Manchester United 1 Leicester City 0

Tuesday 13th April 2004
Old Trafford, Manchester

Manchester United picked up another three points against Leicester on Tuesday night to continue their recent return to form. In a game where United had almost full possession of the ball, and where Leicester had men behind the ball, Gary Neville had chance to get forward, and to snatch his first goal in three years!

After a tense and nervy start, with Roy Carroll failing to make a clearance (Instead, he passed the ball to Leicester's Muzzy Izzett 8 yards away from goal, who, fortunately, though predictably, missed). Carroll looked on edge all night, and, for my money, is not the world class keeper that United deserve. And after so many mistakes of late, let's hope Howard makes a comeback.

Sir Alex fielded a young side, but also a very capable one. With Giggs, Keane and Van Nistelrooy all rested or injured, it gave a chance for Ronaldo, Bellion and Forlan to step up into the first team. Whilst Ronaldo was simply scintillating, and a joy to watch, Bellion did little to impress. He was playing on the right of midfield, and United didn't play as much down his flank as they usually would. Forlan didn't really have many chances to mess up, but I'm sure he would've done, had he been given the chance!

Indeed, Forlan made the back pages of the newspapers in the UK after he walked straight down the tunnel after being substituted. Sir Alex was not happy that he didn't go back to the dug-out, and Forlan probably received the hairdryer treatment when Sir Alex got back to the changing rooms, not to mention rumours that "Forlan the Flop" is on his way out of United in the summer.

United were battling away, and completely dominating the game with their clever passing, and neat footwork. But for all the possession, Leicester actually had more chances to score in the first half. Leicester were playing with an eight-man defence, who were giving their all to stop the Reds from scoring.

Marcus Bent had arguably the best chance of the game just after half-time. He had a free header six yards away from goal. Luckily for United, Bent sent the ball sailing over the crossbar, and United regrouped, found their feet, and the same pattern of play as the first half began to emerge: United having the ball, but not getting goals.

United's long shots were about all that were peppering the Leicester keeper, but most of them simply ballooned over the bar, or gently bounced into the Leicester keeper's hands.

After some more great wing play by Ronaldo, who was being a real nuisance on the left wing, the young Portuguese international raced into the box. John O'Shea crossed the ball, and Ronaldo headed the ball towards goal. The Leicester keeper managed to block the header, but could only palm the ball down to the feet of Gary Neville, who belted the ball into the back of the net from two yards with great aplomb.

After getting the goal, United seldom looked in danger of conceding an equaliser, and, though Leicester did have the odd shot or cross, they lacked the belief that they could score against United. Without their conviction, they were no match for the Reds.

The game ended as it had begun, with Ronaldo creating excitement by running rings around the Leicester team. He truly will be a sensational player, and was rightfully named as Sky Sports' man of the match.

Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Butt, Scholes, Bellion (Djemba-Djemba 83), Forlan (Fletcher 57), Saha.

Subs Not Used: Howard, Solskjaer, Giggs.

Leicester: Walker, Thatcher, Dabizas, Heath, Scimeca, McKinlay, Izzet, Freund (Gillespie 66), Stewart (Scowcroft 66), Bent, Dickov (Guppy 77).

Subs Not Used: Nalis, Canero.

Booked: Scimeca, Dabizas, Thatcher.

Attendance: 67,749

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire)