Leicester City 4:1 Barnsley
Sven Goran Eriksson celebrated his 63rd birthday at the Walkers with a blinding performance from his City side, a 4-1 win over Barnsley being notable for the quantity and quality of the goals…
Sven made one change to the side that won at Barnsley with Gallagher taking Dyer’s place.
The windy conditions made for a scrappy start, though City threatened on several occasions. Gallagher sent a free-kick over the bar; Yakubu almost broke through on his own before being halted by a Shackell challenge; and King sent a header wide.
City then took a 15th minute lead when Gallagher was allowed too much room to tee up a shot from 25 yards, it flew past Steele into the top left hand corner.
The lead was nearly extended soon afterwards when Steele saved a fierce Wellens effort and then Van Aarnholt sent a free-kick crashing against the crossbar.
Although Barnsley had a good spell for a while City made it 2-0 as half time approached.
Set up by a Vassell backheel King beat one defender and then shot against the legs of another. The ball came back to him and his exquisite 9 iron chip left Steele a bystander as it sailed over the Tykes’ keeper and into the net.
But Barnsley were not in the mood to roll over and die, and had the ball in Weale’s net almost instantly, though their celebrations were halted by a linesman’s flag.
Soon after that scare, some great work by Chelsea-loanee Mellis on the edge of his area saw him side-step the City defence before curling a shot beyond Weale’s reach.
Incredibly Barnsley almost equalised just before the break when Nouble broke clear and rounded Weale, but saw his low shot blocked by Naughton who made up the ground with his pace.
Half time entertainment in the form of the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders kept the crowd, somewhat on the sparse side, happy. Well done Birch.
The second half saw City regain control of the game. Steele did well to save a Gallagher effort but City would not be denied for long. The visitors were caught on the break and King charged forward fifty yards before planting a perfect finish low to Steele’s left.
City were looking comfortable now and Sven brought Dyer and Oakley on for Vassell and Abe. Steele had to produce a series of spectacular saves to keep out long range efforts from Gallagher and Wellens; while at the other end Weale had to be off his line sharply to deny Mellis.
Steele continued to keep City at bay, pulling off a great save from Oakley, but he was eventually beaten by a piece of magic in the 89th minute.
Naughton, out on the right, latched onto a half clearance and fired a 30 yard rocket into the top left hand corner to seal a fine victory.
The birthday boy was content: “We didn’t play our best football in the first half but in the second half we got better and the four goals means I am very happy. All the goals were beautiful and the last one by Kyle Naughton, he has a good shot, but that was incredible.”
While the Barnsley boss Mark Robins dubbed City: “…the best side in the division”.
As City relentlessly close in on the play-off places, it is beginning to look as though he is right…
Leicester: Weale, Bamba (Hobbs 82), Naughton, Mee, Van Aanholt, King , Abe (Dyer 62), Wellens, Yakubu, Gallagher, Vassell (Oakley 62). Subs Not Used: Berner, Waghorn, Howard, Ricardo.
Barnsley: Steele, Shackell, Hassell, Hill, Trippier, Doyle, Mellis (Noble-Lazarus 83), Arismendi (Colace 66), Haynes, Nouble, O’Connor (Butterfield 74). Subs Not Used: Gray, Lovre, O’Brien, Preece.
Referee:K Hill (Herts). Attendance: 22,667.