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LIVE: Leicester held by Utd , need 2 more points to win title

BPL standings NEW

Manchester, United Kingdom | AFP

Manchester United 1 Leicester 1

Southampton 4 Manchester City 2

Football: Martial strikes as Man Utd make Leicester wait

Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City must wait to complete their fairytale Premier League title quest after being held to a 1-1 draw by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Foxes needed three points to win the league for the first time, but with thousands of fans back in Leicester and millions of new converts around the world watching on television, they had to make do with one after Wes Morgan cancelled out Anthony Martial’s opener for United.

Leicester, who lost Danny Drinkwater to a late red card, will be crowned champions unless second-place Tottenham Hotspur win at Chelsea on Monday, but if Spurs do prevail, Ranieri’s men will be left requiring two points from their final games, at home to Everton and away to Chelsea.

It would still take a monumental collapse for Leicester not to claim the title, but their players, staff and anxious supporters must wait a few more hours, if not days, before their place in sporting history can be confirmed.

 

While Leicester’s title destiny remains in their own hands, it was a damaging result for Louis van Gaal’s United, who were left four points below the Champions League places with only three games to play.

Leicester have turned winning with minimal possession into an art form this season, but United’s early dominance here was to prove the precursor to a soft opener.

Antonio Valencia, preferred to 18-year-old Timothy Fosu-Mensah at right-back, was allowed to cut inside Christian Fuchs and trundle a cross to the back post, where Martial exploited Danny Simpson’s errant positioning to slot his 15th goal of the season past Kasper Schmeichel.

Back at the ground where his father, Peter, made his name, Schmeichel then produced a sharp one-handed save to thwart Jesse Lingard after Marouane Fellaini had chested down a cross from Marcos Rojo.

Simpson survives

Shortly after Schmeichel’s save, visiting captain Morgan outmuscled the floundering Rojo to meet Drinkwater’s arcing free-kick with a headed 17th-minute equaliser.

The game was now an intense, robust encounter and Fellaini was guilty of a wild elbow to Robert Huth’s chin, after the German had provoked him by yanking his hair, that could earn the Belgian a retrospective ban.

Referee Michael Oliver did not spot Fellaini’s infringement and he was also involved in two incidents prior to half-time that could have had major ramifications for either side.

In the first, Lingard intercepted a pass from Simpson, a former United player, on halfway and raced towards goal, only to go to ground as Simpson leant into him.

It would have been a red card if Oliver had called it a foul, but he saw no wrongdoing and it was the same story moments later — albeit perhaps more contentiously — when Riyad Mahrez crashed to the turf after being caught by Rojo inside the United box.

 

The teams continued to exchange chances in the second half, with Martial shooting over and Lingard curling straight at Schmeichel for United, while Leonardo Ulloa, once again deputising for the suspended Jamie Vardy, twice threatened for the visitors.

Mahrez, the Player of the Year, had been a peripheral presence, but with 19 minutes remaining he wriggled past three players before stinging David de Gea’s palms from the edge of the box.

The closing stages belonged to United, however, with Chris Smalling’s header clipping the post before Drinkwater, another Old Trafford old boy, saw red after receiving a second yellow card for hauling back substitute Memphis Depay right on the edge of the box.

 

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PRE-MATCH

 

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged starting XI for his side’s potential Premier League title-clincher against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

With Leicester three points away from a fairytale title success, Leonardo Ulloa continued to deputise for the suspended Jamie Vardy up front, while Jeff Schlupp kept his place on the left wing ahead of Marc Albrighton.

Prior to last Sunday’s 4-0 win over Swansea City, when Ulloa and Schlupp came into the side, Ranieri had named the same team for six successive games.

“I feel good, but we know this will be a tough match. Manchester United are fighting for the Champions League,” Ranieri told Sky Sports.

“I ask my players for the same performance. We do not want to change our mindset. I am curious to see if my players feel something different. I hope not, but it is important to check.

“My message to them will be to play the same. I am very excited. The story is fantastic.”

United manager Louis van Gaal, whose side are gunning for a top-four place, made one change to the team that beat Everton in last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final, with Antonio Valencia replacing Timony Fosu-Mensah at right-back.

Victory at Old Trafford, where they have not won since January 1998, would give Leicester the first top-flight title in their 132-year history.

A draw or defeat could also suffice, but only if second-place Tottenham Hotspur, who trail Leicester by seven points, do not better their result at outgoing champions Chelsea on Monday.

After taking on United, Leicester entertain Everton in their final home game next weekend before finishing the campaign at Chelsea.

Team                   P  W  D  L    F  A   Pts
Leicester              35 22 10 3  63 33  76

Tottenham           35 19 12 4  65 26  69

Arsenal                 36 19 10 7  59 34  67

Man City              35 19  7 9   66 34  64

———————————–

West Ham            35 15 14 6  60 43 59

Man Utd               34 17  8  9  42 30 59

———————————–

Liverpool             34 15 10 9 58 45 55

Southampton      35 15 9 11 49 37 54

Stoke                   36 13 9 14 38 52 48

Chelsea               34 12 11 11 53 46 47

Everton              35 10 14 11 55 49 44

Watford              35 12 8 15 36 42 44

West Brom         36 10 11 15 32 46 41

Bournemouth    36 11 8 17 43 63 41

Swansea             35 10 10 15 34 49 40

Crystal Palace   36 10 9 17 36 46 39

Newcastle         36 8 9 19 39 64 33

———————————–

Sunderland      35 7 11 17 40 58 32

Norwich            35 8 7 20 35 61 31

Aston Villa        36 3 7 26 27 72 16 — relegated

Note: Top four teams qualify for Champions League; teams finishing 5th-6th qualify for Europa League; bottom three teams relegated to Championship.

AFP

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