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Leicester undone by set-pieces at Watford

Watford 2:1 Leicester City

1718 watford away a

City’s problems in defending set-pieces led to defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day….

Claude Puel made four changes to his side, with Chilwell, King and Okazaki in for Fuchs,  Iborra and Gray, while Dragovic was handed a full Premier League debut in place of the injured Simpson.
For most of the first half this line-up had the measure of a Watford side who had lost their last four games. But it was a scrappy and physical game that saw Maguire, Watson and Kabasele all booked within the first 12 minutes.
The first chance to emerge from the midfield morass arrived in the 17th minute when Chilwell delivered a cross from the right, Okazaki rose above his marker to nod an on-target effort, but Gomes reacted well to tip it over the bar.
In the 19th minute Albrighton injured himself in committing a foul, but was able to continue with a bandaged head. Five minutes later he played a fine through ball to send Vardy in on goal, but the England striker sent his shot wide of the left hand post with only Gomes to beat.
Albrighton was then the architect of City’s goal when they took a 37th minute lead, twisting and turning down the left to get room for a cross which saw Mahrez ghosting in at the far post to head home.
This finally prodded Watford into life and they should have equalised two minutes later but, having rounded Schmeichel, Richarlison sent his shot into the side-netting.
However, the Hornets went in level at the break, as City failed to defend a corner.
Cleverley’s flag-kick from the left saw a scramble 8 yards out and the ball fell for former City-loanee Wagué, completely unmarked at the far post, and he had the easy task of slotting the ball home.
In time-added-on Watford almost snatched the lead, but a good move ended with Richarlison smacking his shot against the post.

Watford’s improvement continued into the second half, and City were restricted to counter attacks, with the final ball lacking.
The decisive moment of the game arrived in the 65th minute. A Cleverley free-kick from the right sailed beyond the far post, where Doucouré stretched to make contact on the touchline. The ball was heading across goal, but Schmeichel’s touch sent it over the line.
Claude Puel brought Slimani and Gray on for Okazaki and Dragovic in the 73rd minute.
When this didn’t improve matters he threw another striker on, Ulloa for King with six minutes to go.
City finally applied some proper pressure, but Gomes pulled off a couple of fine saves. From a Mahrez corner the ball sat up for Morgan six yards out, but his shot was blocked at point blank range by the Watford keeper. Moments later, following another corner, he got down well to tip an Ulloa header away.
That was City’s last throw of the dice, and familiar failings – now 13 goals of 30 conceded from set-pieces – had cost them again.
Another stat showed City’s miserable run of Boxing Day games – one win the the last 12 at this level.

Claude Puel commented: “We need to correct this. We need good attention and have to focus on second balls and mark well. When you lose a game like this, it’s a big frustration.”

 Watford: Gomes, Janmaat, Wagué, Kabasele, Zeegelaar, Cleverley, Watson (Prödl 87), Doucouré, Carrillo (Sinclair 90), Richarlison, Pereyra (Okaka 44).
Substitutes: Gray, Holebas, CapoueBachmann.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Dragovic (Gray 73), Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, King (Ulloa 84), Mahrez, Okazaki (Slimani 73), Albrighton, Vardy.
Substitutes: Hamer, James, Fuchs, Benalouane.

Referee: C Kavanagh. Attendance: 20,308.


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Leicester feel Hornets sting

Watford 2:1 Leicester City


City’s poor run continued at Vicarage Road, where Watford were 2-0 up by the 12th minute on Saturday afternoon…

Claudio Ranieri brought Vardy, Amartey and Albrighton back into a starting line-up that looked like last season’s title winners, minus Schmeichel and Kante.
But the team sheet was where the similarity ended,  as City found themselves a goal down after 32 seconds. Pereyra crossed from the left, Deeney nodded on with a delicate header into the path of Capoue, who sent his first time effort into the turf and up beyond Zieler’s reach.
If this stunned the Champions, worse was to come in the 12th minute when the hosts went further ahead. Pereyra cut in from the left, stepped round Drinkwater and curled a sublime shot into the top right hand corner.


