Manchester United’s defensive frailties were laid bare in the most embarrassing fashion as Leicester romped to a 5-3 win over Louis van Gaal’s shell-shocked side at the King Power Stadium.
Scorers: Leicester - Ulloa (17, 83 pen), Nugent (62 pen), Cambiasso (64), Vardy (79); Manchester United - Van Persie (13) ,Di Maria (16), Herrera (57)
United’s stellar cast of attacking talent allowed them to race into a 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Robin van Persie, Ander Herrera and Angel di Maria, who scored a stunning chip over Kasper Schmeichel. But, however impressive United’s Galacticos are on the attack, the fact remains this squad is woefully sub-standard at the back and Leicester took full advantage to record their first home victory over the 20-time champions since 1985.
Leonardo Ulloa headed in at the back post in the first half and David Nugent scored from the penalty spot after a needless foul by Rafael on Jamie Vardy.
Esteban Cambiasso equalised on his full debut before Vardy slotted the ball past David de Gea after a counter-attack in which United’s defence was all over the place. Tyler Blackett was then sent off for hacking Vardy down in the box and Ulloa converted the penalty to make it 5-3.
After enjoying such a comprehensive win over QPR last week, Van Gaal found the defeat hard to take. “We start the last match against QPR very good with a new team, new players and then we played very well here, but we gave the game away,” the United manager said. “Leicester had five shots on goal, and that was it. These five goals were existing because we made errors in ball possession.”
United took the lead in the 12th minute when Leicester right-back Ritchie De Laet dived in and allowed Radamel Falcao, who started ahead of Juan Mata, to turn the ball past him and chip a pin-point cross to Van Persie, whose header flew past Schmeichel off Liam Moore.
Just three minutes later, Di Maria doubled the lead with an early contender for goal of the season. The Argentine sprinted from inside his own half and picked a return ball up off Wayne Rooney before he scooped the ball over Schmeichel with his left boot.
Just 72 seconds later Van Gaal was cursing his defence as they allowed Leicester back into the game. Vardy got to the byline and whipped in a flat ball to the back post where Ulloa headed home.
United should have had their third just before the break when Marcos Rojo headed over from four yards and within three minutes of the restart Falcao had rattled the bar with a fine volley.
Herrera went one better in the 57th minute, as he turned the ball in to make it 3-1. The Spaniard cleverly flicked Rooney’s goal-bound shot past Schmeichel from six yards after Rafael caused havoc in the box with a wicked low cross
The Brazilian quickly went from hero to villain though as he gave away a contentious penalty at the other end. Vardy barged Rafael off the ball down Leicester’s left and the defender lost his cool, nudging over the forward in the box. Mark Clattenburg ignored United’s protests, pointing to the spot and Nugent blasted the ball past De Gea to score.
Within two minutes, United’s defence went to pieces again and Leicester equalised as Dean Hammond saw his shot blocked and Cambiasso pounced, stabbing the ball past De Gea.
Van Gaal slumped further into his seat with 12 minutes left when Leicester, amazingly, took the lead. De Laet nicked the ball off Mata, who had just come on for Di Maria, and cantered down the left before finding the unmarked Vardy, who calmly beat De Gea.
Yet more shocking defending was to come from United. Vardy easily nudged Blackett aside and raced towards the box, only to be brought down by the young centre-half with an awful tackle from behind. Clattenburg had no option but to send Blackett off. Ulloa beat De Gea from 12 yards to seal Leicester’s fairytale victory.
Leicester boss Nigel Pearson reserved special praise for Cambiasso, who starred on his first start since joining the club on a free transfer from Inter Milan.
Pearson said: “He had a very profound influence on the game. It’s never easy for a player with such high expectations on him to come in against a side like Manchester United and run the show. Before today he had played 45 minutes of competitive football for us. He brings know-how, experience and quality.”