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United snatch Champions League spot from Leicester

Leicester City 0:2 Manchester United

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League

City fell at the last against Manchester United, losing 2-0 at the KPS on Sunday, and had to settle for a Europa League spot.

Brendan Rodgers made three changes to his side for this winner-takes-all end of season showdown, with Albrighton, Choudhury and Iheanacho in for Bennett, Perez, and Barnes.
There was an early threat from United when Pogba broke through and appeared to be shoved over by Morgan, but an offside flag spared the ref a decision.
Although United looked comfortable in the opening stages there was an encouraging moment in the 9th minute when Maguire tackled Iheanacho from behind and picked up an early yellow card.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League

City’s first chance came in the 15th minute when Tielemans set up Ndidi for a 20 yarder, that didn’t go far wide, especially when compared to some of his recent potshots.
City began to press forward and Thomas’s unconventional cut back crosses were causing United some concern. One made it through to Albrighton at the far post, but he fired over from a tight angle.
City should have gone ahead in the 25th minute when they broke upfield three against two. Iheanacho ploughed down the middle with Vardy on his left and Justin his right, but opted to go it alone. His scuffed shot wasn’t held by de Gea but Vardy came from an offside position as he blasted the rebound against the United keeper.
Tielemans then sent a low shot inches wide as City chased the goal that could get them Champions League qualification.
Vardy then got on the end of another Thomas cross but it was a difficult chance and he couldn’t get his effort on target.
United finished the half with a strong spell, Rashford ballooned the ball over the bar from a decent position, and then a timely foot in from Justin saw a goalbound Martial shot deflected wide.
In time-added-on Rashford sent in a thunderous half-volley, but Schmeichel blocked it at his near post.
It had been a very satisfactory first half for City, but they still desperately needed that precious goal.
With Chelsea 2-0 up against Wolves, it was now win or bust for City.

Justin came to City’s rescue again soon after the restart, making up his ground well to deny Martial a run at goal.
United kept City at bay for a while and Brendan Rodgers made his first change just before the hour, bringing on Pérez for Iheanacho.
Two minute later City went agonisingly close when Vardy got a looping header to a Tielemans free-kick that sailed over deGea but hit the angle of post and bar.
But the 68th minute knocked the wind out of City’s ambitions when United were awarded a penalty.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League

After Choudhury was dispossessed in midfield Martial was sent through on goal. He was sandwiched by Morgan and Evans and went over. VAR watched plenty of replays and it looked as though Evans had got a toe to the ball, but a penalty it was, and Fernandes’ trademark dangling leg style saw him send Schmeichel the wrong way.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League

City faced a huge task now, and Rodgers brought on Barnes, Gray and Praet for Albrighton, Tielemans, and Choudhury.
The subs combined to make a chance, with Gray landing a shot in the area, but Barnes’ hurried shot on the turn went straight into de Gea’s gloves.
Another good cut back cross from Thomas saw Morgan producing an air shot, though in fairness it was behind him.
A shot from Gray was then deflected wide by Maguire but United got a goal kick, leaving us wondering what exactly VAR is for.
Hirst replaced Thomas late on and City had five minutes of added time to score two goals. But at this stage everything went badly wrong.
Evans, showing some unaccustomed frustration, lunged in on McTominay and was shown a straight red.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League

Then Schmeichel dithered over a clearance, and was robbed on the edge of the area by Lingard, who scored rolled his first goal of the season into an empty net.

City had fallen at the last, and it was bitterly disappointing that they had been caught by the chasing pack after having a 15 point cushion and looking like certainties for a Champions League place at one stage.
Maybe in time we will appreciate that fact that it was City’s second highest Premier League placing, and their 5th best in the club’s history, but at the moment it doesn’t feel good. The decline set in around Christmas, and didn’t pick up after Project Restart, though the list of injuries and suspensions would have damaged any side.
Jamie Vardy managed to stay ahead of the rest to claim the Golden Boot with his total of 23. We can only hope he continues to defy the passing years.

Europe here we come….

Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Morgan, Evans, Albrighton (Gray 73), Choudhury (Praet 73), Ndidi, Tielemans (Barnes 73), Thomas (Hirst 88), Iheanacho (Pérez 58), Vardy.
Substitutes: Gray, Ward, James, Mendy, Bennett.
Man Utd: de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Williams, Pogba, Matic, Greenwood (Lingard 77), Bruno Fernandes (McTominay 86), Rashford (Fosu-Mensah 90), Martial (Ighalo 90).
Substitutes: Bailly, Mata, Fred, James, Romero.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

 

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Defeat at Tottenham leaves Leicester with a big task

Tottenham Hotspur 3:0 Leicester City

1920 tottenham away

City’s first ever visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium saw them beaten 3-0, setting up a possible winner-takes-all showdown with Manchester United next week.