This stung City into a reaction and they were awarded a penalty after a quarter of an hour.
Britos bundled Vardy over with a clumsy challenge and Mahrez halved the deficit from 12 yards.
The rest of the half was a complete scrap, with neither side able to string three passes together and some niggly challenges. Chances were few and far between, with a Huth header over the bar being City’s closest effort.
City still trailed at the break, but had been the better side in the later stages of the half.


The second half was equally scrappy, as City pursued an equaliser and Watford, on the back of a 6-1 defeat at Anfield, were grimly determined to hang on to the win.
Pereyra had the goal at his mercy with a close range header, but sent it too close to Zieler who pulled off a good save to keep City in the game.
As the clock ticked down, City attacked down the flanks through Mahrez and then Gray, but they lacked the aerial presence in the middle and several crosses were headed clear or easily caught by Gomes.
Schlupp was also brought on and delivered two decent cut-backs from the left, but fellow-sub Musa failed to take advantage when well placed.
Referee Neil Swarbrick didn’t help City’s cause. A free-kick was awarded against Huth for getting his head to a cross, and Vardy was also penalised after a race to a loose ball ended with a 50-50 challenge  between him and Gomes.


Several shots from the edge of the area were blocked by a yellow wall and there were loud appeals for handball from the away section on three occasions, though all of them were for hard shots from close-range.
Watford survived a frantic late spell, though Gomes didn’t have a shot to save, and City paid for their slow start with another defeat.

Claudio Ranieri remained positive: “Watford scored two fantastic goals and then we did a very fantastic reaction, Gomes didn’t make any saves but I think until the end we had a chance to score a goal because the team was alive. But against us today there was a big wall to stop all our shots at goal. We lost the match but the spirit is high. I’m proud of them.”

Despite the Premier League struggles, City could qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night, and Ranieri needs to keep the mood buoyant.

Watford: Gomes, Britos, Kaboul, Prodl, Amrabat (Guedioura 86), Deeney (Okaka 90), Behrami, Zuniga, Janmaat, Capoue, Pereyra. Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Mariappa, Sinclair, Watson, Ighalo. 
Leicester: Zieler, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs (Schlupp 68), Drinkwater, Amartey, Mahrez, Albrighton (Musa 78), Okazaki (Gray 68), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Hamer, Hernández, Wasilewski, King. 
Referee: N Swarbrick. Attendance: 20,640. 
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 


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Leicester go five points clear with win at Watford

Watford 0:1 Leicester City

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A sublime Mahrez moment saw City go five points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a 1-0 win at Vicarage Road…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his side with Kanté returning from injury earlier than expected and King making way.
With Spurs and Arsenal drawing in the lunchtime kick-off, City had a chance to put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack and they started the game with some intent.
From a quickly taken corner from the right, the ball made its way through to Fuchs on the edge of the area. The Austrian’s well-struck shot was saved by Gomes and Ake got to the rebound just before the onrushing Okazaki.
At the other end Ake rose above Morgan to get his head to a free-kick, but it brushed the top of the crossbar.
In a fast and furious midfield battle chances didn’t come too often. Vardy managed to break through down the left, but his early shot flew harmlessly across the face of goal.
Mahrez and Vardy combined well on the break in the 22nd minute, but Vardy sent his stabbed effort just wide of the right hand post.
The Hornets’ best move of the half came five minutes later but as the ball arrived in the area Amrabat had his shot blocked by Morgan and then Deeney’s follow-up deflected off Simpson and straight into Schmeichel’s grasp.
Morgan was involved in the final two chances of the half: heading a Simpson cross straight at Gomes; and then leaving a header back to Schmeichel a little short so the City keeper had to race out to beat Deeney to the ball.
The whistle ended a strange half that had seen a relentless battle for possession on a slippery surface, with neither keeper being over-employed.

Claudio Ranieri made two changes at the break, with Schlupp and King on for Albrighton and Okazaki.
Although Watford had the first chance of the half, when Saurez broke through the middle and fired off a shot that was deflected towards Scmeichel, it was City who broke the deadlock in the 56th minute.

