Marcus Rashford scored twice as Manchester United beat Leicester City 3-0 at Old Trafford to make this his most-prolific season ever and move Erik ten Hag’s side within three points of second.
Rashford, who has now surpassed his previous tally of 22 with 24 goals, gave the hosts the lead against the run of play in the first half after a strong start from Leicester before doubling their advantage following a VAR intervention to overrule an offside.
Leicester collapsed somewhat in the second half and substitute Jadon Sancho added United’s third – playing in a new No 10 role after replacing Alejandro Garnacho at half-time – as Ten Hag’s side took full advantage of second-placed Man City drawing at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
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Marcel Sabitzer was fortunate not to be sent off for a high challenge on Leicester defender Wout Faes at the end of the first half and United had to rely on two huge saves from goalkeeper David De Gea in the opening 20 minutes as they rode their luck under early pressure from the Foxes, whose three-game winning run comes to an end.
How Rashford broke scoring record against Leicester
Leicester exposed holes in United’s defence early on with Tete causing the hosts all manner of problems down the right hand-side. It could have been a different result had De Gea not produced two spectacular saves to deny Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho, the second of which was particularly impressive as he clawed the ball away from goal.
Failure to capitalise on their dominance soon cost Leicester as Rashford found the back of the net for a fifth game running with a powerful effort at an angle. The 25-year-old had a big pocket of space to run on to Bruno Fernandes’ pass after Wout Faes vacated his position and took full advantage, powering past Danny Ward.
United’s vulnerability defensively was plain to see but they had a golden chance to double their lead before the break only for right-back Diogo Dalot to spoon his effort wide with an awkward attempt from close-range after Fernandes’ low cross to the back post.
Bayern Munich loanee Sabitzer avoided any punishment for a bad tackle on Faes in the closing stages of the first period. Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness said on Super Sunday: “I don’t care what some referee who has never played the game wants to say. That is a sending off. That is dangerous play.”
United asserted their authority in the second period as they pushed for a second with Ten Hag bringing on Sancho in a central position behind the striker. The switch soon paid dividends as Rashford scored a second following a VAR intervention to overrule the initial offside decision. He now has 16 goals in 17 games since the World Cup.
Sancho, whose introduction into the middle gave United a new lease of life, then got in on the act himself as he finished a slick move, meeting Fernandes’ low cross with his left foot to put the game out of sight for Leicester, who must settle with being 14th in the table and four points above the drop zone.
Man Utd’s upcoming fixtures
February 23: Barcelona (A) – Europa League knockout round play-off second leg, kick-off 8pm
February 26: Newcastle (Wembley) – EFL Cup final, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
March 1: West Ham (H) – FA Cup fifth round, kick-off 7.45pm
March 5: Liverpool (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
March 11: Southampton (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
March 19: Brighton (A) – Premier League, kick-off 2pm
Manchester United’s attention now turns to their Europa League play-off second leg against Barcelona, with the Spanish league leaders visiting Old Trafford on Thursday; kick-off 8pm.
Erik ten Hag’s side then take on Newcastle United at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.
Leicester City are next in action on Saturday when they host Arsenal; kick-off 3pm. Brendan Rodgers’ side then face an FA Cup tie at home to Blackburn on Tuesday February 28; kick-off 7.30pm.