Aston Villa 1:1 Leicester City
City returned to the top of the Premier League on Saturday evening, despite letting a battling Villa off the hook in a 1-1 draw at Villa Park…
Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged side for the short trip to Birmingham, and found a Villa side desperate to build on their second win of the season against Palace in the week.
After a cautious start to the game City began to get into their stride, and Vardy headed an Albrighton free-kick narrowly wide.
Soon after this the England striker was sent down the left by an Albrighton nod-on from a goal kick, but he was brought crashing down by Bunn, who had come racing out of his goal. Only the proximity of some defenders saved him from a red card.
Villa were then presented with their first chance when an under-hit Huth back-pass saw Kozak in on goal, but Schmeichel got down well to save at his near post and spare his centre-half’s blushes.
City went ahead in the 28th minute. Vardy drifted through the Villa back-line to reach a huge Schmeichel goal-kick and his first time lob over Bunn saw the Villa keeper back-pedalling to claw the ball out. Okazaki had followed up and struck the keeper with his shot, but he was a yard behind the goal-line and City were in the lead.
City had the chance to go further ahead soon after. Okazaki looked to have been brought down just inside the penalty area but play continued and Vardy cut the ball back from the left. Mahrez met it at the far post but Cissokho blocked it with a raised hand and the ref pointed to the spot. Mahrez’s spot-kick was neither hit well, or placed well, allowing Bunn an fairly easy save down the middle, and a chance to shatter Villa’s fragile confidence was missed.
The second half began with a shot at each end: Schmeichel punching a Cissokho effort away and, Bunn tipping a curling 20 yarder from Drinkwater over the bar.
Ranieri made a change on the hour to try and counter Villa’s growing threat, with De Laet coming on for Okazaki.
Villa then had big claims for a penalty turned down when Huth threw an arm across Kozak’s face as the two contested a high ball.
Despite Villa doing the pressing, City looked dangerous on the break. Drinkwater sent Vardy through to round Bunn, but his touch took him too far for a shot, and his ball across goal was directed wide by a Drinkwater’s flicked effort.
Gestede was brought on for Villa and it was the substitute who would earn them a point, with a goal fifteen minutes before the end. He miscontrolled a ball from Bacuna, an dit jumped up and hit him on the hand, but he was allowed to turn and fire home a shot, via Morgan’s arm.
After the customary mass-flare-up between these two sides Bacuna and Vardy were booked.
City’s best chance of a winner fell to Vardy when he got in down the left, but he sent his shot, from a narrow angle, flying over the bar.
It was a strange feeling to be slightly disappointed while going top of the Premier League, but City had the chance to finish Villa off in the first half and didn’t take it.
Claudio Ranieri expressed some rare disappointment: “It is two points lost, We started very well, scored a goal but after we miss the penalty the Aston Villa players took a new energy. We must close the match and score a second goal.”
Villa: Bunn, Bacuna, Okore, Lescott, Cissokho, Gana, Westwood, Veretout, Gil (Gestede 67), Ayew (Sinclair 90), Kozak. Subs Not Used: Guzan, Richards, Clark Richardson, Lyden.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Fuchs, Morgan, Huth, Simpson, Mahrez (Ulloa 69), Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (Gray 85), Okazaki (De Laet 60), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, King, Inler.
Referee: R East. Attendance: 32,763.
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