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It was another Mahrez moment to add to the collection.
A big, swinging cross from the left from Fuchs was headed clear only as far Mahrez, who took a touch to improve his angle before finding the top left hand corner with a sweet shot.
The away section went mad, as the players went over to celebrate with them.
With the Leicester fans roaring “We shall not be moved!”, Huth then forced a save from Gomes after getting his head t0 a Kanté cross from the right.
Vardy then broke down the left but his shot was blocked on the line with a cool backheel from Ake.
Amrabat nipped ahead of Fuchs in the area, but his shot on the turn went straight at Schmeichel, though City were looking more in control of the game in this half.
Mahrez ducked round three defenders before curling in a shot that was placed too close to Gomes; and then Huth sent a header from a Fuchs free kick narrowly wide.
Although they couldn’t find a second goal, City were comfortable as they saw the game out, the only anxious moment coming when Mahrez suddenly pulled up mid-run, but this turned out to be cramp, rather than a hamstring.
He was replaced by Amartey with five minutes to go, and the late substitute produced a fine square ball for Schlupp, who blasted his shot wide of the left hand post.
With seconds to go, a Watford free-kick brought back memories of the Emirates, but Watson sent it sailing out of play.

The final whistle ended the latest chapter of City incredible 2015-16 story, as they went five points clear with 9 games remaining.
If the press boys were getting carried away, asking Claidio Ranieri if he was looking forward to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid coming to the KPS next season, our manager was keeping his feet on the ground: “Yes, why not? But I imagine Newcastle now.”
Whatever happens next weekend, City will still be top by the time they face Newcastle on Monday…

Watford: Gomes, Nyom (Anya 81), Britos, Suarez (Abdi 64), Prodl, Deeney, Amrabat, Ake, Watson, Ighalo, Capoue (Oulare 87). Subs Not Used: Pantilimon, Behrami, Guedioura, Holebas.
Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Mahrez (Amartey 85), Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton (King 46); Okazaki (Schlupp 46), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Gray, Ulloa, Wasilewski, Schwarzer.

Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 20,884.


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Leicester Draw Hornets Sting

Watford 0:3 Leicester City

1314 watford away

City exorcised the ghosts of last May’s play-off semi final with a superb 3-0 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday…

Nigel Pearson handed starting places to Wood and Schlupp, with Vardy and Konchesky both suffering hamstring strains.

After a lively opening exchange City enjoyed a huge slice of luck in the 10 minute that gifted them the lead. An Anya backpass shouldn’t have given Hornets keeper Almunia any problems but he slightly miscued his clearance, striking the onrushing Wood in the face. The ball rebounded instantly into the net for an unlikely opener.
There were few chances in a tight encounter for a while, although Dyer and Wood both had the ball in the net only to be denied by the linesman’s flag for offside.
Schmeichel then produced a smart double save from McGugan, and Wasilewski nodded a Knockaert corner narrowly over, before City went in at the break with a narrow lead.
Nine minutes into the second half it was City who got the all-important second goal. Great work from Schlupp down the left saw him beat two players before teeing up Knockaert for an emphatic strike past Almunia. His celebrations in front of the City fans could hardly have been in greater contrast to the scenes following his penalty miss,  and they earned him a booking.
The lively Forestieri seemed to be Watford’s best chance of a route back into the game, but a series of chances for the Italian saw a block by Wasilewski; an off target effort, and a great save from Schmeichel.
In the 65th minute Pearson shored things up a little bringing James on for Wood and leaving Nugent on his own up front.
But Watford weren’t troubling City greatly and off-target efforts from Anya and Deeney was the best they could manage before City wrapped up the game in the  87th minute.
Substitute Taylor-Fletcher sent Dyer in with a neat through ball and although the winger’s shot hit Almunia it looped up and into the net to send the visiting fans into further celebrations.

The three points briefly saw City level on points with leaders Burnley, as this season continues to progress in a highly satisfactory way.

Watford: Almunia, Doyley (Cassetti 61), Angella, Ekstrand, Anya, McGugan, McEachran, Murray (Fabbrini 46), Pudil (Faraoni 72), Deeney, Forestieri. Subs Not Used: Bond, Iriney, Battocchio, Acuna.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Moore, Wasilewski, Morgan, Schlupp, Knockaert (Hammond 75), Drinkwater, King, Dyer, Nugent (Taylor-Fletcher 82), Wood (James 66). Subs Not Used: Hopper, Bakayogo, Miquel, Logan.

Referee: Roger East. Attendance: 16,011.

