In a game to be remembered for years, Jamie Vardy capped a mind-boggling comeback by newly-promoted Leicester City as they came from 3-1 down to defeat a stunned Manchester United.
The Red Devils thought they’d built on their demolition of QPR last week by ripping up the Foxes as well, up 2-0 by the 16th minute and 3-1 just after halftime.
But the brilliant Vardy and his newly-promoted side then put together one of the most impressive 20 minutes of Premier League soccer we’ve seen this year as they equalized in minutes and scored the winner in emphatic fashion.
It was the Red Devils who proved the first beneficiaries of a spell of attacking ability on both ends, as three goals burst through in a six-minute span to start the game.
Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie combined to put Manchester United up early 1-0 as United’s newest member picked up his first assist for his new club and his Dutch strike partner grabbed his season’s first goal.
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Falcao burst uncontested down the left flank and lofted in an easy cross to van Persie at the back post. Nobody marked the Dutchman, and he easily poked home the opener for his first goal of the year.
Then just three minutes later it was the other pair, as Angel Di Maria played a one-two with Wayne Rooney and finished a lovely chipped goal and a 2-0 lead before the 16th minute mark.
The former Real Madrid man motored through the midfield and found Rooney for a lay-off. His English teammate gave it back, and as the Argentinian winger plodded into the box he cut under the ball and sent it looping over Casper Schmeichel for a brilliant chip goal.
It appeared to be another easy day on the job for the new-look Manchester United squad, but it wouldn’t be as Leicester City makes a living on remaining in the back of the minds of top teams.
They hit back within two minutes as Leo Ulloa received a stellar cross from way out by the corner flag by Jamie Vardy and headed it powerfully past a frozen David De Gea.
Manchester United had some injury troubles as the first half dragged on, as Johnny Evans went down and immediately needed a substitute with what appeared to be a muscle issue. Minutes later, Di Maria went skidding down the hard border of the pitch under a challenge from Ritchie De Laet and needed treatment for scraping his hand and wrist.
The second half provided more of the same as Falcao clattered the crossbar four minutes after the break with a stunning blast that had easily beaten Schmeichel. It would be a precurser to another moment in the 57th minute with Di Maria firing on goal from outside the box, and the low strike was redirected hockey-style by Ander Herrera on its way through for a third goal.
But Leicester’s given Arsenal and Everton fits this season so far, and they weren’t out of it at all. The impressive Vardy probably fouled Rafael on the break down the left, but after no call from Mark Clattenburg, Rafael’s frustration got the better of him, and he bodied Vardy down to which Clattenburg responded by giving a penalty. David Nugent finished powerfully from the spot, and Leicester were within one yet again.
This time, they’d find a way back. The penalty lifted the Foxes to the ascendency, and two minutes later their midfield maestro Esteban Cambiasso equalized by latching onto the ball in traffic in the box and slicing into the bottom corner. Manager Nigel Pearson was set to bring Cambiasso off when he scored, and right on cue he sent the substitute back to the bench.
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The Foxes continued to swarm and it would eventually pay off for a goal to be remembered. Vardy went through all alone and made no mistake against De Gea one-on-one for the winner.
Ulloa added another as United crumbled meekly, with Tyler Blackett sent off for a last-man foul on Vardy, and Ulloa touched home the penalty as Manchester United had nothing left to offer.
Instead of jumping into the top seven in the table, Manchester United remain slumped in 11th place, while Leicester City makes it two wins in two to go above United into sixth place.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky, Hammond, Cambiasso (King 71′), Nugent (James 75′), Drinkwater, Vardy (Schlupp 85′), Ulloa.
Goals: Ulloa 18′, 83′ (pen), Nugent (pen) 62′, Cambiasso 64′, Vardy 79′
Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Evans (Smalling 30′), Blackett, Rojo; Blind, Herrera, Di Maria (Mata 76′); Rooney; Falcao (Janazaj 72′), Van Persie.
Goals: Van Persie 13′, Di Maria 16′, Herrera 57′
Discipline: Blackett (straight red) 83′