Leicester City 4:2 Sunderland
City topped the opening day Premier League table after Claudio Ranieri’s reign got off to a winning start at the KPS on Saturday…
Ranieri opted for a 4-4-2 with Okazaki making his debut, and new boys Fuchs, Benalouane and Kanté all starting on the bench.
Although Sunderland had an early chance when Kaboul tested Schmeichel with a header before Coates’ nodded the rebound straight into the hands of the City keeper, it was the home side that took the lead in the 11th minute.
Albrighton’s ball from the left wing was helped on by a deft touch from Vardy, that sent it beyond the reach of Pantilimon and into the net.
The busy Okazaki then hurried a chance after Vardy set him up, and another Vardy cross to the near post was fluffed by King after his darting run had put him in a great position. But City were soon two goals up.
Another fine Albrighton cross from the left saw another glancing header, this time from Mahrez in the 18th minute as the dream start continued,
And it got even better with City going 3-0 up by the 24th minute. Mahrez’s dazzling footwork tempted Cattermole into a clumsy challenge for an obvious penalty which Mahrez himself stroked confidently home.
After this manic start, which saw City taking up where they left off last season with their high temp game, things calmed down a little.
Schlupp sent a header over; a superb passing move upfield ended with Mahrez firing over, and then Drinkwater tested Pantilimon with a long range effort but City couldn’t add to the scoreline before the break.
The second half saw City on the attack again… Vardy beating Jones down the left, cut inside and then tried a delicate finish which beat the far post by inches.
Mahrez was enjoying himself down the right, teasing the Sunderland defence before curling an effort that hit the far post. Soon after this Mahrez chased a superb ball from Drinkwater down the right but Pantilimon narrowed the angle well to block his shot.
Pantilimon then saved an overhead Vardy effort as City chased a fourth goal, but it was Sunderland who found the net.
Defoe’s well-timed run saw him spring the offside trap before beating Schmeichel from close-in and the away corner finally had something to shout about.
But City restored their three-goal lead five minutes later. Sunderland couldn’t clear their lines properly after a scramble in the box and Schlupp fed Albrighton whose low shot on the turn arrowed into the bottom left hand corner.
Sunderland pulled another one back in the 71st minute when Lens beat Schmeichel to a loose ball and sent a looping cross over for Fletcher who rose above Huth to nod home.
Fletcher’s handshake with Morgan after the goal may have been because Morgan had wrestled him over in the area previously with the ref seeing no offence.
Pantilimon was also very lucky to stay on the field when he came out to meet a ball that Vardy was chasing and he handled three yards out of the area.
City’s lead was never in any danger however. Okazaki almost got the goal his superb performance had earned but Kaboul blocked, and the final whistle brought a huge roar from the biggest attendance the stadium had seen for a City match.
It had been a fantastic performance, City still had their attacking verve of last season and it was a hugely encouraging start to the new campaign.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet (Benalouane 75), Huth, Morgan, Schlupp, Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Mahrez (Fuchs 77), Okazaki, Vardy (Kanté 82). Subs Not Used: Hammond, Kramarić, Ulloa, Schwarzer.
Sunderland: Pantilimon, Jones (Matthews 54), Van Aanholt, Cattermole (Fletcher 30), Larsson, Rodwell, Johnson, Kaboul, Lens, Defoe, Coates. Subs Not Used: Bridcutt, O’Shea, Graham, Giaccherini, Mannone.
Referee: Lee Mason. Attendance: 32,242 (3,246 away).
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