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Schmeichel save sets up Leicester win at Brighton

Brighton & Hove Albion 0:2 Leicester City

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City, Premier League, 31 March 2018

City shrugged off a late penalty award and the dismissal of Wilfred Ndidi to win at the Amex for the first time on Saturday afternoon…

Claude Puel made one change to his starting line-up with Okazaki in for Iheanacho, while the Seagulls couldn’t field the suspended Knockaert or the on-loan Ulloa.
A very poor first half unfolded, with Brighton looking the more threatening.
Locadia sliced an effort when well placed, Izquierdo just failed to reach a cross, and Morgan picked up an early yellow for a foul on Propper.
Ndidi followed his skipper into the ref’s notebook, before Murray fired a shot over the bar.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City, Premier League, 31 March 2018

The first real chance of the game arrived in the 37th minute, when a ball from Locadia sent Murray in on goal down the right channel, but his normally deadly finishing deserted him and he steered the ball wide of the right hand post.
Despite offering very little, City managed to go in at the break on level terms, and things could surely only get better.

Or maybe not. A minute into the second half a Morgan error presented Gross with a long range shooting opportunity which Schmeichel did well to tip over at full stretch.
Maguire then did well to snuff out a run from Izquierdo as City continued to play on the back foot.
Claude Puel made his first change in the 56th minute, bringing Diabaté on for Okazaki but things didn’t improve.
Chilwell, Simpson and Maguire were all booked within a short spell, meaning that the entire defence and defensive midfielder were all on a knife edge.
By the 71st minute Diabaté was beginning to make things happen, and his cross found Vardy in the middle, but his attempted back-heel didn’t work.
But Brighton’s big moment finally arrived in the 76th minute, when Ndidi fouled Izquierdo in the area and Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot.
Murray planted his kick to Schmeichel’s left, but the City keeper guessed right and tipped it round the post for a fine save.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City, Premier League, 31 March 2018

Gray replaced Albrighton soon after this let off, and City began to press forward at last.
They then delighted their 3,000 + followers, taking an 83rd minute lead.
Chilwell lofted a ball in from the left and Iborra found some space in the area to nod it home past Ryan from 10 yards.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City, Premier League, 31 March 2018

With Brighton desperately seeking an equaliser, Ndidi and Duffy contested a 50-50 ball and it looked as though the City man won it with a fair side-footed challenge.
Ndidi threw himself to the ground in a rage when Kavanagh judged it worthy of a second yellow and City had to see out the game with ten men.
Schmeichel saved March’s resulting free-kick, tipping it over the bar.
Brighton then went close from a corner during the 5 minutes of time-added-on, when Bong missed a far post sitter with an eyes shut, head down header, but his blushes were spared as the ref spotted a foul on Schmeichel.
Instead, it was City who added to the scoreline in the dying seconds. Gray beat his marker down the right and his low cross to the far post was met with a perfectly timed run by Vardy, to seal what had looked like a highly unlikely win.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leicester City, Premier League, 31 March 2018

Claude Puel summed up: “The first half was poor, we didn’t come back from the international break. It was difficult, it was slow and we were without tempo, rhythm and aggressiveness. It was a fantastic save from Kasper and it changed the situation of the game. It gave us a good feeling and desire to continue to believe and for the opponent it was opposite. It wasn’t a fantastic game for us in terms of play but the result is very crucial.”

Brighton: Ryan, Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Pröpper, Locadia (March 75). Groß, Kayal (Baldock 84), Izquierdo, Murray.
Substitutes: Bruno, Baldock, Hemed, Goldson, March, Krul, Suttner.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez (Fuchs 85), Ndidi, Iborra, Albrighton (Gray 79), Okazaki (Diabaté 56), Vardy.
Substitutes: Iheanacho, Silva, Dragovic, Jakupovic.

