Leicester restore five point lead with Okazaki acrobatics

Leicester City 1:0 Newcastle United

2015-16 newcastle home c

Shinji Okazaki’s first goal at the KPS earned City a vital three points in a tense and tight encounter with Newcastle on Monday night…

Claudio Ranieri fielded the same side that started at Watford and once again, they carved out a 1-0 victory.
A win for the Magpies in Rafael Benitez’s first game would have lifted them out of the relegation zone  and they started strongly, forcing City back, and Perez and Colback had early attempts on goal.
Sissoko then sent a header wide and with City looking a little below par it was already clear that any victory would be hard earned.
City began to take charge halfway through the first half and Huth headed narrowly over from an Albrighton corner.
The moment of inspiration, on a night of perspiration, arrived in the 25th minute.
Albrighton’s lofted ball from the left found Vardy via a Newcastle head, and he teed up Okazaki who performed a exquisite over-head kick to beat Elliott from seven yards.

2015-16 newcastle home a

City almost doubled their lead moments later when Albrighton charged down the middle and beat a defender before sending a low, swerving shot inches wide of the right hand post.
Vardy then had a shot blocked by Taylor as City ended the half strongly, though the final chance went to Ayoze, who fired his effort straight at Schmeichel.

Fuchs saw his shot deflected wide early in th esecond half, though it was an even contest at this stage with Janmaat being denied by a timely Albrighton challenge and Ayoze having a dangerous effort diverted into the side-netting by Kanté.
Ranieri made his first change in the 65th minute, bringing Schlupp on for Okazaki, which saw Mahrez moved tot he centre. Mahrez soon set up Schlupp, but his effort was blocked by Janmaat.

2015-16 newcastle home b

With 15 minutes left Ulloa came on for Albrighton and did a fine job holding the ball up as Newcastle desperately sought an equaliser. Their best chance came when De Jong wasted a good chance from close in after being teed up by Mitrovic.
At the other end Mahrez had one of his trademark curling efforts blocked by Colback.
As the game entered 3 minutes of time-added-on City went into full kill the game mode and play was restricted to the south east corner-flag for what seemed an eternity.

The final whistle heralded a huge roar of relief around the KPS. It hadn’t been pretty, but City had dug in on an evening when they were a little below-par and found a way to win the game. At this stage of the season, that is all that matters.

Ranieri, as ever, kept his focus on the next task: “There are so many people who are dreaming, but we have to continue to work hard. I want to fight every match. Now our concentration is about Crystal Palace, another difficult match. We will go to battle there.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (Ulloa 75), Mahrez, Okazaki (Schlupp 65), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Amartey, Wasilewski, Gray, Inler.
Newcastle: Elliot, Janmaat, Lascelles, Taylor, Colback, Anita (Townsend 56), Shelvey (Doumbia 87), Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Ayoze (De Jong 70), Mitrovic. Subs Not Used: Darlow, Saivet, Riviere, Sterry.

Referee: C Pawson. Attendance: 31,824.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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