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Leicester Miss Out in Dramatic Finale

Watford 3:1 Leicester City

1213 watford away po a

City missed out on a Wembley Play-Off final in the most agonising way possible at Vicarage Road when Troy Deeney smashed home the decisive goal for Watford, seconds after Anothony Knockeart’s penalty miss in the 7th minute of injury time…

Nigel Pearson fielded an unchanged side again and City pressed forward right from the kick off gaining three corners in quick succession.  Knockaert’s flag-kick found De Laet at the near post but his was blocked by Deeney.
But Watford looked dangerous going forward and a ball over the defence from Deeney set Vydra up but he snatched and missed the target as he had done in the first leg.
The lively Deeney then tested Schmeichel with a shot from the edge of the area.
This good spell for the Hornets was capped with a 15th minute opener, Vydra making no mistake this time with a stunning volley to square the tie.  However City responded well to this set back and hit back with an equaliser just four minutes later.
James’ corner found Nugent at the far post and he sent a header beyond Almunia’s reach to restore City’s lead in the tie.
Deeney then forced another save from Schmeichel while Knockeart fired an effort over the bar.
City had preserved their advantage up to the three-quarter mark, and were 45 minutes from Wembley.

Early in the second half Knockaert sent a free kick narrowly over the bar and then a Nugent header went straight to Almunia.
On the hour both sides made a chance with swapping Kane for Wood and Zola introducing Forestieri for Doyley with more accent on attack.
It soon paid off for the home side when Vydra exchanged passes with Deeney before sending a precise low shot past Schmeichel to level the tie.
Pearson then brought Drinkwater on for Dyer.
The game entered a nervy last twenty minutes… Battocchio was denied by Schmeichel while Nugent and Kane both wasted well placed free-kicks sending them sailing over the crossbar.
As the 90 minutes came up Watford began to turn on the pressure, but this was broken up somewhat by a lengthy spell of treatment and it was City who were presented with a girt-wrapped ticket to Wembley with 97 minutes on the clock.
Knockaert surged into the penalty area on the right and went down under a challenge from Chalobah. It may have been a little harsh, but after a couple of seconds thought Michael Oliver pointed to the spot.

1213 watford away po b
Knockeart’s spot kick was saved by Almunia, who also managed to block the Frenchman’s follow up effort.
To add insult to injury Watford then charged upfield, Forestieri floated a cross over from the right, Hogg nodded it back and smashed it into the net, sending Watford to Wembley seconds after the ball had been on their penalty spot.

It was a dramatic and devastating end to a season, but in truth on the day and over the campaign as a whole, Nigel Pearson’s man had fallen short.

Watford: Almunia, Deeney, Doyley (Forestieri 65), Briggs, Vydra, Anya, Abdi, Cassetti, Battocchio (Hogg 79), Chalobah, Ekstrand. Unused Subs: Bond, Eustace, Hall, Pudil, Geijo.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, King, Dyer (Drinkwater 67), Keane, James, Schlupp, Knockaert, Nugent, Wood (Kane 61). Unused Subs: Logan, Konchesky, Marshall, Vardy, Moore.

Referee: Michael Oliver. Attendance: 16,142.

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City Stung by Hornets

Watford 3:2 Leicester City

City’s play-off hopes look ever more distant after a 3-2 defeat at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night.
An unchanged City set out looking for their first back-to-back wins in a year, but suffered an early setback. In the 5th minute a Peltier fouled Garner on the left. Murray swung in a free-kick that was glanced beyond Schmeichel by the head of Mariappa.
Six minutes later City were level when Nugent cut in from the left and beat Loach with an accurate drive, Beckford helping to distract the keeper. 
By the 18th minute the 1,400 City fans were celebrating again as Beckford and Nugent, showing an increasing understanding, combined to give City the lead.  Beckford’s flick to Nugent on the edge of the area set him up nicely for a full-blooded half-volley that flew past Loach.
Drinkwater then went close as City pushed forward looking to extend their lead.
However, the teams would go in level at the break after a Watford enjoyed a slice of luck. A Murray free-kick took a big deflection off the wall, leaving Schmeichel stranded.
Nigel Pearson brought on Morgan for Peltier and Danns for Drinkwater at the start of the second half as the game tightened up.
St Ledger, now operating down the right, capped a good run with a fine cross but Beckford missed a big opportunity to regain the lead for City.
Loach was tested by efforts from Beckford and Gallagher, and Morgan went close with a header, before the home side began to gain the upper hand in the final twenty minutes.
Eustace almost caught Schmeichel out with a chip but the Dane managed to reach it after some furious back-pedalling.
The decisive moment of the game arrived with ten minutes to go, when substitute Forsyth fired home a low shot from 18 yards.
City desperately tried to find a leveller but Wellens sent an effort off target before some late controversy.
Nosworthy tripped Beckford just inside the area, but Doyley was shown the red card and referee David Webb awarded a free-kick on the 18 yard line.
Gallagher could not repeat his trick against Cardiff and City’s league season was all but over.
A bullish Pearson did not agree:  “I’ve just told the players that I don’t want to hear anybody talking about the season being over. It doesn’t enter my mindset as far as I’m concerned and I don’t expect anybody else within our ranks to be talking in those terms as well.”

