CHAMPIONS Leicester’s fall from grace continued apace as Manchester United took them apart at the King Power Stadium yesterday.
With the Foxes’ grip on a Premier League place lessening by the week, and rumours circulating over manager Claudio Ranieri’s future, Jose Mourinho arrived in town to heap more misery on them. Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata did the job for the visitors.
But more comical defending and lack of cohesion will increase the fears last season’s title winners could yet go down.
The liveliest it got while goalless was when Mata flew into a challenge that saw Jamie Vardy spin in the air. With home fans baying for a red card, referee Anthony Taylor dished out a booking.
Mkhitaryan’s exceptional run and finish saw United break the deadlock three minutes before the end of a tight first half.
The Armenian beat the bumbling Robert Huth to Chris Smalling’s flick-on and ran forward to fire past Kasper Schmeichel and give his men the breakthrough they needed.
Just 88 seconds later, the writing was on the wall for the home side as Antonio Valencia fizzed in a cross which Ibrahimovic struck through Wes Morgan’s legs and past the stricken Schmeichel for 2-0 and game over.
Within minutes of the restart things got worse for Ranieri’s men as Mkhitaryan and Mata linked up superbly.The latter ran behind the hosts’ backline to collect a return pass and fired past Schmeichel as Leicester looked for an offside call that never came.
United could have made it four as Marcus Rashford was played down the flank by Mkhitaryan, forcing Schmeichel into a save from an acute angle. The Foxes’ tepid response saw Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick hit the side-netting.
United continued to look the more likely to score as Leicester became the first top-flight club since 1986 not to score in their first five league matches of a calendar year.
It leaves them one point and two places off the drop-zone, with relegation a very real threat.
Jose on the attack now his style is an ‘art form’
JOSE MOURINHO was a satisfied man after watching his Manchester United team close to within two points of the top four with a ruthless 3-0 win at Leicester, and chose to hit out at his critics afterwards.
The comfortable victory extended United’s unbeaten Premier League run to 15 matches and was a welcome fillip after the stalemate with Hull at Old Trafford last Wednesday.
‘It was really important for us. We lost two points in the last match at home and had three consecutive draws, so we needed the points,’ said Mourinho. Despite the result the Portuguese, who won three titles with Chelsea, appeared to be irritated over past criticism of his style of play.
He added: ‘My team is playing very well but for many, many years in my career, especially in this country, when my teams were ruthless and when they were phenomenal defensively and very good in the counter-attack, I listened week after week it was not enough, in spite of winning the title three times.
‘It looks like this season to be phenomenal defensively and be good at counter-attack is art, so it’s a big change in England.’