Leicester 2-2 Man United: Foxes rob Red Devils late

Leave a comment
  • Mahrez-to-Vardy flashbacks to 2015-16
  • Mata brings United level before HT
  • Mata’s free kick makes it 2-1
  • Maguire steals a point in 94′

Manchester United fell a goal behind early, came back to within seconds beat Leicester City courtesy of two goals scored by Juan Mata, but were punished for not putting the game beyond reach and ultimately dropped two points on Saturday at the King Power Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The result sees Jose Mourinho’s second-place side fall to 13 points off the pace of runaway league leaders Manchester City, who won in convincing fashion (again) on Saturday.

The game’s opening goal, scored by the Foxes in the 27th minutes, was as on-brand as any goal in PL history. Demarai Gray sent Riyad Mahrez through into acres of open field with a long diagonal ball over the top. Mahrez ran onto it, raced to the top of the 18-yard box, held up play very briefly and slotted the perfect through ball for Jamie Vardy to slide past David De Gea first-time.

Thus, Vardy’s 50th PL goal adds to his sublime scoring record against the league’s top-six sides.

Leicester’s lead wouldn’t quite survive until halftime, though, as Juan Mata drew the Red Devils level in the 40th minute. He needed a bit of good fortune — and perhaps the slightest of deflections — to squeeze his left-footed effort between two Leicester defenders and tuck it just inside Kasper Schmeichel‘s left-hand post, and he got it.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The second half’s opening 10 minutes began in frantic fashion, as each side failed to convert a golden opportunity on opposite ends of the field within 30 seconds of one another.

Christian Fuchs had a nearly open-net chance before Victor Lindelof scrambled across the face of goal to get in the way and make the block. United immediately raced down the other end of the field, where Romelu Lukaku picked out Anthony Martial with a perfectly-placed ball toward the penalty spot, but the Frenchman blazed his shot over the crossbar, and both sides came up empty.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

United wouldn’t wait long for another scoring chance, though the degree of difficulty would be far greater than Martial’s miss moments earlier. Mata delicately lifted his free kick over the leaping wall from the edge of the box. Schmeichel didn’t react until three-quarters of the way through the ball’s flight, at which point he had no chance of making the save.

Lukaku turned playmaker once again int he 72nd minute, when he slotted another through ball into a dangerous area, this time for Jesse Lingard. The hard part had been done already — Lingard rounded Schmeichel with ease — but the post denied what appeared a surefire goal to hand United a two-goal lead.

Daniel Amartey earned himself a pair of yellow cards just 17 minutes apart after coming on just before the hour mark, reducing Leicester to 10 men. Marcus Rashford let another open-net chance get away from United, as he stumbled over his own feet and hit the ground after rounding Schmeichel himself, and United were made to pay for not putting the game to bed.

Marc Albrighton lofted a hopeful ball into a dangerous spot inside the six-yard box, and Harry Maguire slid in at the back post to poke it past De Gea in the 94th minute, with what appeared to be fewer than 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining.

Zidane quizzed on Pogba: “We know what we want to do”

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
Leave a comment

Zinedine Zidane’s open flirtation with Paul Pogba continues, as the Real Madrid manager was asked about Manchester United’s star midfielder again on Saturday.

“We need to respect everybody, but the only thing I can say from the club is we know what we want to do,” Zidane said. “Something could happen before the end of August. We could have some changes.”

[ MORE: Wolves beat Man City in pens ]

On paper the purchase of Pogba makes sense to reloading Real, but the problem here is the sheer amount of paper the Madrid side has spent on players this season.

While sales of James Rodriguez, Dani Ceballos, and Gareth Bale could put Real in okay position regarding Financial Fair Play, buying Pogba would move the needle hard in the other direction considering the club has bought Ferland Mendy, Eden Hazard, Eder Militao, Luka Jovic, and Rodrygo.

