Zlatan Gives United Edge Over Leicester in Community Shield

Sunday was an exciting time for Manchester United fans. For one, it was the official start of the José Mourinho era, and it was also the chance to see how their big name summer signings would fare in a competitive environment. Even better for the Red Devils’ faithful supporters was the announcement that Paul Pogba was officially going to have a medical at the club. With all of the excitement, it was honestly hard to stay focused on the task at hand. The Red Devils travelled to Wembley Stadium to take on reigning league champions Leicester City in the FA Community Shield. The Foxes, who captured the hearts and minds of fans around the globe last season, weren’t caught up in United’s fanfare and looked determined to rain on Mourinho’s parade.

After a quiet start to the match, Leicester got the first real chance in the 19th minute. Good interplay between Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki set the Japanese striker up for a curled effort that was deflected just wide of David De Gea’s net. The ensuing corner kick caused the Red Devils even more problems as Okazaki beat out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Michael Carrick for a glancing header that smacked against the crossbar. Was it only a matter of time before the Foxes found the back of the net?

United’s first big chance came in the 32nd minute and it was all because of Jesse Lingard. The 23-year-old, who scored the winner for the Red Devils in the FA Cup final last season, danced four Leicester defenders, nutmegging Wes Morgan along the way, and found himself one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel. The United academy product made no mistake as his shot overpowered the outstretch leg of Leicester’s keeper to find the back of the net. While his celebration was a little questionable, the score line wasn’t; United 1, Leicester 0.

Lingard’s goal was the only one of the half as both sides struggled to consistently create chances. You could argue that United were lucky to be ahead at the half, with Leicester looking dangerous on a few more occasions. Would that trend continue in the second 45 minutes?

Seven minutes into the second half, Leicester found their answer. A good interception from Marouane Fellaini seemed to stop the Foxes’ progress into United’s penalty area, but an errant back pass put Vardy completely through on goal. Vardy was never going to mess up this golden opportunity as he rounded De Gea before sliding home the equalizer. Maybe turning down Arsenal was the right move for him.

After Vardy’s goal the sides exchanged half chances with Rooney testing Schmeichel from distance, and a Leicester cross causing De Gea some problems. Zlatan looked to have an open net after a good hustle play from Rooney, but he couldn’t find the right contact as Danny Simpson cleared it away with ease.

In the 81st minute, Leicester’s big summer addition, Ahmed Musa, had a chance from point blank to potentially win his side the shield. An initial knockdown from Robert Huth fell awkwardly between De Gea and his backline; Musa used his poaching instinct to get his head on the ball inside the six-yard box, but it looped just over the woodwork and United were safe.

Two minutes later, Zlatan showed the crowd why he’s such a sought after talent. Antonio Valencia worked his way past Demarai Gray on the right wing and lofted a cross into the penalty area. Zlatan out-jumped Morgan for the header and sent the ball just out of Schmeichel’s reach off the far post. While today wasn’t his best game, all that will matter to Ibra is that he scored when it mattered.

Zlatan’s beautifully headed effort was enough to seal the first trophy of the Mourinho era as the Red Devils claimed a dramatic 2-1 victory. While this match may be considered a “friendly” by some, it never hurts to start the season with some silverware. Up next for Leicester is a trip to take on a beleaguered Hull City, and for United, a trip to Bournemouth awaits.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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