The second half was a more cagey affair with Leicester content with a point while United were wary of allowing the game to get too stretched.
Schmeichel, who grew up watching his dad perform heroics at Old Trafford, had to be on his toes though. Most of the saves – two from Rooney and one from Jesse Lingard – were routine but his swift reaction in added time to race off his line to deny Memphis Depay and then Rooney was vital.
By then Drinkwater already cautioned for pulling back Marcus Rashford – had been dismissed for a similar offence that sent sub Depay tumbling into the area. Referee Oliver decided the offence was committed outside the area and waved away United appeals for a penalty.
The champagne remains on ice as does Ranieiri’s hope for movie-style ending to the season. But it is tantalisingly close now.
MAN UTD (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Valencia 8, Smalling 7, Blind 7, Rojo 6; Carrick 7, Fellaini 7; Lingard 5 (Mata 61, 6), Rooney 7, Martial 7; Rashford 5 (Memphis 82, 5).
NEXT UP: Norwich PL (a) Saturday.
LEICESTER (4-4-2): Schmeichel 7; Simpson 6, Morgan 8, Huth 7, Fuchs 7; Mahrez 6 (King 88), Kanté 6, Drinkwater 7, Schlupp 6 (Albrighton 77, 5); Okazaki 5 (Gray 67, 5), Ulloa 5.
NEXT UP: Everton PL (h) Saturday.
Referee: M. Oliver (Northumberland).