Leicester City came from behind twice to deny Manchester United a record-equaling 11th straight English Premier League away win in a 2-2 Boxing Day draw at the King Power Stadium.
United looked set to move to within two points of leader Liverpool after man-of-the-match Bruno Fernandes put them 2-1 ahead in the 79th minute. But Jamie Vardy’s deflected effort, later given as an own goal, salvaged a point for the home side.
Leicester remained in second place in the standings, with United a further point back having played a game less.
Marcus Rashford made amends for a glaring early miss by putting United ahead in the 23rd minute after an assist by Fernandes but the lead did not last long as Harvey Barnes rifled home the leveler for the Foxes.
United’s impeccable away form has proved the catalyst for its burgeoning title challenge and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw it as an opportunity lost in missing out on three more points on the road.
“Disappointed that we didn’t win, we had loads of big chances that could have finished it off, but they are a dangerous side and the goal from Vardy showed his quality,” he told BT Sport.
Rashford, in the headlines on an off the pitch during the pandemic, was scoring his 50th Premier League goal. But the game was barely two minutes old when Fernandes found him with a chipped cross and he tamely headed over with the goal at his mercy.
‘He knows the first chance was a glorious one, missing that is just one of those things,” added Solskjaer.
Barnes’ superb strike, his seventh of the season, lifted Leicester and home side started the second half strongly but it was Rashford again who came close to adding to his tally.
Sent clear down the right by Fred Rodrigues, his fierce effort was brilliantly parried away by Kasper Schmeichel to keep the scores level.
Edinson Cavani came off the bench for Anthony Martial and he was soon in decisive action, finding Fernandes with a neat pass before the Portuguese international drove in his 10th Premier League goal of the season.
Leicester, so impressive in its 2-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, showed its fighting spirit and from an Ayoze Perez low cross it was Vardy who made the space to get away his first time shot on 85 minutes.
The ball found the United net via the leg of substitute Azel Tuanzebe, the effort officially recorded as an own goal by the Premier League, denying Vardy his 14th of the season.
“I don’t think I’ll get credited for that goal, I think it was going wide — but it’s got us a point that I thought we thoroughly deserved,” he told BT Sport.
United was looking to equal Chelsea’s record for consecutive away wins, set in 2008, but came up just short.
Arsenal stuns lackluster Chelsea
Chelsea had the opportunity to move up to second place in a congested league table, but instead fell victim to struggling Arsenal in a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium later on Boxing Day.
Mikel Arteta gambled on a youthful side, leaving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was a doubt with a calf injury, on the bench and it paid dividends.
It was his side’s first win in eight Premier League games and lifts the pressure which had been mounting on the Spaniard in a sorry run of defeats.
Alexandre Lacazette put the Gunners ahead from the spot after Reece James pulled down Kieran Tierney before Granit Xhaka blasted home a spectacular second from a free kick before the break, his first goal of the season.
Chelsea failed to improve in the second half and the impressive Bukayo Saka made in 3-0 on 56 minutes with an effort that may have been intended as a cross but left Edouard Mendy with no chance in the visiting goal.
Mo Elneny thumped a shot onto the crossbar as Arsenal pushed for a fourth but the home side had an anxious last few minutes after Tammy Abraham converted for Chelsea from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross.
Chelsea then won an 89th minute spot kick after Mason Mount was brought down but to typify a sorry day for the Blues, Jorginho’s weak penalty was saved by Bernd Leno.
“Obviously a really big win for us, we’ve been frustrated with results, our players were suffering, our fans were suffering, but hopefully this is a turning point,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
In the late matches, Everton beat rock-bottom Sheffield United 1-0 to move into second spot after a fourth straight win, while Manchester City stepped up its challenge with a 2-0 win over Newcastle to go fifth.