Leicester City trounced Fleetwood Town 4-0 last night at the King Power to kick off our Carabao Cup campaign. Goals from Christian Fuch, Vicente Iborra, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Rachid Ghezzal gave City a comfortable and well-deserved victory. The result sees the Foxes through to the 3rd round of the Cup against a to-be-determined opponent.
On paper, Leicester were heavily favored, but the Foxes have played to the level of their competition in recent years. The last time Leicester lost a League Cup match in regular time was against a 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury in the 2nd round at the King Power in 2014. Nothing should ever be taken for granted in a cup tie.
City manager Claude Puel rang in the changes, retaining only three players from the side that defeated Southampton 2-1 on Saturday. Danny Ward made his debut for the Foxes in goal behind Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, Wes Morgan, and Christian Fuchs. The four man midfield consisted of Vicente Iborra and Adrien Silva in the middle, with Rachid Ghezzal and Marc Albrighton on the right and left wings respectively. Kelechi Iheancho retained his place in the team, partnering with Shinji Okazaki in attack.
In spite of the strong lineup fielded by the hosts, Fleetwoood Town started the match on the front foot. The Cod earned an early corner that was well cleared by Iborra, but the visitors retained possession and Harrison Biggins tested Ward on only the 2nd minute, but the former Liverpool keeper did well to keep it out of the net.
Leicester began to catch up to the pace of the match and were soon leaving the Cod chasing shadows. City won a free kick on 6’, which Ghezzal whipped on the head of Evans, whose shot was put out for a corner. The first ball was cleared, but, shades of Crystal Palace, Fuchs volleyed the ball powerfully into the back of the net, giving Leicester a 1-0 lead.
Couldn’t agree more, but I don’t think that hashtag is going to catch on.
The hosts were now moving the ball around briskly and threatening to score every time they touched the ball. Iheanacho looked lively throughout and rattled the post on 9’. He, Silva, and Fuchs all went close over the next twenty minutes, but the Cod stood firm , but were finally breached right before the half. Fuchs got in behind the defense and stood up a beautiful ball that Iborra attacked with a header to double the lead.
Leicester almost got another when Albrighton got away from the defense on the left wing. His low cross was just a hair beyond the outstretched leg of Iheanacho. City got another chance deep into injury time when Fuchs once again got the better of his man and whipped in a cross that either Okazaki or Iheanacho could have turned into the net, but neither could quite get the final touch right. 2-0 to the Foxes at the half.
Leicester kept the pressure on right from the restart and were up 3-0 before most of the fans had returned to their seats. A ball over the top released Iheanacho behind the Fleetwood defense and the Nigeria man made no mistake and finally got the goal he richly deserved.
That was Iheanacho’s final contribution as he made way for Demarai Gray before the 50’ mark. The former Birminham City man was forced wide by the keeper, but his low cross was behind Okazaki and the chance was lost. Leicester were back on the attack immediately, with Ghezzal cutting inside and attempting a curling effort that looked very, very familiar, but alas, it was just wide.
I hate to sound blasé about this, but it continued like this for some time. Filip Benković came on to replace Morgan on the hour mark. Leicester were having all of the possession and all of the opportunities with visitors struggling to get out of their own area. The commentators noted that “this one has the feel of a training session,” which makes it sound less exciting than it was, but it’s an accurate account of the one-sided nature of the traffic.
It was only a matter of time, then, before the Foxes would extend their lead, and when they did so, they did so in spectacular fashion. Rachid Ghezzal had been tremendously impressive throughout the evening, so it was only fitting that he got his maiden goal for the club this evening. It was a beauty, too. Cutting in from the right, he moved across the area and unleashed a curler that left the keeper no hope. It’s the sort of thing that would make one forget about Riyad Mahrez if it didn’t remind us so much of him.
GOOALLL— Leicester City News (@_LCFCNEWS) August 28, 2018
Algerian Ghezzal scores his first and Leicester’s fourth with a brilliant strike!
Ghezzal was rewarded for his display by coming off to an enthusiastic ovation. Fousseni Diabaté came on as the final Leicester substitute. As the game entered its final quarter-hour, the foot finally started to come off the pedal and Fleetwood Town enjoyed their first extended spell of possession.
Lest anyone accuse me of being “anti-Leicester” because my reports on the last two victories were less-than-flattering, I want to be perfectly clear: This was a fantastic performance. It’s easy to say that, as Fleetwood Town are a League One side, you’d expect Leicester to handle them easily. However, you’d only say that if you’d never seen a League Cup tie and watched City struggle to break down teams a rung or two down the ladder. The Cod forced a replay in the FA Cup just 8 months ago, and our 2-0 win at home was nowhere near as impressive as this.
It’s hard to name any standouts in defense as the defense had little to cope with. That’s not quite accurate; Christian Fuch had an absolutely brilliant match, but he didn’t have a whole lot of defending to do. However, there are a cornucopia of players worth of mention in attack. Every attacking player impressed. Yes, literally every one. I love being able to write that.
Leicester City face Liverpool in the early match on Saturday morning at the King Power. Expect to see a changed lineup, but maybe not quite as changed as it would have been before this match. Did someone say “team-selection headache?”