Referee: C Kavanagh. Attendance: 30,629.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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We have produced a Limited Edition (75) print of the FiftySomething strip from The FOX Summer Special 2016 – celebrating City’s Premier League title win. 

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The A3 sized print will be posted to you rolled in a cardboard tube.

There aren’t many left, so order yours now. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

The prints cost £6.50 and post & packing is £3.45. (UK only)

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Chelsea edge Leicester out of the Cup in extra time

Leicester City 1:2 Chelsea aet

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A Pedro header in extra-time settled a classic cup-tie in Chelsea’s favour at the KPS on Sunday evening…

Claude Puel made two changes to his side, with Iheanacho and Albrighton in for Okazaki and Gray, as City attempted to reach their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982.
The game moved from end to end almost from the start, and City went close in the 3rd minute. A low Simpson cross from the right found Albrighton, whose half-volley flew a yard wide of the right hand post.
City then looked exposed as Chelsea broke forward, but Willian over-hit his pass.
Morgan got his head to two corners, but the first deflected off Rudiger’s shoulder and the second cleared the bar.
Moses incurred the wrath of the home crowd, twice falling over in the hope of a free-kick, neither of which fooled the ref.
Ndidi then launched a long-range shot that was too close to Caballero to trouble him.
Morata began to look threatening, but sent one shot straight at Schmeichel and then sent a header over the bar from a decent position.

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In the 36th minute Maguire’s through ball set up a race between Vardy and Caballero, which the Chelsea keeper narrowly won.
The box to box nature of the game was summed up when Chelsea took a 42nd minute lead. Mahrez was crowded out by three defenders as he attempted to get into the area, and Chelsea broke swiftly with Willian easing round Chilwell and racing upfield.
His perfect pass to Morata took three defenders out of the equation and the Spaniard produced a cool finish to beat Schmeichel, ending a thirteen game goal drought.

City started the second half in a more attacking frame of mind and Chelsea looked stretched. A minute into the second half Caballero’s clearance went straight to Mahrez, but his long range shot at an empty goal was high, wide and not very handsome.
In the 53rd minute a delightful chip from Ndidi found Vardy between the two centre-halves, but he ballooned his header over the bar.
As City pressed forward Albrighton attempted a snap-shot from a tight angle but Caballero fielded it comfortably.
At the other end Moses sent a dangerous cross, into the goalmouth but Schmeichel’s touch took it away from the waiting Morata.
Claude Puel made his first change in the 68th minute, bringing Okazaki on for Iheanacho.
There was a lengthy stoppage when Moses caught Iborra in the face with an elbow, and City seemed more switched on after the restart, grabbing a 76th minute equaliser.
Mahrez ghosted past Kante and Alonso down the right and cut the ball back to Vardy whose shot was blocked. Iborra seized on the rebound, which was also blocked, but came back to him for another shot which was well saved by Caballero. The loose ball fell for Vardy who blasted it home from close range.

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City had their tails up now and three minutes after the goal Okazaki was a couple of inches away from putting a finishing touch to Chilwell’s cross.
City looked the more likely winners at this stage, but Caballero got down well to save a Vardy shot after he’d been sent through by Maguire.
Schmeichel then made two fine saves in as many seconds, twice denying Morata from close range.
Moses’ flying elbows claimed another victim in time-added-on and Albrighton had to be treated for a nosebleed, though Craig Pawson didn’t allow more added time for the lengthy stoppage.
So extra-time awaited for an already freezing crowd.

Pedro replaced Willian, just two minutes after the restart, before VAR was used for the first time after Fàbregas claimed an assault by Vardy.
With both teams looking leggy, Chelsea regained the lead in the 105th minute.
Kante chipped a ball into the area, Schmeichel came racing off his line to claim it, but Pedro nipped in ahead of him to nod the ball into an empty net.

