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These 3 strikers would be perfect to replace Jamie Vardy at Leicester – including this 16-goal star

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Leicester City Opinions: 3 realistic successors to Jamie Vardy at Leicester

Leicester City are a club that somehow managed to achieve what was considered to be impossible in the modern era in the presence of monstrous teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City

They won the Premier League against all the odds and looked like they should be champions-elect right from the first fixture of the season.

With sheer hard work and passion for the cause from the men in blue, Claudio Ranieri had got something going at the King Power Stadium.

With some excellent work in midfield from Danny Drinkwater and World Cup winner N’Golo Kante, who are both Chelsea players now, they were able to dominate even teams from the top-6 and thereby hold top spot right until the final day of the season.

The main factor in that season were the crucial goals and most of them were delivered by English forward Jamie Vardy.

The man who rose from playing Sunday league football to the Premier League level in the blink of an eye, Vardy’s exploits for the Foxes that season are part of history.

His goals have kept the Foxes fans going through difficult times after that as well and despite his ripe age of 32, he still delivers on a consistent basis and works his socks off each and every time he steps on the football pitch.

While he is a club legend, at 32, the need to look for alternative is high and this summer could be the perfect time. Here are three players who can readily replace the talismanic forward:

Jean-Pierre Nsame

The Cameroonian international forward has become a key player for BSC Young Boys since making the switch from Servette for a meagre sum of under a full million.

The 25-year-old has been in good league form and has picked up 8 goals from his 20 games this term. Tall and well-built, his size certainly doesn’t deter with him mobility and using his long strides, he puts himself about on the pitch and that could just what Leicester need.

Oliver McBurnie

The young Scottish international forward has been brilliant up-front for Swansea City this season and he is the club’s top scorer as well. With 16 goals and 4 assists from his 33 appearances, his efficiency certainly doesn’t need to be questioned.

Still only 22, he has the right attributes to make a name for himself in the English game and his movement and positioning in the box will suit the talented midfielders in the Foxes ranks and that’s why this move is assured to be a hit.

Sam Lammers

The Dutch youth international is a very highly rated PSV academy product who is currently employed by fellow Eredivisie club Heerenveen for who he has scored 14 times this season from 23 appearances.

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With 5 assists to his name as well, at just 21, he has the perfect opportunity to announce himself by making the switch to King Power where he would be able to sit in perfectly given his attacking and finishing capabilities.

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Leicester City

5 of the best bargain buys in the Premier League since the turn of the decade

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5 best bargain buys in the Premier League since the turn of the decade

The 2019 summer transfer window has already witnessed some big-money arrivals in the Premier League.

Man United have made their intentions very clear by forking out £50million for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Leicester City have paid £40million to Monaco for Youri Tielemans and Spurs have come out of their reluctancy to spend big by snapping up Tanguy Ndombele for £60million, whilst Man City have shattered their club-record fee by splashing £62.8 million on Rodri. 

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These transfers have certainly made the headlines in the tabloids and things are expected to heat up even more in the coming weeks as the deadline day in August looms large.

Well, we all know that money flows quite easily in the Premier League nowadays and the fans would probably recall the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool throwing around millions in the transfer window last summer to bring in goalkeepers Arrizabalaga and Alisson respectively.

Similarly, the 2018 summer window also witnessed some shrewd acquisitions by a few clubs, with the likes of Liverpool, Wolves and Arsenal bringing in Xherdan Shaqiri, Joao Moutinho and Matteo Guendouzi from Stoke City, Monaco and FC Lorient respectively. 

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All the aforementioned players arrived the respective clubs for relatively small sums of money but they proved themselves to be as good as gold for such thrifty amounts.

Due to the exponential rise in the involvement of finances in football over the years, even the lesser clubs in the Premier League have the money in their bank to pull off audacious raids on the heavyweights nowadays.

Leicester City might have spent £30million to sign Ayoze Perez this summer but it is worth mentioning that Newcastle United had paid Tenerife only £1.5million to secure the Spaniard’s services back in 2014.

Going by whatever Perez went on to achieve at Tyneside over the course of five seasons, it is a no-brainer that the Spaniard was, indeed, a monumentous bargain for the Magpies.

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It is true that the Premier League clubs are spendthrifts these days, yet, realistically, they always have to be aware of the financial fair play regulations and it is certainly not possible for them to splash out millions in every transfer window.

And that is exactly why the bargain deals – be it plucking out unproven talents from far corners of the world or nabbing proven players from the lower divisions, are so crucial to the success of any team.

Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at some deals since the turn of the decade when players coming in for thrifty amounts have exceeded expectations.

1. Steven Davis – £800,000 (Rangers to Southampton)

Steven Davis won three Scottish Premiership titles, three Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups over the course his five-season stay at Ibrox, having initially joined the Old Firm giants on loan from Fulham back in 2008.

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The Northern Irishman, who was also a part of the Rangers side that reached the 2007-08 UEFA Cup final, moved to Southampton for a paltry £800,000 in 2012 prior to the Gers’ insolvency issues and subsequent demotion to the fourth-tier.

Despite lacking creativity and natural finesse, the central midfielder went on to establish himself as a firm fan favourite at St. Mary’s due to his drive, determination, willingness to compete and hunger for success.

Davis netted 14 goals in 226 appearances for the Saints before returning to Rangers in January 2019.

2. Patrick van Aanholt – £1.5million (Chelsea to Sunderland)

The Dutch international made only 8 appearances for Chelsea over the course of five seasons and spent time on loan at five different clubs, including Vitesse Arnhem where he stayed on for nearly two-and-a-half seasons before finally getting an opportunity to make his mark in the Premier League with Sunderland.

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The Black Cats spent just £1.5million to sign the left-back in 2014 and Van Aanholt, who had faded into oblivion as a part of Chelsea’s loan army, went on to establish himself as one of the standout performers at the club.

The Dutchman made 95 appearances for Sunderland in all competitions, scoring 9 goals in the process before joining Crystal Palace in January 2017.

3. James McArthur – £400,000 (Hamilton Academical to Wigan Athletic)

A part of the Hamilton Academical side that won the 2007-08 Scottish First Division title to secure promotion to the Scottish Premiership, James McArthur impressed with his strength, tenacity, drive, fluent passing and youthful exuberance in the top-flight north of the border for a couple of seasons before joining Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2010.

McArthur reunited with former Hamilton player James McCarthy following his move to the DW Stadium.

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After featuring sporadically in his first season, McArthur gradually established himself as first-team regular in his second season at the club, scoring against the likes of Bolton and Spurs in the Premier League.

McArthur helped Wigan secure the FA Cup in the 2012-13 season with a surprise 1-0 win against Man City in the final, although the Latics went down to the Championship in the same season.

McArthur stayed for a season in the Championship but he eventually departed for Crystal Palace in 2014.

Wigan are yet to make it back to the Premier League but the Latics would hardly rue the £400,000 that they spent on him given that the Scotsman went on to register a total of 156 appearances for them.

4. Robert Huth – £3million (Stoke City to Leicester City)

After spending five successful seasons at Stoke City in the Premier League, Robert Huth fell out of favour in the 2014-15 campaign and joined Leicester City on loan in January 2015 to help the Foxes in their bid for survival in the top-flight.

Huth made 14 appearances in the second half of the campaign and was one of the key driving forces behind their sudden upturn of form, as Nigel Pearson’s side came back from the brink of relegation to the secure a comfortable 14th-place finish.

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As a result of his fine performances, Huth was signed permanently by Leicester for a fee of £3million and the German went on to play a key role in the Foxes’ surprise Premier League triumph in the 2015-16 campaign, thus joining the elite list of players to have won the top-flight title with two different clubs.

The former Chelsea man played until the end of the 2016-17 season before his career came to a premature end due to ankle and foot injuries.

5. Andre Ayew- Free Transfer (Marseille to Swansea City)

Having scored 60 goals in 209 appearances for Marseille, Swansea looked to have pulled off a massive coup when they brought the Ghanaian in on a free transfer in the summer of 2015.

And Ayew proved himself to be the biggest bargain in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season, as the versatile left-winger struck 12 goals in his debut campaign in English football. 

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Ayew was sold to West Ham just after a single full season, with the Hammers splashing the cash to sign the Ghanaian. However, in a twist of fate, Swansea splashed a similar amount to bring him back to the club in January 2018.

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A tribute to Jamie Vardy – celebrating his incredible rise from being a non-league rookie to a PL icon

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A tribute to Jamie Vardy- celebrating his incredible rise from a non-league rookie to an England star and a Premier League icon

From the obscurity of non-league football to Premier League stardom, Jamie Vardy’s meteoric rise up the footballing pyramid in England has been an incredibly inspiring journey, to say the least.

There is hardly anyone who would have heard about him seven years ago when he was plying his trade with Fleetwood Town in the Conference Premier but he is now a cult hero at Leicester City and a former England international.

