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Leicester finally switch on to humble Liverpool

Leicester City 3:1 Liverpool

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Craig Shakespeare’s first game in charge of Leicester saw an emphatic 3:1 win over Liverpool at the KPS on Monday night…

The caretaker boss, who may well have staked a permanent claim to the job, sent out last season’s first choice side, with Ndidi in the Kante role, and also seemed to have summoned last season’s spirit.
Right from the start of the game, City looked like a completely different side to the one that had struggled through this Premier League campaign.
Vardy was haring around the turf and hurt Mane with a tasty challenge in the first minute. City pressed forward and Huth connected with an Albrighton throw, giving Mignolet a comfortable save.
The Liverpool keeper was more stretched by the next effot when Okazaki got his head to a mishit Vardy shot.
Liverpool’s first attack came in the 10th minute when Mane sent in a dangerous low cross from the right, but Ndidi extended a long leg to intercept.
City soon threatened again when Huth should have done better with a header from an Albrighton corner, but sent it well over.
Another chance arrived for City in the 20th minute when Vardy turned Lucas with a flick, but mistimed his connection as the ball dropped allowing Mignolet to block.
Huth blocked a fierce Coutinho effort as Liverpool came more into the game, but then City took a vital 28th minute lead with a goal that conjured up memories of last season.
A defence-splitting pass from Albrighton sent Vardy in down the right and he raced clear and fired home City’s first league goal of 2017 giving Mignolet no chance.

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Although this raised the KPS roof, Liverpool almost struck back straight away when Coutinho went clear of City’s defence down the left, but Schmeichel came racing out to block his shot.
City were soon on the attack again, Mahrez sent Vardy into the box but his clever back-heel was sidefooted over the bar by Ndidi.
City didn’t have to wait long for their second goal, however, and it was truly spectacular when it arrived in the 38th minute.
From a half-cleared corner, Albrighton sent a cross into the goalmouth and when Milner headed it clear it presented itself to Drinkwater on the edge of the area. He crashed home a perfect half-volley into the bottom right hand corner and the KPS went nuts again.
City took their 2-0 lead in with them at the break, with the crowd as well as the players needing to get their breath back.

Despite the two goal cushion, nerves were still jangling as Liverpool dictated play in the first period of the second half. This was a passage of play on which City’s whole season could hinge. Liverpool’s passing game was clicking into gear and Mane was beginning to look threatening.
But then City struck again to make it 3-0 on the hour.Mahrez and Fuchs combined well down the left and Fuchs dummied  a left foot cross, before delivering a perfect ball into the area with his right. There was Vardy, perfectly placed in the middle to direct a fine header into the bottom right corner to surely seal a fantastic victory.

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Klopp’s side were stung into action now, and City had some defending to do. Lallana went close with one effort , before the visitors narrowed the gap in the 68th minute. Can set up Coutinho, who found himself to space to run into and line up a a precise shot past Schmeichel.
This came soon after a touching ‘phone light’ tribute to Claudio Ranieri around the ground, which struck the right tone.
Shakespeare made his first substition after the goal, bringing on Amartey for Okazaki who had run himself into the ground.
Liverpool set up camp in City’s half again without actually creating many chances, and they were almost caught out on the break when Mignolet arrived in the nick of time as Vardy raced after a long ball forward.
Mahrez then went on a run down the right and into the box before being crowded out: he laid the ball off to Drinkwater who skied his effort when well placed.
Mahrez was then replaced by Gray.
Liverpool upped the pressure as the final whistle approached, but the City defence held firm.
Fuchs came within inches of a fourth goal in time added on, lobbing a long-range effort that had Mignolet backpedalling as it just cleared the bar.

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The final whistle brought emotional scenes. Last season’s Leicester had reappeared.
Perhaps we will never know why. Some fans had a strange mixture of elation and anger, thinking that the players had stitched Ranieri up by under-performing for most of the season. Others pointed to subtle changes like Ndidi playing a more defensive role and Drinkwater in a more effective forward position making the difference.
Perhaps it didn’t really matter. What mattered was that Leicester were back and looked much better equipped for the battle against relegation.