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For the second half of extra-time, Puel replaced Iborra and Simpson with Silva and Diabaté, and City had a quarter of an hour to keep their cup hopes alive.
Two minutes into the final period City won a free-kick 35 yards out.
Silva back-heeled it for Mahrez who lofted it into the area, Okazaki nodded it on for Maguire who blasted it across the goalmouth. It went just behind Diabate at the far post but got fed back to Mahrez who had a fierce shot blocked by Kante. The loose ball fell for Diabate but his shot was blocked by Moses.
As play raced to the other end Kante had a shot brilliantly blocked by Albrighton, City’s Man of the Match.
Puel’s final change saw Gray on for Albrighton, but Chelsea were in full time-wasting mode now and play was broken up.
Despite Craig Pawson pointing to his watch every time a Chelsea player went down, or took an age to take a free-kick he only added one minute on, and the final whistle brought loud booing from the stands and an inquest between the City players and the ref.

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Sadly, a real opportunity to chase the one trophy that has always eluded City was missed, and the disappointment wasn’t eased when Chelsea drew Southampton in the post-match semi-final draw.

Claude Puel wasn’t impressed with the mysterious time-keeping: “They waste a lot of time and there was just one minute at the end. I think it was harsh. It would have been important to come back in the game. But they were trying to keep the result and to waste time because they have a lot of experience We can have more time to try to come back.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson (Diabaté 105), Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Iborra (Silva 105). Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 115), Iheanacho (Okazaki 68), Vardy. Substitutes: Hamer, Dragovic, Fuchs.
Chelsea: Caballero, Azpilicueta, Christensen (Cahill 101), Rüdiger, Moses, Kanté, Bakayoko (Fàbregas 45) Alonso, Willian (Pedro 92) Hazard, Morata (Giroud 105)
Substitutes: Zappacosta, Emerson, Eduardo.

Referee: C Pawson. Attendance: 31,792.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

——————————————————

We have produced a Limited Edition (75) print of the FiftySomething strip from The FOX Summer Special 2016 – celebrating City’s Premier League title win. 

fs poster

The A3 sized print will be posted to you rolled in a cardboard tube.

There aren’t many left, so order yours now. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

The prints cost £6.50 and post & packing is £3.45. (UK only)

You can pay online via Paypal HERE

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Leicester lose out in opening night thriller

Arsenal 4:3 Leicester City

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Despite twice taking the lead, City went home with nothing from a thrilling season curtain-raiser at the Emirates, suffering a late collapse and losing 4-3 to Arsenal…

The last City player to score a winner at Arsenal was Mike Stringfellow, in 1973, so this trip is always made more in hope than expectation.
With Huth, Iborra and Drinkwater ruled out through injury, and Iheanacho not quite up to match fitness, it was difficult to argue with Craig Shakespeare’s first starting line-up of the season. Maguire made his debut in defence, and James started his first game for City in over two years.
However, less than two minutes into the 2017-18 season City found themselves a goal down. Elneny curled a cross into the area, and an unmarked Lacazette had time and space to direct a header past Scmeichel from ten yards.
But City responded well and were level just three minutes later. Albrighton swung in a cross from the left, Maguire nodded it back across from the goalline and Okazaki leapt the highest to head past Cech from close in.
In a lively opening spell there were chances for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Vardy as play swept from end to end.
A good passing move from Arsenal then ended with Welbeck having a goalbound shot blocked by Maguire.
Arsenal had the upper hand by this stage and threatened again when Kolasinac fired in a shot which Schmeichel tipped away at the near post.
But it was City who took a 29th minute lead with a classic break. Albrighton hared down the left and delivered a cross into the goalmouth, which Vardy sidefooted home from four yards, having slipped between two defenders.

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City pressed forward again, and this time it was Fuchs who delivered a good cross from the left, Okazaki going inches wide with his header.
Loud appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee Mike Dean who recognised that Kolasinac had been a yard away when he struck the ball at Ndidi’s arm.
But City didn’t make it to half time with their lead. After a scramble on the edge of the area Arsenal passed their way through City’s back line, but with the entire City defence appealing for offside, Kolasinac squared for Welbeck who steered the ball past Schmeichel from close range with seconds of the half remaining.

