Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has accused his players of failing to kill off the game at 3-1 before losing 5-3 at Leicester City yesterday by committing “big errors as a team”.
Newly-promoted Leicester City provided an incredible turnaround in the second half after falling 3-1 behind thanks to Ander Herrera’s early goal in the second half. For the first time in 853 Premier League matches, United surrendered their two-goal lead to lose the game.
David Nugent (penalty), Esteban Cambiasso, Jamie Vardy and Leonardo Ulloa (penalty) scored four goals in just over 20 minutes to stun an expensive Manchester United side.
There was some controversy over Mark Clattenburg’s decision to award Leicester’s first penalty that started the comeback. Jamie Vardy who had been a nuisance to the United defence all game appeared to go down very easily with minimal contact from Rafael.
The Dutch manager did not use the penalty decision as an excuse for his side’s defending. Instead he said his side should have controlled possession to see the game out in the final half hour:
“I have been 25 years in this profession, I have already thought that I have another experience like that – with Barcelona we were three goals ahead with a quarter to play and we lost 3-4, so that was also with a top club.
“You never expect it when you are 3-1 ahead – for the second time [in the game] two goals ahead – then you have to kill the game and you have to keep possession. But we could not do that and then, of course, you give it away with penalties. Then you cannot win a game any more when you do that.”
Manchester United had taken a 2-0 lead after 16 minutes through a Rovin van Persie header that was excellently set up by Radamel Falcao on his first start for United. Then Ángel di María produced a sublime lob of Kasper Schmeichel from just inside the penalty area.
United’s vulnerability was exposed at the back throughout the game. Even for the first Leicester goal, Jamie Vardy beat Marcos Rojo to the ball and then his cross into the box for Ulloa’s first goal was left by two flat-footed defenders not attempting to challenge the Argentine striker in the air.
Tyler Blackett’s positioning was all over the place for David Nugent’s goal that gave the home side the lead. Fellow centre-back Chris Smalling wasn’t even in the vicinity as the 1-time England striker raced through one-on-one with David de Gea.
The Manchester United goalkeeper didn’t make a save all afternoon.
Louis van Gaal blamed the whole team on the defeat:
“You cannot say the defence was weak. You play like a team – Leicester showed that. We did not play like a team in the second half and that is not only in defence. In a defensive situation the whole team is responsible, not just one defender.”