Plus, Florentino Perez likes to buy only one Galactico per transfer session, and Hazard is undoubtedly this summer’s model.

That said, Real has assets that United could use in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s overhaul of the Old Trafford set.

UEFA gives partial stadium bans to Bulgaria, Romania for fan racism

UEFA
Leave a comment

NYON, Switzerland (AP) Bulgaria will have to close part of its national stadium for European Championship qualifiers against England and the Czech Republic because of fan racism.

UEFA issued the order, saying Bulgarian fans were racially abusive during a 2-1 loss to the Czech Republic and a 3-2 loss to Kosovo last month.

Bulgaria hosts England on Oct. 14 and the Czech Republic on Nov. 17.

Romania has also been ordered to close part of its home stadium for a future under-21 game after UEFA ruled its fans behaved in a racist manner during the European under-21 championship last month.

Another racism case against Latvia was dropped.

UEFA also handed out various fines to Romania, Ukraine, and Greece for rowdy behavior by fans.

Transfer rumor roundup: Everton join Zaha chase; Matuidi to Man Utd?

Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of Saturday’s biggest transfer rumors from around the world, including those involving a few Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: PL refs told to defer to VAR more, go to the monitor “sparingly” ]

Wilfried Zaha is one of the most wanted men in England, with Arsenal reportedly hot on his trail all summer. An deal between the Gunners and Crystal Palace is yet  to transpire, though, which has perhaps left the door open for Everton to sneak through and sign the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international.

Arsenal would obviously pay more in wages, but are yet to meet Palace’s valuation of their talisman. If Everton is the club that calls with the requisite figures on offer, it wouldn’t be the worst landing place for Zaha. With Arsenal yet to make a meaningful signing this summer, and the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny already gone or on their way out, the 2019-20 season could see the Gunners take a step back, opening the door for — you guessed it — Everton to break into the top-five… or -four.


Speaking of Ramsey, his arrival at Juventus has perhaps made Blaise Matuidi surplus to requirements, which means he could be available for cut-rate price.

Manchester United seem to be perennially in need of influential central midfielders, especially this summer after the departure of Ander Herrera and the failure of a signing that was Fred last summer. Man United have reportedly been in contact with Juve about the 32-year-old, as have Paris Saint-Germain and Everton.


Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is another midfielder who’s been linked with United, but he’ll likely just as much as, if not more than, the $59-million fee paid for Fred. Milinkovic-Savic seemed a surefire target for the world’s top clubs after a star’s showing at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, but the 24-year-old remained at Lazio and is still yet to move 12 months later.


Patrick Cutrone was one of Europe’s breakout stars of the 2018-19 season, now the 21-year-old AC Milan forward is reportedly high atop Wolverhampton Wanderers’ shopping list this summer. He won’t come cheap — Milan are expected to demand nearly $30 million — but he could offer some serious insurance in the event of an injury to Raul Jimenez.

PL refs told to defer to VAR more, go to the monitor “sparingly”

Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images
1 Comment

Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters says that referees have ben instructed “to use the referee review area a bit more sparingly” and rely on the numerous video-assistant referees (VAR) at their disposal to make simple calls upon review when video review is instituted in the PL next month.

[ MORE: Lukaku latest: Man United reject $67-million bid from Inter Milan ]

Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, where far too many trip to the monitor were made by the center referees, the PL is keen on ensuring that “the Premier League or English football [is not] interrupted, or the pace of the game [is not] changed.” It sounds very much like a “less is more” approach  — quotes from the BBC:

“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right. But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.

“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.

“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.”

In theory, this should work quite well for the PL. Many of the decisions that referees go to the monitor to review themselves could easily be made by the “fifth official.” If it’s obvious to the VAR and he/she can make the call with 100 percent certainty, the center ref should always take their decision in the name of keeping the game flowing. If the VAR isn’t so sure, or it’s a more subjective call that should be made by the person making 99 percent of the game’s calls, go to the monitor. But do so quickly.