The second half started in more pedestrian fashion than the first, and City created the first real chance when a good ball forward from Mahrez saw Vardy outpacing two defenders, but Cech had timed his run well to come out and sweep up.
Vardy didn’t have long to wait for his second goal of the season, as City regained the lead in the 56th minute. Mahrez delivered a corner from the right and Vardy took advantage of slack marking to rise and direct a header in at the far post.

1718 arsenal away a

Arsenal began to press forward and Schmeichel blocked a long range effort from Oxlade-Chamberlain and then smothered an effort from Bellerin at his near post.
The pressure then increased when Arsene Wenger introduced  Ramsey and Giroud to the action. Ramsey immediatley went close with a header, under pressure from Fuchs.
Craig Shakespeare made his first change in the 72nd minute, bringing on Amartey for Okazaki, before Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain both sent shots narrowly wide of the left hand post.
City were fighting a rearguard action, which Shakespeare attempted to relieve by bringing on Iheanacho for James, to give City more presence up front. But it appeared to backfire with the home side equalising in the 83rd minute.
A blatant handball from Ozil wasn’t seen by the referee and from the resulting corner Ramsey was allowed too much space on the right and had time to line up a shot past Schmeichel to level the game.
Worse was to follow two minutes later when Arsenal went ahead, Giroud winning a battle with Maguire to head home from a corner.
It was a heart-breaker for City and their followers, and despite throwing everything forward in five minutes of time added on, they couldn’t find a way through.

The winless run away to Arsenal now stretches to 44 years, but there was plenty to be optimistic about with this performance.

Craig Shakerspeare commented:  “We spoke about being compact and being a threat with the pace of Vardy. We executed that well. We’re disappointed to score three and come away with a defeat.”

Arsenal: Cech, Holding (Giroud 67), Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerín, Elneny (Ramsey 67), Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Welbeck (Walcott 75), Lacazette.
Subs Not Used: Ospina, Iwobi, Mustafi, Coquelin.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, James (Iheanacho 82), Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 88), Okazaki (Amartey 72), Vardy.
Substitutes: Chilwell, King, Hamer, Slimani.

Referee: M Dean. Attendance: 59,387.

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Leicester denied top half place by linesman’s flag

Leicester City 1:1 AFC Bournemouth

1617 afcb home d

City rounded off their season as Champions with a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at the KPS on Sunday, but they were robbed of a top half finish after Vardy was ruled offside for what should have been the winning goal…

Craig Shakespeare, in what could be his final game in charge, made two changes to his side, bringing in King and Slimani for Amartey and Okazaki.
But City, wearing next season’s kit, were caught napping in the first minute.
As Bournemouth broke upfield, Mousset got past Simpson and Fuchs down the left touchline, Fraser ran on to the loose ball and was upended by Simpson but the ref waved play on. Mousset was following up for a shot which was blocked by Chilwell, but Stanislas was following up to find the net.
This early setback rocked City and another Bournemouth cross zipped across the face of goal with no takers.
City created their first chance in the 9th minute. From a Fuchs long throw Mahrez attempted a spectacular overhead kick. It was headed clear as far as Chilwell, whose first time effort went well off target.

1617 afcb home c

Bournemouth almost went further ahead in the 25th minute, but Schmeichel tipped away a well-struck 22 yarder at full stretch.
City were struggling to get their game together, and didn’t really threaten the Cherries until late in the half.
Vardy sent Mahrez into the area but he was well tackled by Daniels when poised to strike. From the resulting corner Ndidi sent his header straight at Allsop, who gathered at the second attempt.

City got their act together in the second half, and levelled in the 51st minute.
Chilwell swung in a cross from the left, which Slimani nodded back across goal where Vardy was lurking unmarked to prod him his 13th goal of the season from two yards.

