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Okazaki inspires League Cup win for Leicester

Leicester City 2:0 Liverpool

1718 liverpool cc home c

Despite Liverpool’s total domination in the first half of this Carabao Cup 3rd round tie at the KPS on Tuesday night, an Okazaki-inspired City conjured up a 2-0 victory…

Craig Shakespeare made seven changes to his side, with Iborra and Dragovic making their debuts. But it was a youthful-looking Liverpool side, with Coutinho pulling the strings in midfield, that dominated play from the start, ending the half with 76% of the possession.
Although the Reds had 13 attempts on goal in the first half Hamer wasn’t that busy, with the City defence blocking most of them. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Grujic had their efforts blocked; Solanke fired one wide and Hamer saved a Coutinho shot.
Grujic thern headed wide from a corner and Coutinho sent another shot straight at Hamer.
With Slimani and Ulloa starved of service up front City’s first chance came in the 20th minute when Gray capped a run with a shot that was comfortably saved by Ward.
Liverpool then continued to tot up the chances, without troubling the scoreboard.
Solanke fired a shot over from close in, and had another effort blocked, before Robertson sent a left-footer wide.
An Oxlade-Chamberlain shot didn’t test Hamer, and the Coutinho missed the target with two other shots.
Having done virtually nothing but defend for 45 minutes, City had at least done that right, with a 0-0 scoreline that almost defied logic.

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In an apparently pre-ordained move Coutinho was withdrawn at the break, and with him went most of Liverpool’s creativity.
The second major turning point of the game came in the 53rd minute when Ulloa had to go off after falling heavily and was replaced by Okazaki.
The Japanese international instantly brought the near sell-out crowd to life with a strong run through the middle that showed more energy and positivity than anything they had witnessed in the whole first half.
Gray then went on a run through the middle, but sent his long range effort narrowly wide of the right hand post.
It was much improved performance from City and they took a 65th minute lead.
A ball forward from Chilwell saw Morgan win an aerial duel, Iborra nodded the ball into Okazaki’s path, and he steered it home from 12 yards out.

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Liverpool continued to waste chances. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Woodburn both cleared the bar, while Ings failed to make proper contact with a header from close in.
City gave them another spectacular lesson in finishing in the 78th minute when Slimani, running along the 18 yard line launched an unstoppable shot into the top left hand corner.
City almost made it 3-0 two minutes later when Gray cut in from the left and sent a shot towards the bottom right hand corner that Ward did well to palm round the post.

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Young prospect Choudhury made his first appearance replacing Ndidi in the 84th minute, as City saw the game out.
City were into the 4th round of the Carabao Cup, an outcome you wouldn’t have believed at half time. This game highlighted the importance of Shinji Okazaki to the side in the current set-up.
Craig Shakespeare paid tribute to Okazaki: “He has got his head down and trained impeccably but that is the character of the man. He won’t change. He has always been like that. He has walked away with the man of the match trophy and he didn’t even play half the game. That just shows you the level of his contribution and impact he was able to make from the bench.”

Leicester: Hamer, Amartey, Morgan, Dragovic, Chilwell, Albrighton, Ndidi (Choudhury 84), Iborra, Gray, Ulloa (Okazaki 53), Slimani. Substitutes: Iheanacho, Musa, Jakupovic, Mahrez, Benalouane.
Liverpool: Ward, Flanagan, Gomez, Klavan, Robertson, Wijnaldum (Ings 73), Henderson, Grujic, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Coutinho (Woodburn 45). Substitutes: Karius, Milner, MorenoMarkovic, Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: S Attwell. Attendance: 31,609.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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Leicester ease past Blades with second half show

Sheffield United 1: 4 Leicester City

1718 sheff utd away

City progressed in the Carabao Cup with a 4-1 win, eventually overcoming some spirited resistance from Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night.

The League Cup’s latest incarnation still appears to be a chance for squad players to turn out, with both sides making eight changes from their last league outings, and there were plenty of empty seats at Bramall Lane, apart from in the away end.