Brendan Rodgers, with his options running out due to injuries and suspension, named an unchanged line-up, sticking with his back three formation.
But it soon became clear that it wasn’t going to be City’s day.
From a Spurs clearance Kane delivered a sweeping pass that sent Son down the left channel. He cut inside Bennett, who slipped at the vital moment, and although his shot was going wide it deflected off Justin and wrong-footed Schmeichel, for a second unfortunate own goal in two games. Kane was two yards offside and in Schmeichel’s eyeline but VAR did not intervene.
City had a chance to strike back a minute later when Justin sent a tempting cross over, but Vardy headed it over the bar.
City pressed forward and Vardy had a shot blocked by Alderweireld. Then Justin was also denied with Davies getting in the way of his effort, and Pérez hit Aurier with yet another shot.
In the 20th minute a corner form the right was headed goalwards by Morgan. It fell to the feet of Vardy who jabbed a backheel that was smothered by Lloris.
The Spurs keeper then made a hash of a Tielemans cross, but Winks was on hand to clear. We saw the best and worst of the World Cup winner within four minutes as he pulled off a spectacular save after Pérez took a Thomas cross on his chest and then volleyed it towards the bottom right hand corner.
On the half hour there was a fine save at the other end when Spurs broke forward and Son launched an effort which Schmeichel tipped over.
For all City’s possession, Tottenham looked a threat on the break and so it proved in the 37th minute. A City corner was headed clear as far as Thomas, but he lost possession and the white shirts were charging upfield. Lucas Moura fed a ball through to Kane’s perfectly timed run and he produced a clinical finish, guiding the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
If this left City with an uphill task, it was game over in the 40th minute.
Again Thomas lost possession, again Spurs poured forward and again Lucas Moura set Kane up. He accelerated round Bennett and curled a shot round Morgan and just inside the far post.
City hadn’t played badly going forward, but were too vulnerable to the counter attack, and were now clinging to fourth place on goal difference.

Rodgers pulled Bennett from the fray for the second half, bringing Gray on, and City were caught between trying to grab a goal back and leaving themselves open again.
A superb reverse-pass from Kane almost sent Son in but his first touch was poor.
City had fewer chances now. A 30-yard free-kick from Gray forced a regulation tip over from Lloris and then Morgan headed wide from the resulting Tielemans corner.
Barnes then fired in a shot from a good position, but straight at Lloris.
The rest of the half saw a parade of substitutes. Iheanacho replaced Pérez, and then, with an eye on next week, Ndidi and Tielemans were withdrawn from a battle that had been lost, with Praet and Mendy coming on.
Evans was wrestled to the ground by Sanchez at a corner, but VAR turned a blind eye.
George Hirst made his City debut in the 83rd minute, with Barnes making way and he soon had a chance. After Lloris had tipped away an Iheanacho shot, Hirst headed over from the corner.

That was the last significant incident and having lived in the top four for months, City were now clinging on by the narrowest of margins.
The permutations of that final showdown won’t be known until Wednesday night, but City fans may have taken heart from Manchester United’s disastrous showing in the FA Cup later in the evening.

Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, D Sánchez, Alderweireld, Davies, Sissoko, Winks (Skipp 90), Lucas Moura (Bergwijn 77), Lo Celso (Lamela 77), Son Heung-Min (Carvalho Fernandes 89), Kane.
Substitutes: Vertonghen, R Sessegnon, Foyth, Gazzaniga, Tanganga.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Bennett (Gray 45), Morgan, Evans, Justin, Ndidi (Mendy 70), Tielemans (Praet 70), Thomas, Pérez (Iheanacho 59), Vardy, Barnes (Hirst 83).
Substitutes: Ward, Choudhury, James, Johnson.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

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Leicester seal European place with victory over the Blades

Leicester City 2:0 Sheffield United

Leicester City v Sheffield United - Premier League

City bounced back from the disaster at Bournemouth with a fine 2-0 win against Sheffield United at the King Power Stadium on Thursday evening.

Brendan Rodgers’ squad is being stretched thin with Maddison, Chilwell and Fuchs out for the rest of the season and Söyüncü suspended. He made four changes to his side bringing Morgan, Bennett and Barnes in and handing 19-year old Luke Thomas his debut.
United carved out an early chance as City’s new defence got bedded in, Justin just managing to get a foot in to block a McGoldrick shot. But after that City applied a concerted spell of pressure.
Tielemans had a shot deflected and Thomas delivered a fine cross for Pérez, who nodded over from a good position. Justin then crossed from the right and Vardy’s first shot was smothered by Basham, his second from the rebound was fended away by Henderson’s out-stretched leg.

Leicester City v Sheffield United - Premier League

With City moving the ball around well Thomas cut a ball back for Evans who swung over a cross that Pérez caught on the volley at the far post. Henderson again came to the Blades rescue, blocking that shot and Tielemans’ follow up.
City kept up their attacking momentum after the drinks break and took a 28th minute lead. Thomas squared a ball to Pérez in the area, and he teed himself up for a precise shot into the bottom left hand corner.

Leicester City v Sheffield United - Premier League

There were few incidents up to the break, with Ndidi bossing the midfield, Tielemans looking back to his best and Thomas an assured presence on the left. The defence coped easily with everything the Blades had to offer up front.