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Soon after this equaliser Benalouane was lucky not to see a second yellow card after a foul on Fraser, and he was replaced by Amartey.
A minute after this change Vardy appeared to have given City the lead after slicing through the Cherries defence, setting up Slimani, whose shot deflected back for him to net. The linesman halted the celebrations flagging for offside, but replays clearly showed Vardy to be level with his marker.
Vardy had a couple of chances after that, but Allsop denied him, while Slimani sent a volley off target.
Gray replaced Albrighton in the 73rd minute and the winger was given a standing ovation as he left the field, in acknowlegement of his unstinting effort this season.
City pressed forward in search of the winner that would give them a top half finish. Ndidi flashed a long range shot narrowly wide, and Chilwell sliced an effort wide of the near post. The best chance fell for Slimani, in the 85th minute when he rose at the far post to meet a Mahrez free-kick, but his header across goal went inches wide of the right hand upright.

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City had to be content with a point and a 12th place finish which, coupled with a Champions League quarter-final place, had to represent a very satisfactory season for a side that had been involved in the relegation scrap for a few months.
For Marcin Wasilewski it was definitely goodbye, and he was given a great send off by the crowd. How many others will follow him out of the door, only time will tell.
Craig Shakespeare didn’t seem to know what the future held for him:  “I’ve read the owner’s programme notes and we’ll sit down – there’s no given time. It is the end of the season and I will wait for that meeting. Of course they have made their decisions for the good of the club and for the future of the club. We’ll sit down and I’ll wait for those discussions.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane (Amartey 59), Fuchs, Chilwell, Mahrez, King, Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 73), Vardy, Slimani. Subs Not Used: Musa, Kapustka, Okazaki, Zieler, Wasilewski.
Bournemouth: Allsop, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Stanislas, Gosling, Surman, Pugh (Ibe 63), Fraser (Worthington 74), Mousset (Afobe 62). Subs Not Used: Ramsdale, Smith, Cargill, Surridge.

Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 32,000. 

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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Leicester’s European Adventure ended by Atletico masterclass

Leicester City 1:1 Atletico Madrid (1:2)

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City’s wonderful European Odyssey came to an end at the King Power on Tuesday night when Atletico Madrid’s first half away goal simply gave them too much to do…

Craig Shakespeare made one change from the first leg six days previously, with Morgan returning from his injury lay-off to replace the suspended Huth.
The teams emerged to a cauldron of an atmosphere with a forest of metallic blue, silver and gold flags in the home areas and the away corner contributing their own display of scarves.

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After we heard the Champions League Anthem for a tenth time, the noise increased still further as the game kicked off, with Madrid attacking the Kop end.

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With the game so finely balanced, neither side could afford to throw too many men forward, and the early stages saw City probing forward and trying to send Vardy through, but Atletico’s defence appeared to have the measure of him.
Atletico’s first attacking move came in the 12th minute, but Simpson managed to slide in to block a dangerous looking run from Griezmann.
The visitors’ attacking spell continued with fast and accurate passing and Carrasco’s low cross almost found Koke in the middle.
Saul then fired a shot from the edge of the area well wide.

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Ndidi wasted an opportunity as he ran forward into space but mishit his shot straight at Oblak.
City had a good spell 20 minutes in. They won a corner, but a Benalouane foul meant that it came to nought. But they continued to press forward and a Mahrez through ball sent Vardy into the area on the left. His cross to the near post found Okazaki but he blazed it wide from 6 yards as a challenge came in.
Soon after this, Griezmann brought Mahrez down, but the winger delivered a tame free-kick straight into Oblak’s grasp.
City then broke again, but Mahrez delayed his pass to Vardy and the offside flag halted the move.
Just as in the first leg, an attacking spell for City ended with a goal for Atletico.

