asset for Manchester United when in full flow.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10

Ronaldo had looked miserable on the bench in the last two games but seemed intent on making his mark this time after making peace with the idea of staying at Manchester United. The Portuguese international was more involved in the final third and could have gone home with a goal and assist had luck gone his way.

Fred: N/A

Fred replaced Rashford late in the game and helped keep Leicester at bay.

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