Watford: Loach, Hodson, Nosworthy, Mariappa, Doyley, Murray (Forsyth 46), Eustace, Hogg, Kacaniklic (Dickinson 90+4), Iwelumo, Garner (Buaben 81). Unused subs: Gilmartin, Yeates.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Peltier (Morgan 46), Mills, St Ledger, Konchesky, Gallagher, Wellens, Drinkwater (Danns 46), Dyer (Howard 85), Nugent, Beckford. Unused subs: Logan, Marshall.

Referee: David Webb (CountryDurham). Attendance: 11,800.

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City Feel Sting in Hornet’s Tail

Watford 3:2 Leicester City

City suffered a needless 3-2 reverse at Vicarage Road on Saturday, due to a combination of defensive errors and wasted chances… 

An unchanged City looked very hesitant in the opening stages of this game, played out in pouring rain.
Watford had already had a couple of far post chances before they took a 15th minute lead. A Mutch corner from the right found Eustace in a crowded penalty area, but he had time to prod the ball past Weale.
Seven minutes later it got worse for City when a ball forward saw Buckley outrunning City’s backline; Weale came out to challenge but missed and Buckley had the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.  
City almost went 3-0 down when Davies blocked a Graham effort, in what must have been their worst performance since Eriksson took the reins.
Wellens forced Loach into a good save but City had little else to show for their efforts at the half time whistle.

Things could only get better in the second half, and they did.
City took control of the game and had pulled a goal back within five minutes of the restart.
Taylor handled a Naughton cross near the byeline and under th enoses of the 2,200 City fans. Their instant and unanimous “HANDBALL!” shout may have helped convince referee Kevin Wright to point to the spot.
Gallagher did the job from 12 yards, blasting his spot-kick into top right hand corner.
Gallagher should have levelled soon after this but fired his shot too close to Loach when sent clear on goal, and again when he got his head to a cross close in but sent it straight at the Hornet’s keeper.
Then Howard, on for Bednar, also headed straight at Loach when well placed.
In the 69th minute Gallagher finally got his second. City won a free-kick 22 yards out and Gallagher lifted it over the wall into the bottom left hand corner with Loach, caught a little out of position, being glared at by his defence.
The rest of the game saw some end to end stuff, with defences getting stretched. Doyley was foiled by a brave Weale save, while Abe sent an acrobatical overhead kick over the bar.
It was Watford who dug deepest and summoned up a winner in the 85th minute. A swinging cross from Mutch was headed beyond Weale from close in the spark some joyous celebrations among the home fans.
City couldn’t find a way through in five minutes time-added-on and were beaten by a side who wanted it more, and took their chances…

Watford: Loach, Doyley, Taylor, Taylor, Mariappa, Eustace, McGinn (Sordell 79 (Massey 88)), Cowie, Mutch, Buckley (Deeney 56), Graham. Subs Not Used: Gilmartin, Bennett, Jenkins, Hodson.
Leicester: Weale, Davies, Hobbs, Naughton, King (Oakley 63), Abe, Wellens, Cunningham, Gallagher, Vassell (Waghorn 77), Bednar (Howard 58). Subs Not Used: Dyer, Logan, Vitor, Morrison.
Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire). Attendance: 14,449.

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