The first half didn’t reward those who had turned out to watch, with a goalless battle of attrition unfolding.
After a nervous moment when former-Blade Maguire received lengthy treatment after a foul by Lafferty, City had an early attacking spell. This came to nought after a couple of sliced crosses from Musa, who then fired a shot into the side-netting.
United carved out a couple of chances, but a shot from Carruthers and an Evans header both went straight into Hamer’s chest.
Gray forced a save from Eastwood, and Brooks attempt on goal almost squirmed under Hamer.
City began to get the upper hand towards the break, with Slimani having a goalbound shot blocked by Wright, and Chilwell forcing a good save from Eastwood.

City were unchanged for the second half, but stepped things up a gear, and went ahead in the 52nd minute.
It was Gray who produced a moment of magic, cutting in from the left wing and accelerating through three United defenders before slotting the ball through Eastwood’s legs.
The lead was doubled ten minutes later when a precise through ball from King sent Slimani in to round the keeper and sidefoot into an an empty net.
Eastwood produced a fine save to deny Gray’s curling shot, before City added a third in the 67th minute. Gray’s cross from the right fell perfectly for Slimani to scuff home at he far post.
Although United pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute, when what looked a like a mishit cross from Lavery caught Hamer out at his near post, the result was long beyond doubt.
City added a fourth in time added on when Musa, who hadn’t had a great game, persisted to the last. He battled his way round two challenges before firing into the roof of the net with the last kick of the game.

Craig Shakespeare was happy with the performance of Gray: “He has given me food for thought. The idea before the game was to give the squad and the players the game time which they needed and they answered in the right way.”

The Carabao Cup third-round draw takes place at 4.15am BST on Thursday, in Beijing.
We won’t be setting our alarm clocks.

Sheff Utd: Eastwood, Freeman, Wright, Basham 68), Connell, Baldock (Coutts 68), Brooks, Lundstram, Carruthers, Lafferty, Evans (Sharp 62), Lavery. Subs Not Used: Stevens, Basham, Thomas, Sharp, Coutts, Duffy, Blackman.
Leicester: Hamer, Amartey, Maguire (Knight 81), Fuchs, Chilwell, Musa, Ndidi (Mendy 77), King, Gray, Ulloa, Slimani. Subs Not Used: Vardy, Albrighton, Jakupovic, Okazaki, Mahrez.

Referee: T Harrington. Attendance: 11,280.

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Leicester fall at the first after Chelsea comback

Leicester City 2:4 Chelsea

1617-chelsea-home-lc-c

A two goal lead against Chelsea wasn’t enough to see City into the next round of the League Cup on Tuesday night at the KPS…

Claudio Ranieri made 7 changes to his starting line-up for this third round tie with only Zieler, Simpson, Morgan and Drinkwater retaining their places.
Chelsea also started with four player from their last outing and were on the front foot in the early stages. They had the ball in the net in the 4th minute but Pedro fell foul of a tight offside decision.
Chelsea then had a penalty appeal turned down when Wasilewski appeared to handle a Pedro cross, with City looking stretched.
After a quarter of an hour City’s first opportunity came when a Cahill error saw Musa charging towards goal, but the defender managed to recover for a face-saving challenge.
For all Chelsea’s early pressure, it was City who took a 17th minute lead.
A Musa cross wasn’t dealt with by the visitors defence and Okazaki stole in at the right hand post to nod the ball home.

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City were running the show now and doubled their lead in the 34th minute. Okazaki struck again from the same place, this time with a clever finish, struck downwards and over Begovic.
Gray then went close with a rasping shot, but some of the good work was undone when Chelsea pulled a goal back just before the half-time whistle. Cahill headed home a Fabregas corner, the ball over the line before Drinkwater’s clearance rebounded in off Luiz.

Four minutes into the second half Chelsea were level when a half clearance fell for Azpilicueta, who lashed an unstoppable volley into the top  right hand corner.
As City pressed to regain their lead there were loud penalty appeals when Gray went over after an Azpilicueta challenge, but referee Bobby Madley waved play on.