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Filipe Luis swung in a cross from the left and Saul timed his run perfectly to send a precise header beyond Schmeichel’s reach and into the net.
It was the goal that City couldn’t afford to concede, and left them needing three goals to win the tie.
Although the crowd roared City on, Atletico were in control now and looking every inch one of the top sides in Europe.
Carrasco curled in a shot that Schmeichel had to be sharp to catch, before Mahrez struck a volley through a crowded defence that didn’t have enough pace to trouble Oblak.
Carrasco then went on a solo run down the right, rode a challenge from Benalouane, and seemed intent on dribbling the ball into the net before Schmeichel managed to halt his progress with a sliding tackle at the right hand post.

Craig Shakespeare was faced with a huge challenge at half time and he made two changes, introducing Ulloa and Chilwell for Okazaki and Benalouane.
This changed City’s shape and immediately made life less comfortable for the Champions League finalists. Both subs looked lively as City launched one attack after another.
There was a scare in the 50th minute, however, when Griezmann raced down the right, and hit a low cross to Carrasco. Albrighton applied just enough contact to prevent him from getting on the end of it without conceding a penalty.
City kept up the frantic pace and when a header from Vardy dropped into some space in the area Chilwell fired a fine volley inches over the bar.
City finally managed to breach Atletico’s defence in the 61st minute. Albrighton swung in a dangerous cross from the right which reached Chilwell at the back post. His fierce shot was blocked, but as he appealed to the ref for handball, the loose ball fell for Vardy who stabbed it home from six yards.
City still needed two goals, but the noise around the stadium was clamorous, Madrid were out of their comfort zone, and the miracle was still on.

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Four minutes later City came so close to a second. A Fuchs long throw from the left saw Morgan win an aerial duel and the ball sat up nicely for Ulloa who blasted a shot on target, but Hernandez somehow managed to block.
As City continued to pile forward Mahrez set up Vardy on the penalty spot but this time it was Savic who managed to get in the way of a goal bound effort.
With Atletico pinned in their own half, Ndidi was the next to have a shot on goal, but he miskicked it wide.
As the game entered the final twenty minutes Albrighton delivered another cross from the right, but Vardy’s smart backheeled effort didn’t catch out Oblak.
Godin then brought Mahrez down on the edge of the area: he took the free kick himself but it flew narrowly over the bar.
City continued to threaten relentlessly with crosses from Albrighton and Chilwell and long throws from Fuchs, but time was running out for them.
With seven minutes left Morgan went down and stayed down, having to be replaced by Amartey. It was a sad sight to see him limping round the perimeter after his first game back from injury and he was given a standing ovation all the way.
Atletico still had the threat of Griezmann on the break but on one occasion Schmeichel came racing way out of goal to thwart him, and then he should have fed Torres but fluffed the chance.
As the game entered time added on City looked exhausted after an incredible second half performance and Atletico had more posession.
Schmeichel came up for a late series of corners, but City couldn’t will the ball into the net and the final whistle signalled the end of City’s awfully big adventure.

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Most of the crowd remained after the final whistle, bristlng with pride, and after Diego Simeone had sought out the City players for a consoling hug, there was a fitting lap of honour.
It had been said that Leicester would embarrass England in the Champions League. As the last English team in the competition, winners of their group, and unbeaten at home, this could not have been further from the truth.

Craig Shakepeare summed up: “The whole club, from the supporters to the players to the owners can be immensely proud. We had them rattled with the effort and commitment we showed. It’s no discredit to lose to a team of that calibre. I’ve just said to the players that they should want more of this and they’ve agreed that that’s what they want. All players want to play at the highest level and the Champions League is the highest level but we have to get back to winning ways in the Premier League now.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan (Amartey 84), Benalouane (Chilwell 45), Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Okazaki (Ulloa 45), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Musa, King, Zieler, Gray.
Atletico: Oblak, Juanfran (Hernández 55), Savic, Godín, Filipe Luis (Correa 74), Ñíguez, Gabi, Giménez, Koke, Carrasco (Torres 69), Griezmann. Subs Not Used: Moyá, Gameiro, Partey, Gaitán.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi. Attendance: 31,548.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Leicester dig deep at West Ham for first away win