There has hardly been any footballer in England in the 21st century who has completed such an exponential rise from a being a non-league rookie to one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League.

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Joe Lolley, who currently plies his trade in the Championship with Nottingham Forest, could, by some ways, be the nearest example, although he hasn’t matched Vardy’s exploits by any means.

Vardy’s incredible scoring form in Leicester City’s awe-inspiring Premier League triumph made him a cult hero at the club but that is only a part of his newly-found stardom.

Vardy’s consistently impressive performances in the Premier League has transformed him into an icon; a hugely influential figure in English football, and a former England international.

Yes, it might be hard to believe but the once non-league rookie donned the Three Lions jersey at two major tournaments in recent times – 2016 Euro Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

He announced his retirement from international football after scoring 7 goals in 26 appearances for England, with a bulk of those goals coming against top European nations like Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Vardy is now 32 but he is still looking good for plenty more in the Premier League for the years to come. However, it is certainly worth revisiting the incredible rise of the Sheffield-born ace, which should go down as one of the most inspirational stories in the history of football.

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Early Years

Vardy started his career in the youth ranks at Sheffield Wednesday but he was released at the age of 16 and joined Stocksbridge Park Steels F.C in 2003.

He made his way through the reserve team and into the first-team before making his debut in 2007 in non-league football. Vardy impressed with his stellar displays at Stocksbridge and attracted interest from elsewhere, whilst a trial at Crewe Alexandra ended in failure.

Vardy, however, continued to excel in non-league football and joined F.C Halifax Town in the Northern Premier League in 2010, scoring 25 goals in 37 appearances in his debut season to propel his new club to a triumphant league campaign.

Vardy’s scoring heroics earned him the Players’ Player of the Year award and after just over a year with Halifax, Vardy signed for Conference Premier outfit Fleetwood Town.

The striker’s first season in the Conference Premier proved to be a fruitful one, as Vardy netted 31 goals in 26 appearances to propel Fleetwood Town to their first-ever promotion to the Football League.

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Entry into the Championship

Vardy’s incredible strike rate at Fleetwood Town, which saw him finish as the top scorer in the Conference Premier, prompted Championship promotion-hopefuls Leicester City to make a move for him. He was offered a first-team role under then manager Nigel Pearson.

As a matter of fact, Vardy never played in League Two and League One and made a direct jump from non-league football to the Championship, which, indeed, is an incredibly bold step for any player.

His first season at Leicester City was not smooth sailing, as Vardy found the net on just 4 occasions in 26 appearances in the second-tier. Leicester’s gamble on Vardy failed to pay the dividends at the first time of asking.

However, Pearson and his assistant Craig Shakespeare convinced him to stay and that would ultimately prove to be another talking point of his rise in football.

Vardy put the disappointment of the 2012-13 season behind him and spearheaded the attack brilliantly in the following season, scoring 16 goals to propel the Foxes to the Premier League as the outright winners of the Championship. 

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Premier League debut and still going strong

Vardy proved his credentials to thrive in the Championship but many would have expected Leicester to sideline him or loan him out to another second-tier outfit upon securing promotion to the Premier League. However, Pearson showed immense faith in Vardy and opted to field him up front as a regular starter in the top-flight.

And Vardy repaid his manager’s faith in him with a man-of-the-match display against Man United, helping the Foxes come back from 3-1 down to an eventual 5-3 victory.

The 32-year-old never looked back and produced a number of eye-catching performances in the top-flight, enough to prove that he definitely has the quality to thrive in the Premier League.

Vardy finished the campaign with 5 goals and 8 assists, as the Foxes finished 14th and managed to beat the drop comfortably in the end.

Vardy’s stocks were very much on the rise at the end of the 2013-14 season but even he wouldn’t have anticipated such a dramatic change of fortunes, for him as well as for Leicester in a span of just a single season. In other words, what followed after that simply defied belief.

Pearson’s successor Claudio Ranieri upset the ridiculous 5000-1 odds and guided the Foxes to an unlikely Premier League title triumph in the 2015-16 season, with Vardy scoring 24 goals in the campaign.

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Leicester’s abrupt emergence and Vardy’s incredible upturn of form saw him bag the 2016 Barclays Premier League Player of the Season.   

Arsene Wenger was ready to bring him to the Emirates but he rebuffed Arsenal’s approach and signed a new long-term deal with Leicester City, instead.

Vardy continued his scoring form in the Premier League in the following season and also found the net twice in the UEFA Champions League, as the Foxes made it all the way to the quarterfinals. 