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The game changed in the 67th minute when Antonio Conte brought Costa on, and he put himself about as only Costa can.
He soon had a golden chance, putting a shot beyond Zieler but also the post.
City then missed a couple of great chances of their own. The first saw Musa in on goal after a Luiz mistake, but Begovic produced a fine save to deny his lofted effort. The second saw King plant a header wide at the far post when it looked easier to score.
Claudio Ranieri made his first changes in the 75th minute,  bringing on Ulloa for Okazaki, and Vardy for Musa.
Costa then breached the centre of City’s defence but Zieler produced a good save.
The German keeper then denied an increasingly dangerous looking Costa with a double save moments later.
With extra-time looming City were reduced to ten men after a reckless barge by  Wasilewski on Costa. It was the Pole’s second yellow and City were now up against it.

The extra-time that no one wanted was made more annoying when a great move ended with a Fabregas goal two minutes after the restart.
It was then game over when Febregas made it 4-2 with another excellent strike two minutes later.
The rest of extra-time was played at a pedestrian pace, with both sides knowing that Chelsea were in the fourth round.

Although it was disappointing to lose after being two goals ahead, no one will mourn this extra burden on the fixture list for too long.

Leicester: Zieler, Simpson, Wasilewski, Morgan, Chilwell, Drinkwater, King, Gray (Amartey 90), Schlupp, Musa (Vardy 76), Okazaki (Ulloa 75). Subs Not Used: Hamer, Benalouane, Mahrez, Kapustka.
Chelsea: Begovic, Alonso, Fabregas, Pedro (Hazard 89), Loftus-Cheek (Costa 67), Moses, Matic, Batshuayi (Chalobah 80), Cahill, Azpilicueta, Luiz. Subs Not Used: Kante, Courtois, Willian, Aina.

Referee: R Madley. Attendance: 29,899.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
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Tigers beat Foxes in penalty shoot-out

Hull City 1:1 Leicester City (5:4 on pens)

2015-16 hull away

Leicester were knocked out of the League Cup at the fourth round stage at Hull on Tuesday night, despite taking an extra-time lead through Riyad Mahrez…

Claudio Ranieri stuck to his League Cup policy of giving those players who aren’t making the first team a run out, which meant 10 changes for this trip to Hull, with Ben Chilwell making his debut at left-back.

City went close within a minute of the kick-off when Kramarić fired a long range effort narrowly wide, but then there was a scare at the other end when Luer should have opened the scoring for the Tigers but placed his shot from close range too near De Laet, allowing Schwarzer to gather.
Soon after, Maloney sent his effort into the side-netting as the Championship side threatened again.
The game then got bogged down in midfield with few chances before Diamé sent a shot well over when well placed just before the break.

The stalemate continued into the second half and, after Diamé and Taylor both went close for Hull, Ranieri took action in the 65th minute – Kramarić and Okazaki making way for Drinkwater and Vardy.
This gave City a livelier outlook and Vardy set up Dodoo but he shot wide.
After Albrighton saw his cross for Vardy intercepted by keeper Jakupović, Ranieri made a further change, bringing on Mahrez for Dodoo as City attempted to avoid extra-time.
Hernández forced a good save from Schwarzer, and then Inler fired wide, meaning an additional thirty minutes.

City finally broke the deadlock in the 100th minute… with loud home appeals for a penalty still ringing out Drinkwater broke swiftly upfield and set up Vardy whose shot was saved by Jakupović, but the rebound fell for Mahrez who stroked it home to the delight of the large travelling support.
However this lead only lasted 5 minutes as Hull levelled just before the extra-time break. Akpom’s low shot was blocked by Schwarzer but only as far as Hernández, who couldn’t miss from within the six yard box.
The second spell of extra time couldn’t separate the sides and we entered a penalty shoot-out…

It didn’t start well when Mahrez had his spot-kick saved, and City never got the opportunity to come back.
Although Drinkwater, Inler, Wasilewski and Vardy all found the net, Hull struck 5 out of 5 to take their place in the quarter finals…

Hull: Jakupović, Odubajo, Taylor (Hernández 79), Huddlestone, Maguire, Maloney, Diamé (Meyler 110), Hayden, Dawson, Robertson, Luer (Akpom 74). Subs Not Used: McGregor, Bruce, Clucas, Elmohamady.
Leicester: Schwarzer, De Laet, Benalouane, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Dodoo (Mahrez 84), Inler, King, Albrighton, Kramarić (Drinkwater 65), Okazaki (Vardy 65). Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Morgan, Simpson, Blyth.

