Leicester City 2:3 Liverpool
Jamie Vardy’s predictable penalty cost City a point at home to Liverpool on Saturday evening…
Round 2 of this week’s Leicester v Liverpool double header saw both sides making a few alterations, but Craig Shakepeare’s only change from the last Premier League game was the reintroduction of Okazaki to the starting line-up.
Despite Liverpool dominating the early possession it was City who had the first chance in the 6th minute. Okazaki sent Vardy in down the left and his angled drive was saved by Mignolet. The loose ball sat up for Mahrez who lifted it over the bar from close in.
Liverpool should have gone ahead in the 13th minute when a low 25 yarder from Can thumped the left hand post. The rebound went straight to Salah who jabbed it wide with Schmeichel still recovering from his dive.
Salah soon made amends, however, as Liverpool took the lead on the quarter hour.
Coutinho delivered a fine cross from the right, which Salah nodded past Schmeichel at the far post from an acute angle.
The game had a physical edge now, with Ndidi and Albrighton getting booked, but Liverpool players avoiding a yellow card for similar fouls.
City’s afternoon then got worse as Liverpool doubled their lead in the 23rd minute, Coutinho curling a superb free-kick over the wall and just inside the left hand post.
Liverpool sat back on their two goal lead for a while, though City were struggling to do much with their possession. A low cross from Chilwell was smothered by Mignolet.
City then had the ball in the net in the 40th minute, but the offside flag was already raised before Okazaki timed his run perfectly to outstrip the Reds defence from a free kick.
City did, however, manage to halve the visitors lead three minutes into time added on.
Albrighton delivered a corner from the left, Mignolet missed his punch in a big aerial duel six yards out and Okazaki was in the right place to toe poke the ball over the line.
Liverpool protests about a foul in the general melee were waved away.
Liverpool had the better start to the second half and racked up a few chances. Coutinho volleyed straight at Schmeichel, Lovren headed wide from a corner, Can headed over from close in and then Firmino fired a shot well over.
Craig Shakespeare made his first change in the 62nd minute, bringing Gray on for Mahrez.
City were enjoying a decent attacking spell when they were caught on the break in the 67th minute. Maguire was striding forward and played a one-two with Ndidi, but the return ball was heavy and possession was lost. Coutinho, Sturridge and Henderson raced forward and the latter was set up up for a neat finish past Schmeichel to restore Liverpool’s two goal lead.
But City struck back just two minutes later. Albrighton beat Gomez down the left and delievered a far post cross to Gray, who fired in a shot that Mignolet did well to save. The ball went straight to Vardy who directed his header into the unguarded goal.
City had their tails up now, and three minutes later they had a golden chance to equalise. Vardy raced into the penalty area and was flattened by Mignolet. Though he got a touch on the ball it was a clumsy challenge and the ref pointed to the spot.
Regardless of the fact that word may have got round, Vardy opted for his usual blast down the middle, and Mignolet had done his homework, staying on his feet to block just to his right.
Moments after this penalty miss there was another big shout when Can handled in the area, but City were denied a second attempt.
Shakespeare then brought Iheanacho on for Okazaki.
Sturridge went close with a couple of shots before Shakespeare brought on another striker, Slimani for Albrighton.
This new line-up didn’t really work and Liverpool managed to close the game out in relative comfort.
It had been a highly entertaining encounter, but left City with a very poor return of 4 points from the first six games.
Craig Shakespeare commented: “Ultimately because we were searching for that second goal it cost us. We left ourselves too open. The third goal was always going to be hard to come back from. But, try we did and we could’ve got a point in the end. You have to realise that you’re playing against some quality opposition. The aim at the start was to play with the high intensity. We all know in football that games will ebb and flow.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez (Gray 61), Ndidi, King, Albrighton (Slimani 80),Okazaki (Iheanacho 74) Vardy. Substitutes: Hamer, Amartey, Iborra, Fuchs.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno, Can (Milner), Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino (Sturridge 64), Coutinho (Oxlade-Chamberlain 79). Substitutes: Karius, Klavan, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.
Referee: A Taylor.
ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.
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