Manchester United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (R) jumps to win a header during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford in Manchester
Substitutes Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini struck to maintain Manchester United’s 100 percent start to the Premier League season in a 2-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday.
Rashford, dropped to the bench to make way for Anthony Martial, turned in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s corner in the 70th minute, less than three minutes after coming on.
Fellaini added a late second from Jesse Lingard’s cross-shot to send Jose Mourinho’s side back to the top of the table after Huddersfield Town briefly overtook them by drawing with Southampton earlier in the day.
But it looked as if they would be denied when Kasper Schmeichel made a superb penalty save from Romelu Lukaku early in the second half.
The Leicester goalkeeper, son of former United great Peter Schmeichel, dived to his right to push away Lukaku’s kick.
The home side began full of confidence, threatening in the opening minute as Leicester captain Wes Morgan blocked a shot from Mkhitaryan after good build-up play down the United right.
Craig Shakespeare’s side had to work hard to withstand that early pressure, with Morgan at full stretch in central defence alongside new England squad member Harry Maguire.
United, though, continued to press, with Juan Mata unlucky to have a goal ruled out for a marginal offside in the 18th minute.
Paul Pogba’s cross was cleared unconvincingly by Maguire and Lukaku turned on the edge of the area to hit a shot that Mata followed up to sweep in after Schmeichel had parried.
Assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis raised his flag, but Mata looked to have been level with the Leicester back line as Lukaku let fly.
Fired by that perceived injustice, United went close twice in quick succession.
– Mahrez menaces –
First Pogba half-volleyed Martial’s outswinging cross just wide at the far post and then Schmeichel dived athletically to his right to paw away a bending Mata shot.
Shinji Okazaki had a half-chance for Leicester at the other end, with David de Gea gathering his low shot from Jamie Vardy’s knock-down.
But United continued to look the more dangerous side, with Pogba hitting a fierce 30-yard shot that flew just wide.
Schmeichel was alert to gather Martial’s snapshot from 20 yards, before beating away a Pogba effort and then watching another drive from the France midfielder whizz by his right-hand post.
Having been well protected by his defenders in the first half, Schmeichel was inspired to keep the game goalless when United were awarded a penalty in the seventh minute of the second half.
Leicester’s former United right-back Danny Simpson was adjudged to have handled Martial’s driven cross from the left, but Schmeichel flung himself to his right to push away Lukaku’s spot-kick.
That gave the visitors the confidence to be a little more adventurous, with winger Riyad Mahrez cutting in from the right and driving a ball to the near post that De Gea kicked away.
Mahrez, repeatedly linked with a move away from Leicester, began to carry more of a threat, scuffing one shot wide and then breaking onto a pass by substitute Demarai Gray to deliver a dangerous cross.
But 20 minutes from the end, Rashford diverted in Mkhitaryan’s right-wing corner on the volley, with Schmeichel only able to push it into the roof of the net.
Victory was secured in the 82nd minute as Fellaini diverted in fellow substitute Lingard’s cross, despite replays suggesting he had been offside.
The visitors almost pulled one back in stoppage time, but De Gea reacted well to turn away Andy King’s close-range shot. Lukaku then blazed over at the other end.
FIFA President, Infantino tests positive for COVID-19
FIFA Chief, Gianni Infantino has contracted coronavirus popularly known as COVID-19, the world’s football governing body announced on Tuesday.
According to the information scooped from AFP, the 50-year-old has mild symptoms and will remain in isolation for a further 10 days.
“All people who came into contact with the FIFA President during the last few days have been informed accordingly and they are being requested to take the necessary steps,” the body said.
“FIFA sincerely wishes President Infantino a speedy recovery,” it added.
Infantino’s last public appearances was at FIFA’s Compliance Summit which ended on October 16 when all attendees were present via video.
Cases, hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 in the body’s base, Switzerland, have doubled from one week to the next throughout October.
The country’s government is expected to decide Wednesday on new measures to control the spread of the virus.
The spread of the illness has cast doubt over Wednesday’s potential meeting between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Champions League after the Juventus attacker tested positive for the illness earlier this month.
Barcelona: Real reason for Messi’s u-turn
“The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he didn’t end up keeping his word,” Messi said in an interview with Goal, released on Friday.
“I thought and we were sure that I was free. The president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I stayed or not and now they hold on to the fact that I did not say it before June 10 when it turns out that on June 10 we were competing for the league in the middle of this shitty virus and this disease that altered all the dates.”
Messi, 33, added: “And this is the reason why I am going to continue in the club… because the president told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700-million-euro release clause.
“This is impossible, and then the other way was to go to trial. I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.”
Messi had said he wanted to leave the club he joined as a boy after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.
His lawyers sent a burofax stating his intention to go for free on August 25 but Messi says he had made his feelings clear to Bartomeu many times before.
“I told the club, especially the president, that I wanted to go,” said Messi. “I’ve been telling him all year. I believed it was time to step aside.
‘Everything became difficult’
“I believed that the club needed more young people, new people and I thought my time in Barcelona was over, feeling very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.
“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new goals, new horizons.
“It wasn’t because of the Champions League result against Bayern, I had been thinking about it for a long time. I told the president and the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not end up keeping his word.”
Despite his unhappiness, Messi insists he will give his all for Barcelona next season under their new coach Ronald Koeman, with his current contract due to expire in June next year.
Messi set to quit Barcelona
Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he wants to “unilaterally” terminate his contract with the Spanish giants, a club source confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.
Lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barca a fax in which they announced Messi’s desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause.
However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.
“In principial, this clause expired on June 10, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.
“It’s the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to 700 million euros.”
According to Spanish media, Messi met with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman last week and told the Dutchman he saw himself “more out than in” the club.
“The end of the glorious era of Leo Messi at Barcelona seems to be close. After the arrival of Ronald Koeman, what looks like the exit of his friend Luis Suarez and a difficult and turbulent end to the season, Messi told Barcelona in a fax of his intention to leave the club,” said Once radio station.
Barcelona suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon earlier this month, resulting in the dismissal of coach Quique Setien after barely six months in charge.
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