Late own goal ends Manchester United’s remarkable run of away wins

Manchester United's Congo-born English defender Axel Tuanzebe looks to play a pass during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on December 26, 2020.

An Axel Tuanzebe own goal denied resurgent Manchester United an opportunity to move into second place in the Premier League as he scored a late deflected equaliser in a 2-2 draw which finally ended United’s remarkable run of away wins and put the brakes, temporarily at least, on talk of a title challenge.

Ole Solskjaer’s side were looking for a record-equalling 11th successive away league victory and looked on course to get it when influential Bruno Fernandes put them 2-1 up at the King Power Stadium after Marcus Rashford’s early opener had been cancelled out by Harvey Barnes.

But Leicester managed to do what nobody else has been able to do this season when snatching the equaliser - off 

Tuanzebe - in the 85th minute.

The last time United dropped points away from home was in June at Tottenham, and they haven’t lost since a trip to Anfield in January, almost a year ago. But a draw here will probably be received just as well on Merseyside as anywhere else.

The positive side for United is that they had chances to win the match and in Bruno Fernandes had its biggest star. His goal and assist here means he has now been involved in 31 goals in 28 matches, either as scorer or provider, since joining United from Portugal.

But the negative is a missed opportunity to put pressure on Liverpool, and the sight of Victor Lindelof, surprisingly chosen to play at right-back, limping off with a back injury.

There was certainly a lot to consider when trying to predict this top of the table fixture on St Stephen’s Day with little to choose between the division’s two form teams behind leaders Liverpool.

Leicester arrived in second spot and boosted by a victory at Tottenham last week. But United, similarly, on a roll after a run of six away wins in a row - and United should have been ahead as early as the second minute when Rashford found himself completely free just seven metres from goal, but somehow managed to head over the bar from a Fernandes cross.

That was a combination which eventually reaped dividends in the 23rd minute when the revitalised Daniel James delivered a ball low into the box, and Fernandes stretched to get the smallest of touches to set up Rashford once more. This time the striker, with the ball at his feet rather than on his head, remained calm to fire home his 50th Premier League goal of his career.

Fernandes' infuence was clear to see but he was partly to blame for Leicester’s equaliser when he gave away possession cheaply and saw the ever-improving Barnes race on to beat Scott McTominay and fire home left-footed with goalkeeper David de Gea unsighted.

Solskjaer tweaked his tactics by bringing on Paul Pogba for James after 54 minutes and they could have regained the lead when Rashford found himself through on goal for the third time in the match six minutes later – only for Peter Schmeichel to deny him with a stunning one-handed save.

Anthony Martial was the next to beat Leicester’s high line, but his cool finish was ruled out for offside as the visitors grew in confidence, with an increased presence in the centre of the park.

United’s momentum was halted when Lindelof suffered a recurrence of a back injury, replaced by Axel Tuanzebe, but the arrival of Edinson Cavani from the bench was more positive.

The Uruguayan had been on the pitch less than four minutes when he poked a through-ball to Fernandes, whose finish was classy and unerring.

That should have been enough for victory but United’s defence is not as strong or as focused as their attack and they were undone when substitute Perez sent over a low cross that struck Axel Tuanzebe last before crossing the line. It leaves Leicester as Liverpool’s nearest rivals and United still improving but wondering if they could have done more.

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