Leicester City are through to the League Cup quarterfinal after a 3-1 win over League One Burton Albion. Kelechi Iheancho opened the scoring early on, followed by the always impressive Youri Tielemans. The Brewers made it close through Liam Boyce, but James Maddison killed it off with Leicester’s third late on.
Brendan Rodgers made a highly thematic 9 changes to Friday’s lineup, with Danny Ward in goal, behind a back four of James Justin, Wes Morgan, Jonyn Evans and Christian Fuchs. Youri Tielemans kept his place in midfield, alongside Dennis Praet and Hamza Choudhury. The front three were Demarai Gray, Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheancho.
The Brewers set out to press with an impressive intensity, causing a few loose passes early on. It also left plenty of space in behind and Tielemans found Iheancho over the top in the 5th minute, but the out of favour striker couldn’t find the net.
Only two minutes later, the Foxes were ahead. This time it was Tielemans played in behind by Demarai Gray. His pull back found Iheanacho in all kinds of space, and this time the Nigerian made no mistake, giving Leicester an early 1-0 lead.
Burton came back into the game over the next 10 minutes, though Wes Morgan came to the rescue with a great covering tackle to prevent their best chance. The hosts were left to rue the missed opportunity in the 20th minute when Youri Tielemans doubled the lead.
Again it was Gray to start the move, this time sliding Dennis Praet in down the right. The newly capped Belgian pulled it back to his international teammate on the edge of the box and Youri finished in his usual calm style.
Burton continued to come forward and it could have been 3-0 in the 30th minute; Gray set off yet another dangerous attack, this time getting the return ball from Iheanacho, but he couldn’t find the target.
From there, the game settled down and looked fairly comfortable until Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead got two shots away just before half time. Danny Ward was equal to them though, and the Foxes took their 2-0 lead into the break.
The hosts kept up their pressing style and were were rewarded in the 52nd minute, pulling it back to 2-1 aided by some less than impressive Leicester defending. A couple of failed clearances gave Boyce a chance from the edge of the area. He hit it well, but it was barely to the side of Danny Ward, who should have done better with it.
The goal might have shaken the Foxes a bit, and Burton started to come right back into the game. Over the next 15 minutes, the hosts were arguably the better side, and would have been level in the 58th minute if not for a goal line clearance by Hamza Choudhury.
Looking to reclaim the initiative in the 66th minute, Rodgers brought Harves Barnes on for a tiring Iheanacho, who’s second half performance had dropped off from the first. Emergency striker Demarai Gray moved up front.
Undeterred, Burton pushed on and again nearly pulled level, denied only by a fantastic save from Danny Ward in the 73rd minute. Shortly after, Barnes’ added threat appeared to have paid off when he found the net, but it was ruled out for offside.
Gray and Albrighton were still causing problems for the Brewers, and Rodgers seemed to have a 3rd goal on his mind, bringing on James Maddison for Dennis Praet in the 83rd minute.
The chances were still coming at the other end, though. Morgan and Choudhury put in some important tackles, but Oliver Sarkic should have had an equaliser, blasting over in the 85th minute. Rodgers responded by bringing Wilfred Ndidi into the fray to replace Choudhury.
In the 89th minute, the Foxes finally put the game away. Demarai Gray topped off a very good performance with his first assist, picking out James Maddison in the middle of the area for an easy third goal. A minute later Gray rounded the keeper, but was denied by a goal line clearance.
From there it was only the Foxes’ game, and they saw out a 3-1 win. It looked a little worrisome at times, but the most important thing is that they found a way to get it done.