Harry Maguire produced a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser to earn 10-man Leicester City a 2-2 draw against Manchester United, denting their opponents’ already slim hopes of reeling in Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
United looked set to clinch all three points after two goals from Juan Mata had turned the match on its head following Jamie Vardy’s 50th goal in the top flight.
However, Maguire got on the end of a perfectly flighted Marc Albrighton cross from the left to direct a finish beyond David De Gea, leaving United 13 points adrift of City at the midway point.
Vardy combined with Riyad Mahrez to fire Leicester in front after 27 minutes, before Mata pulled United level five minutes from the break.
After showing great composure to net his first, Mata was equally cool when he floated a wonderful free-kick beyond Kasper Schmeichel on the hour.
Leicester’s chances of restoring parity were dealt a blow when Daniel Amartey – on as a 57th-minute substitute – was sent off for a second bookable offence just 16 minutes later, but Maguire popped up with a leveller, capitalising on the injured Chris Smalling’s lack of mobility, that sent the home fans into raptures.
GOALLLLLLLL! HARRY MAGUIREEEEEEEE!
IT’S 2-2 IN STOPPAGE TIME! YASSSSSSS! pic.twitter.com/MTgwyLIniQ
— Leicester City (@LCFC) December 23, 2017
United drew two early saves from Schmeichel as they made a bright start at the King Power Stadium.
Jesse Lingard’s strike needed tipping over after taking a deflection off Leicester defender Harry Maguire, before Paul Pogba unleashed a low drive that was pounced upon by the Dane.
However, it was Leicester who broke the deadlock when Riyad Mahrez – holding the ball up well on the edge of the box after racing on to a long Wilfred Ndidi pass – waited for the run of Vardy before threading through a pass that was gratefully dispatched by the England striker.
An ambitious effort from halfway by Pogba was both wayward and tracked all the way by a retreating Schmeichel, but Mata soon had United level with a well-worked equaliser.
Anthony Martial was afforded too much space on the left and his deflected cross was met in the box by Lingard, who teed up Mata to place an effort into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Christian Fuchs should have restored Leicester’s lead early in the second half when, after Mahrez’s dizzying feet had hypnotised Ashley Young down the right, he had a shot blocked by Victor Lindelof when he perhaps had more time to place his shot.
Fuchs, being a defender, could be forgiven for not having the sharpest of attacking instincts, but there could be no excuse for Martial moments later, when he blazed over after being played in by a wonderful Romelu Lukaku throughball.
When the next goal did arrive it was a beauty. Mata curled a delightful free-kick over the wall and just out of the reach of a diving Schmeichel, who reacted too late to make the stop.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 23, 2017
Lingard placed a shot against the base of the left-hand upright following another superb Lukaku pass after 72 minutes, but Amartey’s foolish double booking looked like ending Leicester hopes.
However, after both sides had penalty shouts turned down, Maguire met Albrighton’s cross to guide the ball beyond De Gea, with United’s defence carrying an injured Smalling for the crucial closing stages.
Key Opta facts:
– Manchester City will be 13 points clear of Manchester United on Christmas Day – the biggest points gap between first and second place on Christmas Day in English top-flight history.
– This was the first time that United have conceded a 90th-minute goal that has changed the result of a league game since February 7 2016 (1-1 v Chelsea – Diego Costa).
– In fact, this was the second time in the space of four days that Jose Mourinho’s men have conceded an injury-time goal to change the result of a game, after losing to Bristol City in the EFL Cup in midweek.
– United have lost just one of their last 13 league visits to Leicester City (W7 D5 L1), a 5-3 defeat in September 2014.
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