Leicester City 3:1 Derby County aet
City managed a morale boosting victory against Derby in this FA Cup 4th round replay at the KPS on Wednesday night, although the Championship side took the tie to extra time…
Claudio Ranieri made ten changes to his side, and Steve McClaren eight, showing that neither club considered the FA Cup a priority, but they eventually served up a highly entertaining game.
The first half did little to warm an admirably large crowd on a freezing night.
In the early exchanges, Gray crossed for Amartey to nod over the bar, and Anya skinned Wasilewski down the left but his cross was too high for Blackman.
Johnson then put Zieler under pressure from a high ball, but it bounced off the Derby man for a goal kick.
The game settled into a stalemate for a while, with City looking to hit the Rams on the break and Gray sent Musa into the area where he was bundled over by Shackell. There were loud appeals, but it didn’t quite look like a penalty.
City began to get the upper hand towards the break as an unfamiliar line-up got better acquainted. Gray was having a fine game and his low cross from the right following a great run, should have seen Musa sidefoot City ahead from close range, but he was slow to react.
There were more loud calls for a penalty five minutes before the break, when Chelwell was shoved in the back by Keogh, but referee Mike Jones waved play on again.
Derby had the final word in the first half with Butterfield forcing a save from Zieler, but De Sart wasted a good chance from the resulting corner, sending a mis-hit shot spinnng into the Kop Stand.
The deadlock was broken a minute after the break. Gray delivered a superb cross from the left, Albrighton nodded it back from just beyond the far post, and King headed home from point blank range. It was the lift that City needed and was greeted with a huge roar.
Derby were then awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area after a ball-winning challenge on Blackman by the impressive Benalouane, but Camara’s free kick was punched away by Zieler.
Five minutes later the visitors were awarded another free kick in a similar position when Albrighton was judged to have waved his foot too close to Butterfield’s head.
This time Camara’s shot looked to be covered by Zieler, but a big deflection off Chilwell in the wall left the German keeper stranded and the Rams were back in the game, to the delight of their large following.
Both sides were keen to avoid extra time and the action was end to end for a while.
Ranieri brought Mahrez on for Kapustka, who’d had a decent debut, while Nugent was given a good reception by the home crowd when he replaced Blackman.
With six minutes remaining, the ref got another big decision wrong. Musa raced after a ball down the right and Mitchell came out to meet him. Musa got to the ball first but his touch was clearly handled by the Rams keeper outside the area. It should have been a red card, but instead it was Musa who was shown yellow for his outraged reaction.
City were attacking in waves now, and there was another scare for Derby with a minute to go when Musa’s cross from the left was chested against the right hand post by Lowe as he attempted to shepherd the ball out for a corner.
Derby survived City’s late attacking spell, but fell behind four minutes into extra time in spectacular fashion. Mahrez threaded a fine ball through to substitute Ndidi, who strode down the middle before unleashing a 25 yard rocket in off the right hand post for his first goal for the club.
The other 90th minute sub didn’t fare so well soon afterwards, when Gray’s low cross saw Slimani unbalanced and unable to take the tap in that had been presented to him.
Derby were still battling and Russell headed narrowly wide from a Christie cross, but City were controlling the play and seeing plenty of the ball. King forced a good save from Mitchell who tipped his top corner effort round the post.
With 114 minutes on the clock, City finally settled this epic cup tie with a superb goal. Gray cut in from the left flank into the area, and wriggled past Keogh and Vydra before despatching the ball across Mitchell into the top right hand corner.
There was no way back for Derby, and City had a date with Millwall in the fifth round after a night that had lifted the mood around the club.
Claudio Ranieri’s gamble had paid off: “Derby played good football and we won. This is what we needed and I wanted. We want to do well in all competitions. We want to go forward in the FA Cup. The Premier League is not so good but we have to stay in the Premier League. This fresh air is good for the players.”
Leicester: Zieler, Amartey, Wasilewski, Benalouane, Chilwell, Mendy (Ndidi 90), King, Albrighton, Kapustka (Mahrez 81), Gray, Musa (Slimani 90). Subs Not Used: Drinkwater, Hamer, Okazaki, Fuchs.
Derby: Mitchell, Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Lowe, de Sart, Butterfield, Johnson (Vydra 53), Camara (Russell 74), Blackman (Nugent 82), Anya. Subs Not Used: Carson, Ince, Baird, Pearce.
Referee: M Jones. Attendance: 31, 648.
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