Referee: Mr. S. Attwell. Attendance: 16,818. 

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Dodoo debut hat-trick sees Leicester ease past Bury

Bury 1:4 Leicester City

2015-16 bury away

Three goals in his first game from Joe Dodoo proved the difference as City progressed in the League Cup with a 4-1 win over Bury at Gigg lane on Tuesday night…

Claudio Ranieri made a wholesale eleven changes to his line-up for this League Cup meeting, though this was possibly City’s strongest ever ‘second string’ so he wasn’t really disrespecting the competition.
Inler, making his full debut, soon settled into his midfield role and Ulloa went close with a couple of early chances, a header and a shot on the turn, before Kante set Kramaric up for a shot which tested Walton in the Shakers goal.
City then took a 25th minute lead when Dodoo scored a cracker on his debut. As he progressed through the Bury penalty area he lifted the ball over the left back before firing a volley into the roof of the net.
The impressive midweek following for Leicester were celebrating again when Ulloa picked out Kramarić with a square pass and the Croatian beat Walton with a shot that curled just inside the left hand post.
It was a commanding lead for the Premier League team at the break, but it was eroded five minutes into the second half when the City defence lost out in an aerial challenge and Mayor was on hand to beart Schwarzer from 12 yards out.
Rose angled a shot narrowly past the far post and then Schwarzer was bundled into the net along with the ball for a free-kick, but City held on to their lead.
They extended it in the 86th minute, when Dodoo got his second goal of the night. Ulloa’s chest turn and pass sent Dodoo through down the right, slotting the ball under Walton while the home crowd yelled for an offside flag.
This led to a group of home fans gathering behind the linesman and one of them threw a drink over Moore as he went to take a thrown-in. Dodoo showed a cool head to drag him away as he looked ready to contront the offender.
And moments later Dodoo became only the third player in the club’s history to score three on his debut.
The man who was the second player to achieve this, Jeff Shlupp, pounced on a goalkeeping error before generously squaring the ball to Dodoo who fired past Walton before celebrating gleefully in front of the travelling support.

The 4-1 victory against a decent Bury side served to illustrate how City’s squad has strengthened of late.
They will face West Ham at home in the next round.

Bury: Walton, Riley, Hussey, Tutte, Clarke, Mellis, Mayor, Pope, Soares, Pugh, Cameron. Subs: Lainton, Hope, Sedgwick, Jones, Burgess, Rose, Foulds.
Leicester: Schwarzer, Hammond, Kante, Moore (De Laet 90), Kramaric (Schlupp 66), Ulloa, Wasilewski, Fuchs, Benalouane, Inler, Dodoo. Subs Not Used: Simpson, Chilwell, Panayiotou, Olukanmi, Maddison.
Referee: A Madley. Attendance: 4,914 (1,327 away).

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Late drama sees Leicester past Fulham and into the quarter finals

Leicester City 4:3 Fulham

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City are the only Championship side left in the League Cup after defeating Fulham in a 4-3 thriller at the KPS on Tuesday night…

Nigel Pearson made five changes to his side bringing in Miquel, Hammond, James, Schlupp and Wood.
After a cagey start to the game, with City trying to close down Fulham’s passing game.
But the Premier League side took an 18 minute lead following a slick move that saw Riise in down the left and finding Rodallega at the far post who netted from inches out despite City’s loud appeals for offside.
It was a tough task for City now but they pressed on. Wood forced a save from Cottagers’ keeper Stekelenburg and Knockaert also tested him with a shot, before Konchesky fired a shot over the bar.
City’s efforts were finally rewarded four minutes before the break. After Boatang brought down Hammond for a cautionable offence, Knockaert fired in a 25 yarder that Stekelenburg could only parry straight to Morgan who was left with the simple task of nodding the ball past him to level the game.
Four minutes later, to the delight of the home crowd, Fulham gifted City another goal. Senderos hit a poor clearance against the back of Konchesky and it fell perfectly for Wood to find the net from the edge of the six yard area six yards out to give City a half time lead that had looked highly unlikely five minutes earlier.

