Sunderland 2:1 Leicester City
City’s place in the relegation dogfight was firmly booked after a 2-1 defeat at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Saturday…
Claudio Ranieri made one change to his side for this trip to the north-east, with Slimani replacing Okazaki up front.
City suffered a shaky start and Watmore forced a save from Zieler in the first minute. Sunderland continued to press forward and Morgan had to block an Anichebe effort from close range.
Anichebe then set up Defoe, but the prolific striker couldn’t convert the chance, when well placed.
City eventually got a foothold in the game and Mahrez tried to move things forward. He earned a corner from a deflected shot, which Albrighton delivered into a dangerous area, but Vardy did not get enough on his header and it fell a yard wide.
Vardy then sent another header off target, trying to loop the ball over the advancing Pickford, after a decent cross from Fuchs.
City ended the half on top, with Pickford parrying an Albrighton shot, and a cross-cum-shot from Fuchs hitting the top of the crossbar.
City had the first chance of the second half when Slimani’s close range shot was blocked by Djilobodji, but it was the Black Cats who took a 64th minute lead.
Kirchhoff got his head to a Larsson corner from the right, but it was heading wide before it hit Huth on the arm and was diverted into the net.
Sunderland went further ahead 13 minutes later, Anichebe set up Watmore for a shot which was blocked by Huth, but Defoe seized on the loose ball, finding the bottom right hand corner with his first time effort.
City desperately attempted to get back in the game and gained a foothold with ten minutes to go when two substitutes combined to get City on the scoresheet.
Gray beat Jones down the left and slid a low cross to the near post where Okazaki produced a clever finishing touch to claw City back into the game.
This was a bruising encounter by now, Huth wearing a bandage on his head, Simpson limping heavily after turning his ankle, and Watmore stretchered off with a knee injury after a ball-winning challenge from Fuchs.
City’s chance to draw level came deep into 6 minutes of time added on, as the defence and then even Zieler, piled forward.
In a frantic scramble with 22 players around the Sunderland box, Simpson had a shot blocked, the ball fell for Morgan eight yards out but Pickford stuck out a hand to save his shot, and then Morgan sent the rebound wide.
The final whistle signalled yet another defeat for City on their travels, with the feeling that this is going to be a long, hard winter.
Claudio Ranieri summed up: “We did our best today, but it wasn’t enough. We have to keep working hard in training and trust the bad moment will turn. From the own goal you can see the luck is not with us – but we have to stay compact, stay together and react strongly.”
Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Koné, Van Aanholt, Djilobodji, Ndong, Denayer (Kirchhoff 45), Pienaar (Larsson 45), Watmore (Manquillo 85), Defoe, Anichebe. Subs Not Used: Januzaj, O’Shea, Mannone, Khazri.
Leicester: Zieler, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez (Musa 73), Amartey, King, Albrighton (Gray 73), Slimani (Okazaki 68), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hernandez, Hamer, Schlupp, Mendy.
Referee: A. Marriner. Attendance: 39,725.
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