Football: Foxes' championship party put on ice

Leicester City's captain Wes Morgan (in blue) heading past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea for the equaliser. The match ended 1-1, which means the Foxes have only lost three of their 36 league games this season.
Leicester City's captain Wes Morgan (in blue) heading past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea for the equaliser. The match ended 1-1, which means the Foxes have only lost three of their 36 league games this season. PHOTO: REUTERS

Leicester now need two points for crown, but will be champions if Spurs draw or lose today

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester United 1

Leicester City 1

Typical Manchester United, perhaps. Louis van Gaal's team, low on goals and entertainment alike, had already established a reputation as the season's premier killjoys, even before delaying Leicester's title-winning celebrations.

It may only be for a day. If Tottenham fail to beat Chelsea tonight, the crown will be Leicester's. If not, Everton's visit on Saturday should be a coronation.

WHAT THE LEICESTER FANS SAY

It’s not easy to play Manchester United at home,and it won’t be easy for Spurs to beat Chelsea at home either. We’re home free if Spurs draw, and we’re lucky that we didn’t lose.The one point was crucial.

PRESTON PHILLIPS, 51, financial planner.

Fellaini should have been sent off and Drinkwater didn't deserve the red card, but we deserved the draw.

MARTIN RUNSHAUG, 37, runs candy distributing firm Scan-Food.

If Spurs lose,we will win, but it will be a bit of a non-event. I almost hope that they beat Chelsea so that we can win in front of the fans in Leicester.

BEN WHEELER, 36,money broker.

The whole pub went crazy when the equaliser was scored. It was so crowded, I could hardly even move around.

VIKARAMAN RAJARATANAM, 26, University of Leicester student.

Leicester had given themselves margin for error and they could afford to drop two points at Old Trafford. This may prove a costlier result for United, who started superbly and deteriorated.

The Foxes began badly and were behind inside eight minutes but they clawed their way back into the game. Captain Wes Morgan showed why he is a figure of such stature by scoring a vital equaliser.

His colleagues played with similar commitment. Leicester display unity and structure. They are formidably hard to beat and this draw means they have only lost three of their 36 league games.

Like their league position, it is testament to Claudio Ranieri and the strong group of characters Leicester have assembled. Their fans were raucous, United's muted.

The reactions in the stands were responses to wildly different seasons. United's pedigree was briefly evident but so were Leicester's powers of recovery. They were the worse team for the first and last 15 minutes and arguably the better in between, aided by their set-piece prowess and organisation.

Initially, and uncharacteristically, they looked a little ragged. United capitalised. Antonio Valencia cut infield and delivered a cross with the outside of his right foot. He found Anthony Martial, who had escaped from former United defender Danny Simpson and drilled a low shot through Kasper Schmeichel's defence.

The Dane made a fine save from Jesse Lingard but the goalkeeper, son of United's greatest shot-stopper, was not unduly troubled for another hour until Chris Smalling's header clipped the outside of his post.

Leicester had equalised long before then. Danny Drinkwater chipped a free kick to Morgan who, with Marcos Rojo making an abject attempt to mark him, levelled with a header.

Morgan continued to torment Rojo at set-pieces while Riyad Mahrez troubled him in open play. Shinji Okazaki came closest to a title-deciding winner but just could not quite connect with Simpson's cross.

But Leicester were troubled by Martial's pace and Marouane Fellaini's uncompromising physicality. It manifested itself in the wrong way.

The Belgian was not punished when he elbowed Robert Huth. If Michael Oliver had spotted it, United would have spent three quarters of the game with 10 men and Leicester may be already be champions.

Instead, Leicester were depleted when their former United trainee Drinkwater was shown a second yellow card for tugging Memphis Depay.

Perhaps it should have been a penalty but Drinkwater will get a ban. He should soon have a medal, too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'Foxes' party put on ice'. Print Edition | Subscribe