Vardy hasn’t been able to replicate his feat of scoring 24 goals in the Premier League until now but goals have continued to flow for him at an impressive strike rate, nonetheless.

The 32-year-old has racked up a staggering 80 goals and 29 assists in 176 Premier League appearances, numbers which are quite eye-watering for any footballer playing in such a highly competitive league.

Conclusion

It is difficult to find the proper set of adjectives to describe Vardy’s sensational rise in English football from being a non-league star to a Premier League icon.

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It certainly doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that he has by far been one of the most consistent strikers in the Premier League over the past few years and it would be harsh to take any credit away from him.

Vardy’s hardworking nature, lightning pace, instant acceleration, his ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender and time his run to perfection, and clinical finishing, have troubled even the best of defences in the top-flight.

Still only 32, he definitely has a lot to offer as far as Leicester are concerned, and even if he hangs up his boots right now, the story of his rise is likely to inspire footballers for generations to come.

Vardy’s meteoric rise in English football is like a ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel for all non-league footballers who dream of playing in the Premier League some day.

The Leicester man rose to prominence by his sheer dint of merit and hard work, which should be a lesson for all non-league footballers that opportunities are there if you keep working hard.

Working hard and working smart are completely different things but Vardy has shown the ability to combine both in order to produce the desired results.

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5 of the biggest upsets in the 2018/19 season of the Premier League

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2018-19 Premier League rewind: A look back at the 5 of the biggest upsets

There was hardly any shortage of drama, excitement and hype in the 2018-19 season of the Premier League, with some mesmerizing individual performances, sheer moments of magic, edge-of-the-seat thrillers and a see-saw title race producing yet another enthralling season of football.

As a matter of fact, it was goals galore all throughout the campaign, as the grand total of 1072 goals made the 2018-19 season the most prolific ever in the history of the Premier League.

In the end, Man City successfully managed to defend their Premier League title, as Pep Guardiola’s side broke Liverpool’s hearts and ensured that the Reds’ pursuit of a first domestic title since 1990 ultimately ended in failure.

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The final day of the campaign ended in ecstasy for the fans at Etihad, while those at Anfield would have felt the pain of falling short by a solitary point despite a valiant effort from their team.

We all know that the Premier League is famous for producing plenty of thrills and spills, which is probably the reason why it is widely acclaimed as the most competitive league in the world.

When we speak about competition, it is expected that the league would also have a touch of unpredictability to it.

The 2018/19 season, indeed, produced some massive upsets, where the lesser teams defied the odds and took everybody by surprise to shock the heavyweights operating in the upper reaches of the competition.

Surprisingly, winners Man City were also at the receiving end of three such upsets; one each at the hands of Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Newcastle United.

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It is true that we have a definitive top-six in the Premier League these days but we witnessed last season that the mid-table teams and even the relegation-threatened sides are more than capable of pulling off surprises on their day. With that in mind, let us revisit those instances when teams defied belief to register the unlikeliest of victories.

1. Leicester City vs Man City- Boxing Day

Leicester City were enduring a rather inconsistent campaign under Claude Puel but the Foxes came into the game high on confidence following a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in their previous outing.

Man City, on the other hand, arrived at the King Power Stadium on the back of a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at home, although Pep Guardiola’s side were the outright favourites to claim all three points against Leicester.

Unsurprisingly, Leicester defended in numbers and got bodies behind the ball as Man City stamped their authority in the opening quarter of the game.

It didn’t take long for them to open the scoring though, as Sergio Aguero played Bernardo Silva behind the Foxes’ backline to set up the Portuguese for an easy finish.

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However, Leicester responded within just four minutes, as Jamie Vardy’s cross found the run of Marcus Albrighton, who outsmarted Fabian Delph with his clever movement and beat Ederson to score the equaliser. Well, you cannot keep Jamie Vardy out of the action, can you? 

Aguero lost his footing numerous times in the final third quite uncharacteristically and Man City failed to score the winner despite enjoying a lot of possession. James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury called Ederson into action a few times but the scores stayed level until the very end.

Some late drama saw Ricardo Pereira fire home a pile driver from just inside the edge of the box to hand Leicester a 2-1 advantage before Man City’s Fabian Delph received the marching orders from the referee.

The game was an eye-opener to all the fans who would have thought that Man City’s loss against Palace was a mere bad day at the office.

2. Man City vs Crystal Palace – 22nd December

Man City had only lost a single game in the Premier League season, which was against Chelsea, when they played host to Crystal Palace at the Etihad on 22nd December and with Roy Hodgson’s side struggling in the lower reaches of the table, the Citizens were the clear favourites.

