Football: United caught cold by Cottee

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FIRST Coventry, then Southampton, now Leicester City; suddenly the untouchables of Old Trafford have a distinctly fallible look about them. Tony Cottee's 27th-minute strike was a nasty wake-up call for the Theatre of Dreams and consigned Manchester United to their second Premiership defeat in as many games.

It was only Cottee's second League start for Martin O'Neill's team and he moved them up to ninth place, cutting United's lead at the top to four points. Leicester were 8-1 with the bookmakers to win but belied those odds with a tremendous rearguard action in the second half. The champions had won their last 11 games at Old Trafford and had dropped just two League points at home all season. But this was their third loss in four games.

But it was not all bad news for Alex Ferguson as the two pursuers who could have closed the gap to two points, Liverpool and Blackburn, cancelled out each other in a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Jason McAteer was taken off on a stretcher with a broken leg adding to Liverpool's injury troubles. The Irish international will be out for up to three months.

There is now a log jam behind United with Chelsea beating Barnsley 2- 0 to move into joint second place with Liverpool and Blackburn.

Trevor Sinclair enjoyed his return to the Premiership when scoring both of West Ham United's goals to light up Upton Park. The efforts of the former Queen's Park Rangers striker were not enough, however, as Everton continued their recent good form to snatch a draw. They are now up to the heady heights of 14th place and looking upwards.

Reports, pages 20 and 21