West Ham United 2:3 Leicester City

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A flying start, and a grimly determined finish, delivered City’s first away win of the season at West Ham on Saturday afternoon…

Craig Shakespeare made one change for City’s first trip to the London Stadium, with Benalouane in for Morgan, who injured his back against Sevilla.
And they got off to a great start, taking a 5th minute lead. Mahrez cut in from the right a swung in a cross that flew straight into the net, with Hammers keeper Randolph distracted by Okazaki’s attempted header.
Just two minutes later, the away end was celebrating again as City doubled their lead.
From a free-kick, Mahrez fed Albrighton on the edge of the area and his lofted flick found Huth on the six yard line, the German nodding home City’s second.

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West Ham’s afternoon then got worse when Reid pulled up while running for the ball and had to be replaced by Snodgrass.
But the home side began to get into their stride and pulled a goal back in the 21st minute.
Drinkwater fouled Antonio 25 yards out for a West Ham free-kick. Lanzini got it over the wall and just inside the left hand post with an excellent strike that left Schmeichel rooted to the spot.

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As West Ham pressed for an equaliser Antonio set up Ayew for a shot, which failed to hit the target. Then Antonio had a shot deflected into Schmeichel’s arms, before Carroll had a goal ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
Ayew then headed over when well placed, before City struck again in the 39th minute.
A Mahrez corner led to a scramble in the goalmouth, then Vardy seized on the loose ball lashing it into the roof of the net.

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Although Lanzini sent a shot narrowly wide, City took a two goal cushion in at the break.

Early in the second half, Benalouane tried an ambitious free-kick from the halfway line, but didn’t catch Randolph out as he collected it under the bar.
A fine Mahrez ball then sent Vardy in on goal, but he was off balance and sent his shot wide.
The home side began to crank up the pressure again, and Schmeichel got down smartly to tip a Lanzini’s free kick round the post.
West Ham reduced City’s lead in the 63rd minute. A Lanzini corner from the left was nodded back by Carroll at the far post, and Ayew headed home from close in.
It left a long time to defend a single goal lead, but City, now looking tried after their midweek heroics, dug deep to cling on to their precious lead.
As West Ham piled on the pressure, Craig Shakespeare made a double change in the 76th minute – Musa and Slimani replacing Vardy and Okazaki.
A minute later Carroll’s far post header forced a brillaint save from Schmeichel.
Ayew then blasted over from close in, with an equaliser looking imminent. Drinkwater cleared a Kouyate effort off the line as play became frantic.
What looked like a dislocated finger for Benalouane, held up play for a while and seemed to take the impetus away from West Ham. But they still looked certain to level in the 90th minute when Carroll found himself with just Schmeichel to beat from close range.
City’s captain for the day spread himself well and blocked the shot with a fantastic save.
City weathered six minutes of time added on, to claim three points away for the first time in eleven months.

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It was an immense performance from City and Craig Shakespeare commented: “There is no secret. I think hard work, commitment and endeavour, we showed all of them today, along with some good footballers. We scored the goals at the right time today. It gave us a foothold in the game. There is no secret. The hard work is paramount to success and we have to keep doing that.” 

West Ham: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Reid (Snodgrass 18), Cresswell (Masuaku 73), Kouyate, Obiang (Fernandes 67), Ayew, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll. Subs Not Used: Nordtveit, Feghouli, Adrian, Collins.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Chilwell 87), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Musa 76), Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs Not Used: King, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.

Referee: R East. Attendance: 56,979. 

