7 The Daily Telegraph Monday 27 July 2020 *** Lingard rubs salt in the wound Evans sent off Gray just wide Final whistle: United and Chelsea have done it Pts GD Pts GD Pts GD Pts GD who desperately jumped in to stop him and, although Evans was cautioned, it was Morgan who caught the striker first. With that little skip of his, Fernandes sent the ball into the corner to score his 10th goal of the season, including eight in the league (plus seven assists). That is more than any other player since he arrived in England and provides yet more evidence of the cutting edge he has brought to United. Falling short of Champions League qualification feels tough on Leicester even if, at the start of the season, a fifth-place finish, and with it entry into the Europa League, would have been hugely impressive. It still is, of course, but it is a long way since they won eight league games in a row in the autumn with just two victories in total since the season resumed, and only four in the league in 2020, confirming their drop-off. There was fault, also, in United’s second goal that came as Leicester again overplayed in defence, as substitute Jesse Lingard earned his reward for chasing down Kasper Schmeichel. The goalkeeper tried to check and beat Lingard, who took the ball off him and sidefooted into the unguarded net from the edge of the penalty area. It was Lingard’s first league goal since scoring twice in Solskjaer’s first game in caretaker charge in December 2018. Given Lingard’s peripheral role and the knowledge Solskjaer wants a clear-out, the goal might also be his last for United. Leicester had to win and set about United with that intent. They went close when Youri Tielemans rolled a shot narrowly past a post as United appeared jittery and fearful of Vardy. But despite their dominance, the best two opportunities fell to Marcus Rashford, who chipped wastefully over before forcing a smart near-post save from Schmeichel. Once behind Leicester pressed hard, forced United back but, even as Rodgers ran through his substitutes, the belief – and with it Champions League qualification – had gone. For United there is Fernandes. And fresh hope. 5 167 27 Fernandes, was far from his best, but influenced the game when it mattered. Indeed, before his contribution in helping to earn and convert the penalty, the biggest note had been Solskjaer angrily bellowing at Fernandes as he argued with assistant referee Lee Betts after feeling he had been fouled. But Fernandes was there to seize the moment when Hamza Choudhury tried to beat Mason Greenwood deep in his own half with the forward nicking the ball away. It ran to Fernandes, who played an astute first-time pass between Evans and Wes Morgan for Anthony Martial to run on to. Martial’s acceleration took him away from both centrehalves, 0 25 33 squad. We’ve arrived a bit earlier than what we thought, but the boys have had a very good season. “I can’t fault their effort and spirit. Next year it’s about ambition, improving the quality and this experience will serve us really well. Next year we have to add greater consistency.” Vardy did at least claim the prize for the league’s top scorer and become the oldest winner of the award at 33. Rodgers said: “We wouldn’t be where we are, challenging, without his quality and his goals. “He’s a joy to work with, every day with a smile on his face, he works so hard. It’s a huge accolade for him and we’re all delighted.” Hot shot 23 14 Jamie Vardy 22 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal Danny Ings 20 Raheem Sterling 19 Mohamed Salah Demarai Gray fires just wide of the far post as Leicester desperately try to get back into the game. It is their last chance
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