United hadn’t looked like the side that beat Chelsea 3-0 and Chris Wilder brought on three subs for the second half. But City remained in control and went close in the 51st minute. An excellent through ball from Tielemans sent Vardy down the left channel but, under pressure from Egan, his shot skimmed the outside of the left upright.
After this Vardy turned provider, first playing a ball into Barnes’ path, though a subtle push in the back from O’Connell saw him off-balance when he shot straight at Henderson.
In the 61st minute Vardy set up Barnes again having drawn two defenders to him, but his first time effort was placed too close to Henderson.
There was a concern that City might pay for not taking their chances, and United went close in the 63rd minute. From a corner Egan nodded the ball down at the far post and it deflected off Lundstram’s thigh, forcing a fine reaction save from Schmeichel.
Nothing came of a series of United corners and the drinks break saw City preserving their narrow lead. Choudhury replaced Pérez for what now appears to be called the final quarter.
City were having less possession at this stage and Rodgers brought Gray on for Barnes. After three minutes on the pitch he sealed the win.
A fine ball forward from Evans sent Vardy down the left. He cut in and picked out Gray in the area, who cut a precise low shot across Henderson and into the net.

Leicester City v Sheffield United - Premier League

United looked beaten now and City managed the the last ten minutes well.
It had been a fine performance that had seen City assured of a Europa League place at least. More importantly a Champions League place is still on if they can achieve this level of performance in the final two games.

Leicester City v Sheffield United - Premier League

Another big positive was the outstanding performance of Syston”s own Luke Thomas, who didn’t look out of place at this level and could provide an instant replacement if Chilwell’s future lies elsewhere.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Bennett, Morgan, Evans, Justin, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas, Pérez (Choudhury 71), Vardy, Barnes (Gray 76). 
Substitutes: Ward, Iheanacho, James, Mendy, Praet, Johnson, Hirst.
Sheff Utd: Henderson, Basham (Sharp 59), Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Berge (Lundstram 45), Norwood, Osborn (Fleck 45), Stevens, McBurnie, McGoldrick (Mousset 45).
Substitutes: Jagielka, Freeman, Robinson, Moore, Zivkovic.

Referee: Michael Oliver.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Calamitous second half at Bournemouth dents Leicester’s Champions League hopes

AFC Bournemouth 4:1 Leicester City

AFC Bournemouth v Leicester City - Premier League

After totally controlling the first half and going ahead, the ceiling collapsed on City at Bournemouth on Sunday evening, with the relegation threatened Cherries racking up a 4-1 victory.

Brendan Rodgers made one change to his side for this trip to the sunny south coast, with Fuchs in for Bennett and a back three of Evans, Söyüncü and James.
There was a minute’s silence in honour of Jack Charlton before kick off.

1920 bournemouth away c

Bournemouth were desperate for a win to aid their survival hopes but looked nervous in the opening spell and defensive errors set up City with a couple of half chances.
Ake managed to chest one effort away with Vardy closing in.
Then a wayward header from Rico almost allowed Pérez in.
Brendan Rodgers was forced into a first change in the 15th minute when Albrighton had to go off, replaced by Bennett, with James moving to right wing back.
City were much the better side in every department at this stage and took a 24th minute lead. Pérez dispossessed Gosling on the halfway line and fed Iheanacho. The pair combined well down the left before Iheanacho lifted the ball over the onrushing Ramsdale. Kelly blocked the cross/shot with an off-balance back flick, but Vardy was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.

AFC Bournemouth v Leicester City - Premier League

You could see the confidence drain away from Bournemouth and City took full control of proceedings. Iheanacho fired off a couple of shots as City looked to extend their lead.
Danjuma then passed the ball back straight to Vardy but Ake manged to lunge in and divert his shot over the bar.
But things looked bleak for the Cherries when Ake then had to go off after lengthy treatment with what looked like a season-ending injury.
The home side finally troubled Schmeichel in the 45th minute, with the City keeper tipping a Brooks 25-yarder over the bar.
City reapplied the pressure in time-added-on but couldn’t find another goal to kill Bournemouth off.

Rodgers made his second change at the break with Iheanacho a little unfortunate to be replaced by Praet.
Bournemouth made two changes but still had the haunted look of a relegation side about them.  A well struck Pérez effort was too close to Ramsdale but certainly warmed his palms.
Just before the hour City were losing some of their urgency and Bournemouth should have levelled. A free-kick skidded across the goalmouth and was missed by both Justin and Wilson at the far post.
But disaster struck in the 64th minute, and the match was turned on its head.
Schmeichel hoofed a low clearance upfield straight in Ndidi’s backside, Wilson seized on the gift and Ndidi tripped Wilson in the area.
Schmeichel dived to his right for the spot kick which Stanislas sent down the middle and the hosts were back in the game.

