MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United was dealt a further setback in its bid to secure Champions League qualification for next season by drawing with Leicester 1-1 at home in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Ronaldo, who helped Portugal qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday, missed the game at Old Trafford with flu-like symptoms and United missed the cutting edge of its top scorer.
United ended up needing a rare goal from Fred to get a point, the defensive midfielder scoring in the 66th — three minutes after Kelechi Iheanacho broke the deadlock for Leicester with a diving header.
United looks increasingly unlikely to salvage a place in the Champions League from the wreckage of a season in which the team is already out of every cup competition.
Sitting in sixth place, United is four points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, which occupies the final Champions League qualification spot. Arsenal also has two games in hand, the first of which comes at Crystal Palace on Monday.
Ninth-placed Leicester has another European competition on its mind — the third-tier Europa Conference League, where the team has advanced to the quarterfinals and will play PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.
The league might not be the priority but Brendan Rodgers still fielded a strong lineup at Old Trafford and Leicester caused United lots of problems.
Iheanacho’s goal was a wonderful team effort, with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall regaining possession with a fine covering tackle, James Maddison providing a pinpoint cross with his left foot, and Iheanacho producing a diving header past David De Gea.
United’s response was immediate, with Fred ramming home a rebound after Kasper Schmeichel could only parry the ball out from Bruno Fernandes’ shot.
Maddison later had a goal ruled out by VAR for an earlier foul by Iheanacho, an incident that Rodgers appeared to complain about to the officials at fulltime.