Craig Shakespeare, who may well be in charge for the remainder of the season and possibly longer, observed: “I think some of it is human nature when people criticise you there is bound to be a reaction. I know the criticism has hurt and perhaps there was a little more fire in the belly because of that. They know they are guilty of underperforming – but this is only one result and we must build on that.”

 

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Gray 80), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton (Chilwell 90), Okazaki (Amartey 69), Vardy. Subs Not Used: King, Slimani, Zieler, Ulloa.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lucas (Woodburn 84), Milner, Lallana (Origi 66), Can, Wijnaldum, Mane (Moreno 66), Firmino, Coutinho. Subs Not Used: Karius, Klavan, Stewart, Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 32,034. 

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Vardy Double Sees off Liverpool

Leicester City 2:0 Liverpool

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Two goals from Jamie Vardy, one of them a contender for Goal of the Season, saw City beat Liverpool 2-0 at the KPS on Tuesday evening…

Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged line-up for the visit of Jürgen Klopp’s side as City once again set out to prove that they are genuine title contenders.
They had the first chance of the game after just two minutes when Mahrez drifted along the 18 yard line before sending in a low curling shot that beat the left hand post by a couple of feet.
Soon after that City threatened again when Vardy charged down the left and crossed for Okazaki, but his downward header from close in was too close to Mignolet who pulled off a fine save diverting the ball onto the crossbar.
At the other end Schmeichel came up with an equally good save from Henderson at point-blank range but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
With Kanté and Drinkwater both performing superbly in City’s engine room, the chances kept coming. Huth nodded over from a Fuchs’ corner and then a beautiful effort from Mahrez was heading for the top left hand corner when Mignolet clawed it away at full-stretch.
The teams went in goalless at the break in a finely balanced game where both sides looked dangerous on the break, with Liverpool finding some space on the flanks.

The visitors had the better start to the second half. Drinkwater blocked a Can effort and then Schmeichel was alert enough to parry a Moreno cross that suddenly threatened the goal. Firmino then fired in a shot that sailed into the Family Stand.

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On the hour an unforgettable moment of magic broke the deadlock and lit up the evening.
Mahrez sent a fine ball down the right and Vardy let it bounce once before launching an outrageous half-volley over Mignolet and into the top right hand corner.
It had the crowd stunned and open-mouthed as he marched into the corner to soak up the acclaim.
Liverpool were rocked by this bolt from the blue and soon found themselves two goals down. After an incredible eleven-pass move involving Simpson, Vardy, Kanté, Drinkwater and Okazaki the Japanese international was brought down in the box.
Instead of complaining to referee Andre Marriner, City kept pressing and an Okazaki shot was deflected towards Vardy who nipped ahead of Lovren and lifted the ball over the advancing Mignolet to find the net for the 18th time this season.
There was no way back for the Reds and King, Gray and Ulloa were all introduced into the action in the remaining ten minutes as City saw the game out with another clean sheet.

City ended the evening three points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Claudio Ranieri was full of praise for the man about to sign a new contract at Leicester: “It was an unbelievable pass from Mahrez and unbelievable what Vardy did. He watched the ball arriving, watched the opponent and watched the keeper. He looked at the keeper out of the goal and hit it. It was unbelievable, amazing, fantastic. That goal opened the match.” 

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Mahrez (Ulloa 90), Albrighton (Gray 79), Okazaki (King 87), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Dyer, Wasilewski, Chilwell.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Can (Allen 75), Henderson (Benteke 66), Lucas, Lallana, Milner, Firmino (Teixeira 87). Subs Not Used: Ward, Toure, Ibe, Flanagan.

Referee: A Marriner. Attendance: 32,121.

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