Leicester City 0-3 Manchester United: Foxes relegation fears heightened after another defeat
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 06/02/17 6:07am
Three goals in under eight minutes heightened Leicester's relegation fears after a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United at the King Power Stadium.
After a cagey start, United boss Jose Mourinho switched the formation, bringing Henrikh Mkhitaryan into a No 10 role, and it paid dividends as the Armenia international opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted his 20th goal of the season one minute and 28 seconds later.
Juan Mata scored a slick third four minutes after the break to make sure of the comfortable victory for United, who remain in sixth despite extending their unbeaten league run to 15 games.
Leicester's position is looking more perilous by the week, as they now sit just one point above the relegation zone. To make matters worse, the Foxes have now become the first side in Premier League history not to score in the first five league games of a calendar year.
United made three changes to the side that were held by Hull in midweek, with Mourinho deploying a flat 4-2-2 - something of a relic in the modern era.
The opening exchanges were scrappy as both teams struggled to find any rhythm, with Marcos Rojo's speculative effort from distance, which was easily saved, the only real attempt at goal.
The bitty nature of the game led to a few niggly challenges flying in, with Eric Bailly and Jamie Vardy trading petulant kicks that went unpunished.
A huge chance came and went in the 23rd minute, as Mkhitaryan clipped a cross into the path of an onrushing Marcus Rashford, but the United youngster couldn't control his half-volley on target, firing over.
Rashford was proving to be a real handful for Leicester. Kasper Schmeichel had to be at his athletic best to deny the 19-year-old at the foot of his post, after Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba had combined to tee the United youngster up.
The pressure told three minutes before the interval, though, as Mkhitaryan showed his class to break the deadlock.
The ball looped up into the air, Chris Smalling flicked it on, Mkhitaryan beat Huth to the ball and raced clear before firing into the top corner.
Then, in the blink of an eye it was 2-0. Antonio Valencia was afforded far too much space to work space for the cross, drilled across the penalty area, Ibrahimovic held back, before converting a first-time shot into the net.
Just as the Foxes were settling into the second half, United produced an incisive move to make their position more comfortable. Mata played the ball into the feet of Mkhitaryan, who waited for Mata to make the run, returned the pass, with Wes Morgan playing the Spain international onside, before sweeping the ball home.
Riyad Mahrez did come close to getting his side back in it moments later, but his free-kick only found the side netting.
Down the other end, Mata really should have added a fourth when clean through, but got his finish all wrong as Schmeichel rushed out to deny him.
The rest of the match was a mere procession for United, but Leicester's worries increased tenfold, especially with a trip to Swansea next up, live on Sky Sports.
Leicester: Schmeichel (4), Simpson (3), Morgan (3), Huth (3), Fuchs (3), Drinkwater (3), Ndidi (4), Musa (4), Mahrez (3), Okazaki (3), Vardy (4).
Subs: King (4), Gray (5).
Manchester United: De Gea (6), Valencia (7), Bailly (6), Smalling (6), Rojo (6), Herrera (7), Pogba (6), Mata (8), Mkhitaryan (8), Rashford (7), Ibrahimovic (7).
Subs: Blind (6), Fellaini (6).
Man of the match: Henrikh Mkhitaryan