AFC Bournemouth v Leicester City - Premier League

A 100 seconds later City conceded again. Solanke, who had gone 38 games without a goal, burst down the left, no one closed him down and he fired a low shot that squirmed under Schmeichel and crept over the line.
To make matters worse, as Wilson and Söyüncü wrestled to retrieve the ball from the net the City centre-half booted the striker in the back of the knee. Stuart Attwell showed him a season-ending red card and VAR agreed.
Ten man City looked stunned by this mad two minutes and had very little to offer now against a Bournemouth side with their tails up.
Disaster struck again in the 83rd minute when Stanislas nipped past Fuchs down the right and hit a low shot that was heading wide before it stuck Evans’ heel and found the bottom right hand corner.
Four minutes later further folly saw the Cherries go 4-1 ahead.
Fuchs attempted an over-ambitious pass from wide to Bennett in the area. Solanke nipped in to steal the ball and prodded it through Schmeichel’s legs.
It could have been worse in the 90th minute when young substitute Surridge sent the ball wide of an open goal.
City finally managed an attack in time-added-on, but Barnes well-struck effort was blocked by Ramsdale.
It had been an incredible turnaround, with a fine first half performance from City crumbling away to nothing in a deeply worrying fashion, while Bournemouth lived to fight another day.
City’s Champions League place, once sitting on a comfortable 14 point cushion, was now in severe jeopardy with Manchester United marching up the league, and Manchester City winning their UEFA Appeal.
Schmeichel and Söyüncü issued post-match apologies for their roles in the fiasco, but Brendan Rodgers’ substitutions and tactics also played a part.
With three tough games coming up, and players missing through injury and suspension, it is hard to envisage this season ending well.

Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Stacey, Aké (S Cook 40), Kelly, Rico, Brooks (L Cook 81), Gosling (Billing 45), Lerma, Danjuma Groeneveld (Stanislas 45), Solanke, C Wilson (Surridge 90). 
Substitutes: Boruc, Surman, H Wilson, Simpson.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Söyüncü, Albrighton (Bennett 16). Ndidi, Tielemans, Fuchs, Pérez (Barnes 71), Iheanacho (Praet 45), Vardy.
Substitutes: Morgan, Gray, Ward, Choudhury, James, Mendy.

Referee: Stuart Attwell.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Late Vardy strike earns Leicester a point at the Emirates

Arsenal 1:1 Leicester City

Arsenal FC v Leicester City - Premier League

City gained their first point at Arsenal in a quarter of a century with a late Vardy equaliser at the Emirates on Tuesday night.

Brendan Rodgers made one change to his side, with Bennett making his first start in place of the injured Chilwell and the three-man defence that was successful against Palace employed again.
After dealing with some early attacks, City took the game to Arsenal.
In the 9th minute Pérez fed a ball to Vardy who emerged from a challenge by David Luiz with the ball , but his well-struck shot from 18 yards went straight at Martínez.
City continued to press forward and Iheancho forced another save from the keeper with a low shot.
City were allowing their hosts no time and they had to wait until the 20th minute for a chance, Tierney connecting well with a 30 yard half-volley that didn’t test Schmeichel.
But a minute later Arsenal took the lead. Ceballos sent Saka down the right channel, Evans slipped on the wet turf and low ball across goal was swept home by Aubameyang.

1920 arsenal away a

After a drinks break unsuitable for a chilly wet night in North London, the game recommenced, and the tide had turned completely, with Arsenal doing all the attacking.
Schmeichel was kept busy for the rest of the half with the City defence being regularly breached. He saved a low shot from Saka with his feet, and then made a brilliant block from Lacazette’s fierce shot on the turn from 12 yards.
City had a rare break upfield in the 36th minute and had the ball in the net, but  Iheanacho was penalised for a foul on Kolasinac before he converted a fine cross from Vardy. It looked a little harsh.

Arsenal FC v Leicester City - Premier League

Play was soon back up the other end and Bellerin delivered a far post ball to Lacazette, whose thumping header went straight into Schmeichel’s grasp.
The one-way traffic continued, with City’s defence being worked hard by Aubameyang and Saka, but they reached the break without conceding again.
During time-added-on Vardy caught Mustafi in the face with his studs as they both went to ground, but the Arsenal man was able to carry on.

Brendan Rodgers made no chances at half time and City threatened with a couple of crosses early in the second half. But it was Arsenal who went close when a David Luiz free-kick deflected off the wall and Schmeichel had to tip it round the post.
Vardy then floated in a fine cross from the right, but Iheancho’s volley was too close to Martínez.

Arsenal FC v Leicester City - Premier League

Brendan Rodgers made his first changes on the hour, bringing Fuchs and Barnes on for Iheanacho and Albrighton with City reverting to 4-4-2. Arsenal went in to a more defensive mode and City dominated possession.
A Justin cross found the head of Barnes but was directed straight at Martínez.
Arsenal had to retreat even further after 73 minutes when they went down to ten men. Nketiah, who had been on the field for three minutes, mistimed a challenge and planted him studs on Justin’s knee. After a lengthy VAR enquiry and a monitor check from Chris Kavanagh the red card was brandished.
The red and white shutters went up and City had to find a way through. Gray came on for Bennett, and then Praet for Ndidi in an attempt to carve Arsenal open, and City made the breakthrough in the 84th minute.

Arsenal FC v Leicester City - Premier League

Gray hooked a cross over the Arsenal defence and Vardy popped up at the far post to side foot it home. There followed a long and tense wait for VAR looking at a possible offside, but the goal stood.
City chased the three points, but couldn’t find a way through Arsenal’s dogged defence, even in the 8 minutes added on for VAR and drinks breaks.

They had to be content with the first point at Arsenal since the 1994-95 season, but dropped below Chelsea into fourth place after their win at Palace.

