Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United suffered another setback in their bid to qualify for the Champions League next season by drawing 1-1 with Leicester at home in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who helped Portugal qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday, missed the game at Old Trafford with flu-like symptoms and United missed their top scorer’s tip.
United ended up needing a rare goal from Fred to secure a point, with the defensive midfielder scoring in the 66th – three minutes after Kelechi Iheanacho broke the deadlock for Leicester with a diving header.
United look less and less likely to salvage a Champions League place from the wreckage of a season in which the team has already been absent from all cup competitions.
Sitting in sixth place, United are four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who hold the final Champions League qualifying spot. Arsenal also have two games in hand, the first of which will take place at Crystal Palace on Monday.
Ninth-placed Leicester have another European competition on their minds – the third-tier Europa Conference League, where the side have progressed to the quarter-finals and will face PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.
The league may not be the priority, but Brendan Rodgers has always fielded a strong line-up at Old Trafford and Leicester have caused United plenty of problems.
Iheanacho’s goal was a wonderful team effort, with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall regaining possession with a fine covering tackle, James Maddison providing a precise cross with his left foot and Iheanacho producing a diving header past David De Gea.
United’s response was immediate, with Fred earning a rebound after Kasper Schmeichel could only parry the ball from Bruno Fernandes’ shot.
Maddison then had a goal ruled out by VAR for an earlier foul by Iheanacho, an incident Rodgers appeared to complain about to the full-time officials.