Manchester United opened the 2018/19 English Premier League season with a 2-1 win over Leicester City in opener thanks to goals by Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw.
Claude Puel retained Nigeria’s Wilfred Ndidi in Leicester’s line up, and Kelechi Iheanacho who had a goal-laden preseason led the attack, and both players were on the pitch for 90 minutes.
Old Trafford, more of a dull edifice last season, was treated to an early goal in the third minute when Ghana’s Daniel Armatey clumsily handled the ball in his penalty area, and the referee awarded a penalty kick.
Paul Pogba, World Cup winner and captain on the night, confidently converted his spot kick to give Man United the lead with the first EPL goal of the season.
The Super Eagles’ players both went close seconds-apart in the fifteenth minute, Ndidi’s long range shot was comfortably saved by De Gea, while Iheanacho’s low shot missed the far post from four yards out under pressure from Lindelof.
The game went into a lull until the 28th minute when Man United’s Spanish goalkeeper who flopped at Russia 2018 with just one save in four games, David De Gea, produced a brilliant one-handed save from James Madison’s shot from inside the area. Mourinho is known for making his team park the bus after taking the lead, but after riding a feeble Leicester pressure, the Old Trafford side were on the front foot again, going close through Luke Shaw and Alexis Sanchez as United went into halftime with their early lead.
The second half came alive after the hour mark when Pogba’s exquisite pass found the underpar Sanchez who’s pass was met by Juan Mata, but the Spaniard curled wide. De Gea had to be alert to save Gray’s flicked shot 15 minutes from time after Luke Shaw Lackadaisically lost the ball on the edge of the penalty area.
Kasper Schmeichel in Leicester’s goal produced an even better stop from substitute striker, Romelu Lukaku. One-on-one with the big Belgian, the Danish international goalkeeper closed down Lukaku to save with his feet. However, he could not stop Luke Shaw doubling the lead seven minutes from time. The injury-plagued left back, who was has been much criticized by Mourinho, ran unto Mata’s lobed pass, took a touch to go beyond Pereira before volleying beyond Schmeichel for his first career goal. Leicester clawed one back in added time through substitute, Jamie Vardy, who nodded in after Ricardo Pereira’s cross went unsighted and hit the bar before nodding home a goal that proved to be just consolatory.
Man United’s win comes as relief for the Red Devils’, especially manager, Jose Mourinho, who has cut a more frustrated figure at the club due to lack of summer signings. Manchester United’s next game is a visit to Leon Balogun’s Brighton and Hove Albion next weekend.