Arsenal: Martínez, Mustafi, David Luiz, Kolasinac, Bellerín, Ceballos (Torreira 80), Xhaka, Tierney, Saka (Willock 71), Lacazette (Nketiah 71), Aubameyang (Maitland-Niles 90).
Substitutes: Papastathopoulos, Holding, Pépé, Nelson, Macey.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Bennett (Gray 76), Evans, Söyüncü, Justin, Ndidi (Praet 82), Tielemans, Albrighton (Fuchs 59), Iheanacho (Barnes 59), Vardy, Pérez.
Substitutes: Morgan, Ward, Choudhury, James, Mendy.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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100 up for Vardy as Leicester cash in on Palace gifts

Leicester City 3:0 Crystal Palace

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Following a half-time reshuffle City got their first post-restart win against Palace at the KPS on Saturday, with Jamie Vardy finally getting to the 100 Premier League goals mark.

Despite the City of Leicester entering a new period of Covid-19 lockdown, this game was judged safe to go ahead.
Brendan Rodgers made two changes to his side, with Iheanacho and Perez in for Praet and Barnes, and Maddison a spectator in the stands due to a troublesome hip injury.
An attack-minded City line-up with three at the back took the game to Palace in the early stages, and the first clear chance was created in the 9th minute. An Albrighton cross from the right found Iheanacho unmarked in the area but he mistimed his jump and nodded wide.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Five minutes later City went a bit closer when Tielemans squared for Justin who took a touch on the edge of the area before sending a swerving shot against the crossbar.
With nearly all the play in Palace’s half more chances came and went.
After a goalmouth scramble, a classic striker’s clearance from Benteke went straight to Evans who fed Pérez, but his shot was charged down by what looked like Sakho’s arm. Jon Moss waved away the penalty appeals.
After a delay in which Chilwell received treatment in the dressing room for a heel injury and the drinks break, play recommenced and Palace had a rare chance. Milivojevic, often lethal from free-kicks, curved one just wide of the left hand post.
Much sideways passing followed as City tried to find a way through a well drilled Palace defence and the next chance came in the 37th minute.  Pérez pounced on a van Aanholt error and fed the ball through to Vardy but, as in recent weeks, his first touch was heavy and the chance was gone. Vardy booted the post in exasperation.
It was goalless at the break with a growing sense of frustration.

However, that was soon eased in the second half.
With Bennett on for Chilwell, Abrighton on the left and Justin on the right City immediately looked more of a threat and they were soon ahead.
In the 49th minute a good move down the left saw Tielemans deliver a low cross into the corridor of uncertainty. Guaita hesitated, failed to intercept, and Iheanacho was in the right place to side foot home from close range.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

City should have gone further ahead when Pérez fed Vardy into the area, and although his first touch was excellent this time, he shanked his shot into the side netting.
There was a rare chance for Palace when Cahill got on the end of a cross but Schmeichel got down smartly to save his header.
In the 64th minute Praet came on for Iheanacho and this was followed by a double sub ten minutes later with Fuchs and Barnes replacing Albrighton and Perez. This rearranged line-up extended the lead immediately.
Schmeichel launched a huge kick upfield and Vardy left the defence in his wake but fell over as he shot wide. He angrily thumped the turf, but fortunately got up again swiftly.
Sakho had the chance to clear the ball up the left but, for reasons known only to himself, he attempted a Cruyff Turn round Barnes and fell flat on his face.
Barnes had the simple task of squaring the ball to Vardy who tapped in from six yards to reach his 100th Premier League goal.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Palace then had an attacking spell which saw the magnificent Evans blocking an Ayew shot, and then Zaha lifting an effort over the bar after a fine ball over the defence from Townsend.
But it was City, and Vardy, who had the final word. It was a classic Vardy breakaway goal. Barnes played him in down the left channel, where he had run from his own half to defeat the offside trap. He showed the Eagles defence a clean pair of heels and then dinked the ball over Guaita as the keeper came out to meet him.
Goal No 101 and a welcome three points for City.

1920 crystal palace c

With the chasing pack closing on City’s Champions League place a win at home to Palace was a minimum requirement, but it may prove to be a turning point in City’s season. Just as a gift goal suddenly made Jamie Vardy look like his old self.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Söyüncü, Albrighton (Fuchs 75), Ndidi, Tielemans (Choudhury 89), Chilwell (Bennett 45), Pérez (Barnes 75), Iheanacho (Praet 64), Vardy.
Substitutes: Morgan, Gray, Ward, Mendy.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Sakho, van Aanholt (Mitchell 83), Ayew, McArthur (McCarthy 69), Milivojevic, Riedewald (Kouyaté 60), Zaha, Benteke (Townsend 82).
Substitutes: Dann, Meyer, Hennessey, Woods, Pierrick.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Leicester’s poor run continues at Goodison

Everton 2:1 Leicester City

Everton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

City’s grip on a Champions League place looks ever more tenuous after they failed to recover from a disastrous start at Goodison on Wednesday evening…

Brendan Rodgers made one change to his side for this 6pm kick off on Merseyside with Albrighton in for Pérez. Maddison had a place on the bench following a hip injury.
City went on the attack from the start and carved out a second minute chance. Tielemans beat his man and threaded a ball through to Vardy, but his first touch was heavy and allowed Digne to shield the ball back to Pickford.

