Leicester City 1:0 Southampton
Wes Morgan’s first goal of the season was enough to settle a close encounter with Southampton at the KPS on Sunday…
Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged side for this game in front of another sell-out crowd enjoying beer and doughnuts on owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, to celebrate his birthday.
City, attacking the Kop end in a rare switch round, got off to a strong start. Fuchs sent in a header wide of the target; Fonte blocked Okazaki’s attempted ‘England Vardy’ flick at the near post; and Soares got in the way of Morgan’s shot following a corner.
The Saints then began to get a grip of proceedings and forced City onto the back foot for a spell.
Soares’s cross from the right flank found Pelle’s head, but his effort went inches over the bar.
Pelle then sent Mane clear on goal with a ball down the middle. As the Saints striker rounded Schmeichel, Simpson’s unrelenting pursuit paid dividends as he blocked the shot with an unintentional elbow.
Fonte forced a fine save soon after with a shot that was heading for the top right hand corner until the Danish keeper clawed it away.
Clasie shot from long range, which flew a yard over the bar, proved to be the end of the visitor’s period of dominance, as City took a 38th minute lead.
Kanté, Drinkwater and Fuchs combined on the left and the Austrian swung a cross into the area that Morgan rose to head in off the left hand post, giving Forster no chance.
It was the captain’s first goal of the season and it had the KPS rocking on its hinges.
The final chance of the half fell to Albrighton, but his shot struck Vardy and City had to be content with a 1-0 lead at the break.
Wanyama was lucky not to see red in the first incident of the second half when Vardy looked to break through on goal but was hauled down by the Saints midfielder, who was only booked.
Fonte was the next Southampton player to look relieved when his attempted clearance went horribly wrong and was heading for the top left hand corner before Forster scrambled back to tip it over.
Bertrand capped a good run down the left with a shot into the side netting, before Forster came to the Saints rescue again. An excellent backheel on the left sent Vardy in behind the defence. He picked out Simpson arriving at the far post, but the full-back’s shot was placed too close to Forster, allowing him to make a fine block.
There were shouts for a penalty when newly introduced sub Austin saw his cross handled by Huth, but it was hard to see how he could avoid contact from a yard away.
A couple of shots from range saw Mahrez failing to test Forster while Drinkwater’s effort was off target.
Ulloa, on for Okazaki, then delayed his shot after being well set up by the marauding Kanté and his threat was snuffed out.
As the game entered the last ten minutes, City became less intent on finding a second goal and began to concentrate on possession.
Subs Gray and Ulloa proved to be good at this, killing the game off in the corner and denying the Saints a chance to build up any attacking momentum.
The last chance fell to Vardy, who had lived off scraps throughout the game, but Forster denied him with an outstretched leg to cap a fine afternoon between the posts.
As the game entered the 5th minute of time added on Southampton were awarded a free kick from a dangerous position on the right, but it was dealt with by City’s defence in the same way as everything else. It was a day when the defence took the plaudits, as City battled to their fourth 1-0 in a row.
The final whistle finally broke the tension and saw City seven points clear of Tottenham with six games remaining.
Despite some joyous scenes at the end, Claudio Ranieri continued to keep expectations on a lead: “It was important to win because it’s a good answer to the Premier League. Now everybody was waiting for us after the draw between Tottenham and Liverpool and we gave a very good answer. We believe in what we are doing. We believe it’s a magical season and we believe next season it will not be the same. We try to do our best and if another team is better than us, we have to fight.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (Dyer 90), Mahrez (Gray 79), Okazaki (Ulloa 63) Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Amartey, Wasilewski, King.
Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Targett (Tadic 46), Fonte, Van Dijk, Soares, Davis (Ward-Prowse 72), Clasie (Austin 72), Wanyama, Mane, Pelle. Subs Not Used: Stekelenburg, Yoshida, Romeu, Rodriguez.
Referee: M Oliver Attendance: 32,071.
ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
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