Middlesbrough 1:2 Leicester City
City got the 2013-14 season off to a winning start, coming from behind to win 2-1 with goals from Drinkwater and Vardy in a transformed second half…
The main talking point before the game was the exclusion of Knockaert, not only from the team but the squad.
City started the season with the 3-5-2 formation that had been trialled in pre-season games with Morgan, Whitbread and St Ledger forming the back three. They were to have mixed fortunes.
Vardy partnered Wood up front with Nugent not quite 100% fit.
Boro had the better of the early exchanges in front of a sparse crowd, and then City were forced into a change in the 18th minute. Whitbread suffered a head injury and was stretchered off, replaced by Moore.
It was a poor half for City who showed very little going forward and they went a goal down ten minutes before the break. St Ledger got his second own goal of the week, battling with Jutkiewicz to meet a cross from the left he made contact with the ball and sent it past Schmeichel.
City’s keeper then kept them in the game producing a fine save from Leadbitter in first half injury time.
After a poor opening half City then rewarded their 1,600 travelling supporters with a transformed display after the break.
As City began to create some forward movement here were big calls for a penalty in the 55th minute when Drinkwater was brought down by Whitehead in the area.
He only had five minutes to wait for a goal however, after some pinball on the edge of the area he coolly seized on the loose ball to beat Steele from 20 yards.
In the 67th minute City then delighted their followers, leading a lead that had looked highly unlikely at half time. Nugent, just on for Wood, played Vardy in down the right and although his first touch looked a bit heavy his pace took him ahead of his marker and he clipped the ball over Steele and into the top right hand corner for a fantastic finish.
Boro looked deflated by this and City looked the more likely to add to the score: Nugent forcing a good save from Steele and Vardy firing a shot against the right hand upright.
Nigel Pearson commented: “It’s nice to get off to a winning start, but that’s what it is, it’s a start. The points that you drop in August are just as costly and the ones you drop in April and May.”
A long season lies ahead, but City have got 2013-14 off to the best possible start.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Leadbitter, Woodgate, Varga, Carayol (Haroun 61), Jutkiewicz, Friend, Whitehead, Parnaby (L. Williams 82), R. Williams, Emnes. Subs Not Used: Leutwiler, Hoyte, Ledesma, Gibson, Smallwood.
Leicester: Schmeichel, St Ledger, Morgan, Whitbread (Moore 18), Konchesky, De Laet, James, Drinkwater, King, Vardy, Wood (Nugent 61). Subs Not Used: Marshall, Dyer, Waghorn, Schlupp, Logan.
Referee: Mr. Andrew Madley. Attendance: 17,223.
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