Everton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

City continued to press forward with purpose, but this proved to be a false dawn, with Everton taking the lead with their first attack in the tenth minute.
Gordon’s low cross from the left saw Richarlison nip in ahead of Chilwell to sweep the ball home from eight yards.

Everton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

City attempted an instant reply, but Praet’s measured 20 yarder went narrowly wide, and a further set back came in the 13th minute. Sigurdsson delivered a free-kick from the left and Keane and Ndidi’s aerial challenge appeared to show both of them handling the ball in a tangle of arms. After an extraordinary number of replays over two and a half minutes VAR decided on a penalty.  Sigurdsson casually sent Schmeichel the wrong way from 12 yards and City were two down in the 16th minute.
It could have been worse in the 21st minute when Calvert-Lewin went over in the area after a Söyüncü challenge, but referee David Coote correctly judged that the striker had cut across the defender.
City were poor for the rest of the half, with a stream of crosses being easily dealt with by Keane. Only one clear chance was created but Vardy was denied by Pickford who got down well to his low shot.

Everton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

Brendan Rodgers made two changes for the second half with Maddison and Iheanacho on for Barnes and Praet, and there was a clear improvement.
However Everton had the first chance of the half with a Digne shot taking a deflection off Justin, causing Schmeichel to scramble across his goal to tip it round the post.

Everton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

But City had a bit more zip about them now and pulled a goal back in the 51st minute.
It wasn’t pretty. Tielemans floated a ball into the area, Vardy helped it on and Holgate’s attempted clearance struck Iheanacho on the head and nestled in the net. But they all count.
City had their tails up now and Everton suffered a further blow when Richarlison had to go off after a mistimed tackle from Ndidi caught him on the foot.
Maddison was causing Everton problems but still hasn’t found his shooting boots, beating three men before firing well over.
City then came within inches of an equaliser when a tame low cross from Albrighton was fumbled by Pickford. The loose ball struck Keane but the defender managed to recover and clear the ball off the line.

Everton FC v Leicester City - Premier League

City threatened again when Albrighton swung a cross to the far post and Vardy nodded it down to Iheanacho. He did well to flick the ball over Keane’s head Gazza-style but then sent his shot over the bar.
City were the better side, but time was running out and Rodgers made a double-sub for the last ten minutes: Gray and Perez on for Albrighton and Tielemans.
But Everton were closing the game out well and City’s chances were restricted. Vardy crossed from the left but Pérez’s first time shot was deflected wide.
With Everton being canny, City displayed a lack of common sense, summed up when Chilwell, in the 6th minute of six minutes time-added-on, played the ball backwards.
It was the last kick of the game, and despite a greatly improved second half showing City were still seeking their first win since the restart.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Digne, Iwobi (Mina 68), André Gomes, Sigurdsson, Gordon (Bernard 79), Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison (Davies 57).
Substitutes: Baines, Stekelenburg, Kean, Neves Virgínia, Branthwaite, Baningime.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell, Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 81), Praet (Maddison 45), Tielemans (Pérez 81), Barnes (Iheanacho 45), Vardy.
Substitutes: Morgan, Ward, Choudhury, Mendy, Fuchs.

Referee: David Coote.

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Chelsea ease Leicester out of the FA Cup again

Leicester City 0:1 Chelsea

1920 chelsea home fac

City couldn’t punish Chelsea for a woeful first half performance at the KPS on Sunday, and the familiar story of a quarter-final exit against the London side unfolded…

Brendan Rodgers, brought Praet in for the injured Maddison, and restored Barnes, Tielemans and Pérez back into his side. And they went at a Chelsea side leaning towards youth from the kick off. In the first minute a stray ball from Gilmour was pounced on by Barnes, who exchanged passes with Vardy but a heavy touch denied him from a good position.
With Chelsea’s passing out from the back failing to find a white shirt City were presented with several opportunities. Vardy had a low cross blocked and then a Gilmour error saw Tielemans striding through the middle, but his shot was tame and Caballero made an easy save.
Chelsea were hardly crossing the halfway line at this point, but Söyüncü managed to pick up a yellow card for clipping Pulisic, which ruled him out of a potential semi-final appearance.
During the drinks break Frank Lampard had some choice words to say and Chelsea improved at the restart. But City should have gone ahead in the 29th minute. Chilwell delivered a free-kick into the area and although Evans got goalside of Zouma, his header was poor and drifted wide.
A minute later good work from Mount teed up Pulisic, but his fierce strike from 12 yards was brilliantly tipped over by Schmeichel.
Barnes then found himself in a good position but shot wildly over when a pass to Vardy may have been a better option.
Just before Barnes sent Vardy in down the left but he didn’t connect properly and his shout bounced past the right hand post.