Pep Guardiola’s side kept Palace under the cosh in the opening stages of the game and Fabian Delph’s cross was headed in by Ilkay Gundogan, who gave City the lead in the 27th minute.

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Palace, however, found an instant reply as Wilfried Zaha’s dazzling run followed by McArthur’s clever pass allowed Jeffrey Schlupp to equalise with a clinical finish.

The match turned out to be closer than expected and a moment of sheer brilliance from Andros Townsend turned the game in Palace’s favour. The former Spurs man put his magical left foot through the ball from a long way outside the box but his thunderous effort evaded the fingertips of Ederson, thus putting Palace 2-1 up before half-time.

Townsend hit the post early in the second half and Max Meyer, in an attempt to score from the rebound, was brought down inside the box by a reckless challenge from Kyle Walker, prompting referee Andre Marriner to point to the penalty spot. Luka Milivojevic buried the penalty kick to give Palace an unlikely 3-1 lead.

De Bruyne made it 3-2 with a cross that luckily sailed over the head of Guaita and Leroy Sane hit the post later on but the Eagles did enough to hold on to their lead for a famous win.

3. Wolves vs Chelsea – 6th December

Premier League newcomers Wolves impressed one and all with their character and resilience but as a matter of fact, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were going through a patchy period when they played host to Chelsea on 6th December.

Wolves came into the game on the back of miserable defeats at the hands of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, and the Black Country outfit were under pressure to justify that their flying start to the campaign wasn’t a mere flash in the pan.

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Things didn’t go according to plan for Wolves though, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s powerful effort from 25 yards was headed into his own net by home captain Conor Coady just 18 minutes into the game.

Both teams failed to produce anything spectacular in the first half but Chelsea went into the interval with a 1-0 lead.

However, Wolves staged a remarkable comeback following the restart, as two quick goals from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez in the space of just four minutes proved to be the turning point in the clash.

Wolves ultimately won the game 2-1 and Nuno Santo’s lion-hearted warriors went on to register impressive victories over the likes of Man United, Spurs and Liverpool thereafter. 

4. Newcastle United vs Man City – 31st January

Pep Guardiola sat in the dugout for his 100th Premier League game, as Newcastle United played host to defending champions Man City towards the end of January.

With Man City and Liverpool going hammer and tongs at each other in a bid to get the upper hand in the title race, this was always going to be a must-win game for the Citizens and they were the definitely the strong favourites against Rafael Benitez’s unit.

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And it looked like the travelling fans were in for an absolute feast when Sergio Aguero put the visitors 1-0 ahead just 24 seconds into the game. City dictated the play in the first half and they could have had the second goal just at the stroke of the interval, only for David Silva’s attempt to be blocked by Florian Lejeune.

Man City upped the ante after the restart and Martin Dubravka was called into action numerous times early in the second half, as Sterling, Sane and David Silva all had attempts on goal.

However, in a twist of fate, Newcastle made City pay for their missed chances and equalised in the 66th minute. Salomon Rondon got in front of John Stones and volleyed it straight into the net after a bit of a scramble in the final third.

City went all out in pursuit of the winner but it was Newcastle who had the last laugh and pulled off a massive upset.

Fernandinho’s challenge on Sean Longstaff was deemed worthy of a penalty and Matt Ritchie stepped up to send Ederson the wrong way, thus making it 2-1 with just 10 minutes left to play. The 2-1 victory meant that Newcastle registered their first victory over Man City in the Premier League since 2005.

5. Man United vs Cardiff City – 12th May

Man United thrashed Cardiff City 5-1 in December in what was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge as the caretaker manager of the Red Devils. However, the tides turned dramatically when an already-relegated Cardiff City travelled to Old Trafford to take on United in the final game of the campaign.

Marcus Rashford missed a couple of promising chances and Neil Warnock’s side drew first blood. Diogo Dalot’s rather tame looking challenge on Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was deemed worthy of a penalty by referee Jonathan Moss for some unknown reason and Mendez-Laing stepped up to make it 1-0 from the spot.

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United continued to miss chances and Mason Greenwood saw his shot get tipped on to the post by Neil Etheridge.

Things turned from bad to worse in the second half for United when Josh Murphy picked out Mendez-Laing’s run at the far post with an accurate cross following a dazzling run, and Cardiff took a 2-0 lead.

It didn’t turn out to be a happy outing for Solskjer against his old club, although the Bluebirds ended their campaign on a high. Cardiff City registered their first victory over Man United since 1960 and first at Old Trafford since 1954.

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