Dyer replaced Konchesky after the break and fired narrowly wide right from the kick off in what proved to be a lively start to the second half.
In the 50th minute Miquel rose above the visitor’s defence to nod Drinkwater’s cross home and give City a two goal cushion.
However, this was instantly reduced back to a single goal as City appeared to be caught napping and Rodallega headed his second from a teasing Karagounis cross.
Martin Jol introduced Ruiz and Bent to the action, but City were still looking the better side. A series of chances failed to produce a goal to kill off Fulham: Wood’s hooked shot over his own shoulder just failed to catch Stekelenburg out, Dyer and then James had shots blocked, and Schlupp missed the target when well placed.
At the other end Schmeichel pulled off a fine save to deny Ruiz.
As the clock ticked on it looked as though City were almost there when Wasilewski brought down Ruiz right on the 18 yard line.  Karagounis arrowed it into the top right hand corner and a hugely disappointed crowd prepared themselves for extra-time.
It wasn’t required however. Straight after Fulham’s equaliser Pearson then brought on Vardy and Nugent for Knockaert and Wood – and both were involved in City’s winner.
A fine pass down the right from Vardy set Nugent up for a perfect cross which Dyer raced in to convert from 12 yards.
The roof nearly lifted off the KPS and, despite 6 minutes of time added on, City made it through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2000.
Nigel Pearson summed up: “I don’t like conceding three goals but I really enjoy scoring four,” said the manager at final whistle. The most important thing tonight was going through to the next round. We thought we had a chance, and that proved to be the case.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Konchesky (Dyer 46), Drinkwater, Morgan, Hammond, James, Schlupp, Miquel, Knockaert, Wasilewski, Wood. Subs Not Used: Vardy, King, Moore, Taylor-Fletcher, Logan, Nugent.
Fulham: Stekelenburg, Riise, Senderos, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Duff (Ruiz 56), Hughes, Taarabt, Rodallega (Bent 64), Zverotic, Boatang (Sidwell 81). Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Dejagah, David, Amorebieta.

Referee: Keith Stroud. Attendance: 17,937.

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Knockaert inspires Leicester fightback against Rams

Leicester City 2:1 Derby County

Photo: Shellie Marlowe

Photo: Shellie Marlowe

City made into the fourth round of the League Cup with a win over neighbours Derby at the KPS on Tuesday night, two late goals from Knockaert and Drinkwater turning the game on its head…

Nigel Pearson made eight changes to his side with: Hammond, Hopper, Bakayogo, Taylor-Fletcher, Miquel and Wasilewski all in the starting line-up for the first time.
A bright start saw early chances for Schlupp and Hopper and then Coutts got a shot on target.
Buxton was then denied by a Bakayogo goal-line clearance, before the game settled down into something of a stalemate.
Drinkwater went close with a shot on the turn, but it was the Rams who went into at the break a goal ahead after Russell squared from the right for Martin to beat Schmeichel in the 42nd minute.

Dyer and Nugent replaced Bakayogo and Hopper for the second half with City changing from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2.
Taylor-Fletcher then sent Nugent through for a chance well saved by Grant before making way for Knockaert just after the hour.
Soon after this Russell missed the target, and a chance to kill the game off, when well placed.
Instead, it was City who found the net with 12 minutes remaining.  A well-struck Knockaert free-kick from 30 yards struck the bar, bounced down and into the net to the delight of the Frenchman and home crowd.
For the second game running City struck again soon after.
Drinkwater got a touch to a James free-kick launched into the box and it found the net, sparking more manic celebrations.
This double blow knocked the stuffing out of Derby and City managed to hold on to their lead without any late dramas, going into Wednesday night’s fourth round draw.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Drinkwater, Hammond, James, Schlupp, Moore, Hopper (Nugent 46), Bakayogo (Dyer 46), Taylor-Fletcher (Knockaert 63), Miquel, Wasilewski. Subs Not Used: De Laet, Konchesky, Whitbread, Logan.
Derby: Grant, Forsyth, Bryson, Keogh, Coutts (Davies 28), Martin, Russell, Freeman, Sammon, Hughes (Jacobs 90), Buxton. Subs Not Used: Smith, Ward, Deeney, Eustace, Bennett.

Referee: Dean Whitestone. Attendance: 14,043.

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