City had failed to take advantage of a poor Chelsea performance and Lampard wasn’t giving them a second chance. Three youngsters James, Gilmour and Mount, were replaced for the second half with Barkley, Azpilicueta and Kovacic and the tide swiftly turned.
Although Rudiger made an early mistake allowing Vardy in to shoot straight at Caballero, it was Chelsea who were in control now with City on the back foot.
Rodgers changed things round in the 57th minute with Praet and Perez making way for  Choudhury and Albrighton, but Chelsea took a 63rd minute lead. Willian delivered a cross from the right that dipped onto the toe of Barkley who guided it past Schmeichel from close in.
Chances were rare for City as Chelsea pressed forward, and a shot on the turn from Vardy was crowded out.
Barnes and Pérez were replaced by Gray and Albrighton in the 76th minute, and although Gray sprayed some decent passes about City weren’t really troubling the visitors at this stage.
The best chance came in the 85th minute when Albrighton delivered a cross to the far post for Söyüncü, but Azpilicueta did just enough to put him off. For some months now City’s headers from good positions have been failing to find the target.
City attempted to build up some pressure with time running out, but Chelsea broke upfield four against two. Some ponderous passing allowed the defence to regroup but Barkley still managed to connect with a well struck shot that Schmeichel did well to get a hand to and send over the bar.
There was one last chance for City but Ndidi sent a long range shot narrowly wide, and for the third time since 2012 City had been defeated by Chelsea at the quarter-final stage.
City still haven’t really started Project Restart and what promised to be an incredible season is fading away.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell, Ndidi, Pérez (Albrighton 57), Praet (Choudhury 57), Tielemans, Barnes (Gray 76), Vardy.
Substitutes: Morgan, Ward, Iheanacho, Meny, Fuchs, Bennett.
Chelsea: Caballero, James (Azpilicueta 45), Rüdiger, Zouma, Emerson, Mount (Barkley 45), Kanté, Gilmour (Kovacic 45). Willian (Pedro 78), Abraham, Pulisic (Loftus-Cheek 72).
Substitutes: Arrizabalaga, Alonso, Jorginho, Giroud.

Referee: Mike Dean.

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Leicester and Brighton play out stalemate in the sun

Leicester City 0:0 Brighton & Hove Albion

1920 brighton home

The fans were missing from the King Power Stadium, but they didn’t miss much as the Foxes and Seagulls cancelled each other out on Tuesday night.

Perhaps with one eye on Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final Brendan Rodgers made three changes to his side with Tielemans, Albrighton and Barnes replaced by Gray, Mendy and Iheanacho.
This line-up looked a bit disjointed and Brighton did most of the attacking in the early stages. But they missed a chance to take a 13th minute lead. Justin and Connolly chased a ball into the penalty area and got into a tangle. Lee Mason’s penalty decision looked harsh on the youngster but VAR backed it up. Maupay’s penalty was placed too close to Schmeichel who got down well to gather it into his arms.
The visitors continued to press forward before the game ground to a halt. Webster and Lamptey both received lengthy treatment for injuries before an early drinks break was called.
As play recommenced Connolly had a good chance from close in, but a late lunge from Söyüncü was just enough to put him off.
At the end Vardy, with his second touch of the ball in thirty minutes, sent a gentle header straight into Ryan’s arms.
Five minutes before the break Vardy got another touch when Ryan managed to throw the ball behind himself but he managed to make amends with a block.
Just before the break Söyüncü headed wide when a deflected Ndidi shot came at him at pace, but there was no disguising the fact that it had been Brighton’s half.

Things could only get better, and they did. City had a huge amount of possession and gradually turned this into chances. A weak clearance fell for Chilwell, who snatched a lame effort wide with his right foot.
Maddison then played a one-two with Iheanacho before firing a 20 yarder over the bar.
A minute later Vardy pulled a ball back for Ndidi but he was shoved into the back by Stephens before he could line up a shot and Lee Mason waved play on.
Brendan Rodgers made a double substitution in the 69th minute bringing Tielemans and Barnes on for Iheanacho and Mendy as the second drinks break was taken.
A further change was made with Pérez on for Gray and City took complete charge of the closing stages. But they couldn’t find away through. Maddison, set up by Vardy, blazed a shot high and wide. He then fired a 25 yard free-kick over the bar.
Having missed their chance to take the lead, Brighton were very much set up to defend a point now. A clever cross from Barnes almost reached Pérez lurking at the far post, but Burn managed to intercept it.
In time-added-on-for-drinks-breaks Maddison whipped in a cross from the right, Vardy nodded on and it struck Dunk’s outstretched arm. But Lee Mason and VAR were feeling charitable and there was to be no late winner for City.

It was a good game to miss, but these are difficult times, as Brendan Rodgers explained:
“The team showed a good level of fitness and were able to sustain the attacks and it just felt like it was goal was coming, but it wasn’t to be. But the players, I commend them, because it’s so difficult. We clearly haven’t found the rhythm of our game yet, but we’re trying and fighting at every opportunity to get the results that we want. We couldn’t quite make the breakthrough this evening.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell, Gray (Pérez 73), Mendy (Tielemans 69), Ndidi, Maddison, Vardy, Iheanacho (Barnes 69).
Substitutes: Morgan, Albrighton, Ward, Choudhury, Praet, Fuchs.
Brighton: Ryan, Lamptey, Webster (Duffy 24), Dunk, Burn, Bissouma (Pröpper 58), Stephens, Mooy, MacAllister (March 58), Connolly (Murray 82), Maupay (Trossard 57). Substitutes: Groß, Schelotto, Montoya, Button.

Referee: Lee Mason.

