Football: Yorke inspires United's six-gun salute

Leicester City 2 Zagorakis 35, Walsh 73 Manchester United 6 Yorke 10 63 84, Cole 49 61, Stam 90 Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 22,091

ONLY ONE defeat in 10 games and yesterday powering into second place with a tumultuous second-half display in which Dwight Yorke completed his hat-trick. United are no longer tip-toeing back into championship contention but are stamping on the heels of Chelsea.

Their victory over a weakened Leicester came after what Alex Ferguson admitted had been a "careless first half" and was built on the firing partnership of Yorke and Andy Cole. "They could have scored four or five each," Ferguson said without boastfulness or exaggeration. "Their understanding is so good, but Leicester were always trying to take something from the game." Certainly they were, and Leicester's Martin O'Neill added: "You can't tell me that Andy Cole is not a top-class finisher or that United are anything but exceptional, but we had only 16 players to choose from today. I could have done with a couple of Alex's subs."

Leicester's familiar hope of defying the odds had been substantially reduced by losing their top scorer, Emile Heskey to flu, the central defenders Frank Sinclair and Matt Elliott to suspension and Andy Impey because of injury. O'Neill was left putting Tony Cottee and the inexperienced Stuart Wilson up front and envying Ferguson, who had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Ronny Johnsen on the bench.

The unusual frailty of the Leicester defence was apparent as David Beckham exposed them with a couple of extended accurate passes from which Leicester were unable to recover their composure. When, in the 10th minute, Denis Irwin also had them in uneasy retreat, his centre saw Cole feint to draw the attention of the defenders, while letting the ball travel on to Yorke, who had a simple tap-in.

Only by their failure to show a hunger for destroying Leicester's tenuous hopes in the immediate aftermath of their goal did United offer Leicester some slight chance of recovering. Even so it was never easy for Leicester to risk the support for their front two. Jaap Stam's strength and Irwin's quick eye for an upfield sprint turned any breaking down of a Leicester attack into an almost instant danger at the other end.

Whether Leicester could worm their way through the United defence was debatable, so Theo Zagorakis took the other option. In the 35th minute he gained possession some 25 yards out. Without hesitation he drove a ferocious shot beyond Peter Schmeichel to equalise. United had themselves to blame, but often they need just such a reminder.

Predictably, they re-emerged from a tea-time conversation that would not have pleased the vicar. Ears burning, they tore into Leicester. Beckham took a wider role. Ryan Giggs roamed extensively and was deep in midfield in the 49th minute to flight a long ball over Gerry Taggart to the feet of Cole who took it under control before sliding it past Kasey Keller.

A knock-down by Yorke should have seen Cole do more than sky the ball but, no matter, two goals in under two minutes dismissed that particular memory. Yorke sidled past Steve Walsh before releasing Cole who slipped the ball inside the far post.

A minute later Irwin threaded the ball down the left and Yorke scored a spectacular goal verging on the insulting. As Keller came out and tried to spread himself, Yorke moved almost to the goal-line but just inside the penalty area. Keller made no contact and Yorke shot in from that absurd angle.

To their immense credit Leicester dragged themselves back with typical defiance. Stuart Campbell, brought on as a substitute, placed a dangerous centre into the area. The ever-resourceful Steve Guppy hammered a shot which hit Walsh and flew past Schmeichel, who moments later was flinging himself to palm away a goal-bound shot from another Leicester substitute, Garry Parker. Nevertheless Yorke ought to have snatched United's fifth earlier than he did but dwelt fractionally on the ball to allow Keller to save. Yorke compensated by completing his hat-trick, again in liaison with Cole who took advantage of a weak back-header by Taggart. Cole clipped the bar and there was Yorke to make an easy goal become a gift. The result turned into one that Leicester must have feared with an injury- time sixth goal smuggled in by Stam from another fine long ball by the outstanding Beckham.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever