Leicester City 2:1 Brighton & Hove Albion
City won their first home game since Boxing Day against Brighton on Tuesday night, as new boss Brendan Rodgers was welcomed to the club.
Rodger’s appearance in the directors box was warmly applauded before the game, but it was Mike Stowell who was picking the team and he made two changes, with Gray in for Ghezzal and Chilwell returning from injury in place of Fuchs.
Under Claude Puel City had got used to conceding early goals, but his time they struck first against a nervy looking Brighton side hovering above the relegation zone.
In the 7th minute a square ball from Maddison saw Vardy’s shot blocked by Duffy, and then Tielemans had a long range effort cleared by Dunk but City, roared on by a newly-buoyant home crowd were not to be denied for long. Barnes robbed Knockaert on the halfway line and fed Tielemans, who made a few yards before threading a ball to Gray, who slotted the opener past Ryan.
Four minutes later City should have gone two up, but Gray’s shot from a Chilwell cut back was saved by Ryan and Vardy put the rebound into the stand.
After this lively start for City they lost their way a little and allowed Brighton back into the game.
In the 27th minute a 20-yarder from Gross looped up over Maguire and was dipping under the bar before Schmeichel tipped it over.
The City keeper was soon in action again, when Bong crossed from the left and Knockaert met the ball with a fierce shot that Schmeichel got a strong right hand to.
Barnes was having a fine game and played a one-two with Tielemans before firing in a shot that was blocked.
City took their narrow lead in at the break, though Brighton were still very much in the game.
City should have doubled their lead early in the second half when Gray delivered a decent cross from the left but Vardy nodded it wide from close in.
A minute later the Seagulls should have been level. Knockaert fed Gross, who back heeled the ball to Murray. The usually composed striker ballooned his effort over the bar from 8 yards.
City continued to struggle through a scrappy second half with Brighton creating more chances. Bissouma curled a 20-yarder inches wide of the right hand post and then Duffy headed wide from a corner.
But the increasing feeling that the visitors would find an equaliser was eased when City doubled their lead in the 63rd minute. Maddison had not had a good night, but finally delivered, playing a perfect through ball to Vardy down the right channel and he lashed the ball past Ryan from a tight angle.
But City didn’t enjoy their two-goal cushion for long. Three minutes later a Knockaert cross deflected into the path of Pröpper, who rifled it past Schmeichel from 12 yards.
Mike Stowell made a change in the 69th minute, with Tielemans coming off for Mendy, as City looked to shore things up in midfield.
Brighton were pressing forward but City threatened on the break and Maddison set up Barnes for a shot that was high and wide. When he can find more composure in front of goal Barnes will be a huge threat.
In the 75th minute Maguire set off on a run that took him from the halfway line to the penalty area, past four defenders, before a nifty stepover and cross found Barnes whose shot was closed down. Maguire earned himself a standing ovation.
Vardy was then lucky to only see a yellow card for a reckless challenge that left Pröpper in a heap.
Bong fired a shot wide and Murray found the side-netting, but City were more in control now and there were no dramas in the closing stages.
Brendan Rodgers will have got an idea of what is wrong and what is right from a patchy performance, but a first home win since Boxing Day was most welcome for the supporters.
Rodger’s first message to the fans was a refreshing change: “I’m very privileged and honoured to be here as Leicester City manager and I’ll give my life to make the supporters proud of their club. Together, we’ll be stronger and I’m looking forward to working with the players, staff and supporters to make the right steps forward.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Tielemans (Mendy 69), Ndidi, Maddison (Okazaki 90), Gray, Vardy (Iheanacho 90), Barnes.
Substitutes: Morgan, Ward, Fuchs, Ghezzal.
Brighton: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Gross (Bissouma 51), Stephens (Izquierdo 81), Pröpper, Knockaert, Murray, March (Locadia 67).
Substitutes: Jahanbakhsh, Button, Bernardo, Burn.
Referee: Lee Probert. Attendance: 30,558.
Photos: Simon Kimber.
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