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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THE FOX – THIRTY YEARS, AND WE’RE STILL HERE 

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Leicester end 2016 on a winning note

Leicester City 1:0 West Ham United

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The greatest year in Leicester City’s history ended with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against West Ham at the King Power Stadium on Saturday…

Claudio Ranieri brought Mahrez, Drinkwater and Huth back into the starting XI (with Chilwell retaining his place) and changed formation, with Mahrez operating freely behind lone striker Slimani.
City went at West Ham right from the kick off, Slimani setting up Mahrez for an acrobatic shot that tested Randolph in the Hammers’ goal.
Two minutes later City threatened again: a well-measured Drinkwater ball sent Albrighton haring down the right and he delivered a cross that Slimani met with a header that rattled the left hand post.
West Ham began to press forward having weathered the early assault. Cresswell had a fierce shot blocked, and then saw his dangerous cross intercepted by Morgan.
Drinkwater went close with a volley in the 19th minute, and then City raised the roof soon after with an opening goal.
Albrighton sent over another fine cross from the right and Slimani’s thumping far post header went back across Randolph and into the net.

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It was the goal that City, and Slimani, desperately needed and it gave the home crowd a real lift.
City continued to press forward and Ogbonna went close to scoring an own goal as he blocked an Albrighton cross.
But as half time approached, West Ham gained control of the game and City had some defending to do. An incisive Noble ball almost set up Antonio on the penalty spot before Simpson’s timely intervention. This led to a scramble on the six yard line before Amartey managed to hack the ball clear.
The Hammers then came within inches of an equaliser when a Cresswell cross from the left was met on the half-volley by Antonio, but his effort hit the bar.
It was an end-to-end encounter now and both sides went close from free-kicks on the edge of the area. Huth’s ball-winning challenge on Payet was punished by referee Andrew Taylor. Payet’s curling effort into the bottom right hand corner was tipped away by Schmeichel.

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Gray then broke upfield on a lone raid and was fouled by Reid.
Mahrez’s free-kick was heading for the top right hand corner when Randolph got a hand to it at full stretch.
City took the precious lead in with them at the break, but knew that they faced a hard battle in the second half.
Although West Ham had more possession, they were being kept at bay by City, until a close call in the 67th minute.
Cresswell’s well-struck free kick from the right took a deflection of Chilwell, but Schmeichel managed to change direction to pounce on the loose ball.
Claudio Ranieri made his first change with 20 minutes remaining, bringing on Fuchs for Mahrez and pushing Chilwell forward.
Payet went on a run though City’s defence, but his shot went tamely at Schmeichel.

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With ten minutes remaining, City were beginning to look a bit laboured and Ranieri injected new life into the performance, bringing on Okazaki and Ulloa for Gray and Slimani. This had the desired effect and the tide turned with City now pressing forward.
Chilwell connected well with a shot from inside the area but Carroll blocked.
With five minutes remaining Cresswell crossed from the left but Carroll’s free-header went a yard wide from close in.
During six minutes of time added on, Simpson blocked Ogbonna’s header, and City had done enough to earn a very welcome three points.

It was a fitting end to 2016, as Claudio Ranieri enthused: “It is very important to get three points to close our fantastic year – it was unbelievable for us. Of course, it is very important for our table, twenty points. Forty is considered the magic number to survive relegation, and we are halfway through.
Our first thirty minutes were fantastic. In the second half we closed all the space very well and tried to score a goal. It’s important now to improve our confidence and be solid and strong.”

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Chilwell; Drinkwater, Amartey; Gray (Okazaki 80), Mahrez (Fuchs 70), Albrighton; Slimani (Ulloa 82).Subs Not Used: Zieler, King, Mendy, Musa.
West Ham: Randolph, Reid, Cresswell, Nordtveit, Kouyate (Fernandes 78), Carroll, Noble (Lanzini 57), Ayew (Feghouli 64), Ogbonna, Payet, Antonio. Subs Not Used: Adrian, Obiang, Fletcher, Quina.

Referee: A Taylor. Attendance: 32,060.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 
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