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Vardy and Barnes net two apiece as Leicester thrash Villa

Leicester City 4:0 Aston Villa

Leicester City v Aston Villa - Premier League

City returned to winning ways at the KPS on Monday night, with Jamie Vardy ending his goal drought in a 4-0 win…

Brendan Rodgers made two changes to his starting line-up with Justin in for the injured Chilwell and Barnes replacing Gray. Vardy was declared fit, but took a place on the bench.
It was a typical 2020 scene with the coronavirus ‘no handshake’ rule kicking in and constant rain.
Although City had most of the possession in a scrappy opening spell it was Villa who created the first chance in the 6th minute. Grealish sent Targett down the flank and he delivered a dangerous low cross which Hourihane made a hash of from a great position.
Two minutes later Villa went close again when Samatta slid in at the far post to meet a free-kick but couldn’t produce a finish.
These near misses fired City up and they enjoyed a period of pressure.
A Ricardo cross was met by Engels, who headed narrowly wide of his own goal. From the corner Evans rose above the Villa defence to produce a thumping downward header which Reina managed to parry away, Barnes nodding the rebound over the bar.

1920 aston villa home d

The impressive Justin then went on a strong run down the left, earning a corner off Mings’ chest. Maddison’s flag-kick found Söyüncü unmarked at the far post but he blazed his header over.
Justin then burst into Villa’s area, but Guilbert brought him down, just getting enough ball to avoid a penalty.
City had Villa penned in their own half at the half hour stage and won a series of corners. One was played short back to Ricardo who swung a dangerous ball into the goalmouth. Iheanacho timed his run well but got his header all wrong sending it wide from 6 yards. The increasingly influential Praet then played Barnes in down the left, but his attempt to catch Reina out with a shot from wide was easily saved.
With missed chances mounting up there was some concern we might see a repeat of the Carabao Cup semi-final, but City went ahead five minutes before the break.
City won the ball on the edge of their area and some smart footwork from Albrighton gave him some space to deliver a fine ball down the left. Barnes hared after it, but Reina had made a terrible decision to race 40 yards out of his goal. Barnes touched the ball round him before stroking the ball past the covering Mings from the edge of the area.
It was a moment of madness from the Villa keeper, who didn’t need to come out with plenty of defenders around.
Hourihane then blatantly dragged Ricardo to the ground as City threatened to break and picked up a yellow card.
City deservedly took the lead in with them at the break with Villa offering nothing going forward after their early chances.

City should have gone two-up a minute after the restart when a Justin header sent Iheanacho through a big gap in Villa’s defence, but Reina stuck out a leg to block a shot that lacked venom.
In a rare foray upfield for Villa Hourihane sent a shot over the bar.
Maddison then set up Iheanacho in front of goal, but his first touch was heavy and the chance was gone.
It was Iheanacho who made way when Brendan Rodgers made his first change on the hour, Vardy being given a hero’s welcome onto the field. And it only took him two minutes to end his goal drought.
Justin delivered a ball down the inside channel to Barnes who cut in and attempted a pass across the area which Mings intercepted with his upper arm. Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and VAR agreed. Vardy, with his first touch of the game, planted it down the middle as Reina dived right.

Leicester City v Aston Villa - Premier League

Two minutes after the penalty City should have had another one when Maddison was barged over in the area by Hourihane, but neither the ref or VAR appeared to register the fact.
A scrappy period of play followed with Michael Oliver enraging the home crowd as Grealish was guaranteed a free-kick every time he fell over.
Praet picked up a yellow card and was replaced by Tielemans.
Villa managed their first shot on target in the 79th minute but Schmeichel easily held  Guilbert’s effort.
Seconds later City sealed the game with a third. Sterling work from Evans at the back saw him block a couple of chances and City broke upfield, Barnes feeding Vardy on the left. His attempted cutback was blocked by Guilbert, but the rebound sat up nicely for him to lash in a shot which beat Reina at his near post.
With the game won Ndidi was replaced by Mendy.
City had blood in their nostrils now and were constantly pressing forward, getting a fourth in the 85th minute.
A neat passing move down the right saw Albrighton cross from the left and Barnes met it with a fine finish that found the narrow gap between Reina and the right hand post.
Tielemans, Maddison and Albrighton all sent shots over before the full time whistle heralded the end of the best display in quite a while.

Leicester City v Aston Villa - Premier League

Now able to feel the hot breath of the pursuing pack on their necks, it was a good time to return to the pre-Christmas form that had cemented them in the Champions League zone.
Brendan Rodgers was delighted: “It was a very, very good win. An important win. The past few games we haven’t been at our level. In terms of attacking, we were much better this evening. After the first goal we went on and played very well. Tonight the intensity was there and we didn’t give away too much.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Söyüncü, Justin, Ndidi (Mendy 83), Albrighton, Praet (Tielemans 76), Maddison, Barnes, Iheanacho (Vardy 59).
Substitutes: Morgan, Ward, Pérez, Fuchs.
Aston Villa: Reina, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, El Mohamady (El Ghazi 63), Douglas Luiz, Hourihane (Davis 67), Grealish, Samatta.
Substitutes: Taylor, Drinkwater, Konsa, Trézéguet, Nyland.

Referee: Michael Oliver. Attendance: 32,125.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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