Leicester City fell to Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday morning. A late James Maddison goal canceled a first-half strike from Sadio Mane, but Liverpool were awarded a penalty in the 93rd minute and snatched the three points when James Milner scored from the spot.
Only losing to a last minute poor decision from Albrighton shows that we’re up there and good enough, no point being all doom and gloom. We’ll be up there this season #LCFC— • (@Vardesque) October 5, 2019
Sorry mate, but I’m feeling a little “doom and gloom” right now.
James Maddison’s return to fitness meant that manager Brendan Rodgers made one change to the side that trashed Newcastle 5-0 last week, but it may not have been the change you were expecting. Kasper Schmeicheel retained his place in goal. The back four of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Ben Chilwell lined up behind holding midfielder Wilfred Ndidi. Dennis Praet and Youri Tielemans resumed their partnership in central with midfield with Harvey Barnes switching to the right wing and Maddison on the left. Jamie Vardy spearheaded the attack as the lone striker.
The opening ten minutes were nervy for the Foxes. Leicester struggled to play the ball out of their own area and couldn’t find the long outlet balls to Vardy, so Liverpool spent long periods camped out in the visitors’ half. Chilwell and Tielemans in particular were guilty of gifting the ball to the Reds in dangerous positions. They were nearly made to pay when Trent Alexander-Arnold nutmegged Chilly and stood up a beautiful cross for James Milner, who blasted over from close range.
Hard work from Praet won Leicester a corner but like far too many Leicester passes, it found a red shirt and the chance went begging. The good news from the Foxes’ standpoint was that the hosts weren’t getting many chances and the few they got weren’t being converted. This was largely down to Ndidi and Söyüncü doing yeoman work at the back.
As half-time approached, the Foxes were starting to get back into the match and looking dangerous. The football gods, being cruel and capricious felt this was the perfect time to punish them. A simple long ball over the top was mis-judged by Evans, allowing Sadio Mane something approaching half and hour to pick his shot and beat Schmeichel at the far post.
It was nearly two moments later when Andy Robertson got free on the left and centered the ball for Mane who was all alone just 10 years out, but his first time effort was directly at Schmeichel. Liverpool were now well on top and the half-time whistle brought a welcome respite for the Foxes who were, all things considered, fortunate to be down by only a single goal.
Rodgers made one change to start the second half, bringing on Marc Albrighton for Barnes. It was Liverpool, however, who started on the front foot, with Mo Salah forcing a brilliant reaction save from Schmeichel. He was well offside and it probably wouldn’t have counted, but it was a fine save nonetheless.
The next ten minutes were a master class in giving away possession cheaply by the Foxes. We gave it away on short passes, on long passes, on headers and on dribbles. It was quite impressive in a morbid sense. The key moment was an Evans tackle that put the ball right onto Mane’s boot in front of goal, but he Senegalese put the ball just wide.
The introduction of Albrighton did bring some balance to the Leicester attack. The Foxes were starting to get forward a little on both sides without actually creating much of anything. The hour mark passed and Leicester were yet to register their first shot on goal.
It should have come on 65’, though. An inch-perfect ball from Albrighton released Vardy behind the Liverpool defense, but his first touch was too heavy and the ball ran to Adrian before he could pull the trigger and bring the Foxes level.
The match was now wide open which seemed to suit the hosts better. The Reds carved out three chances in short order. It wasn’t one-way traffic, though, as Praet had Leicester’s first shot of the match, putting a rasping drive just wide. That would be his last contribution as he was hauled off in favor of Ayoze Perez.
The change worked.
A pass from Evans found Ayoze, whose control was brilliant, taking out his defender and creating space to find Maddison’s run. Madders took the ball in stride and struck a low drive that Adrian got a hand to, but couldn’t keep out of the net and suddenly, Leicester were on level terms. It was only the Foxes’ second shot of the match and first on target.
Cue the barnstorming finish as Leicester pressed for a winner and Liverpool redoubled their efforts to keep their perfect record to start the season. Rodgers sent Hamza Choudhury on for Maddison whose first contribution was to pick up a yellow card bringing down Salah in full flight. The announcers referred to it as “cyncial” and they weren’t wrong. The free kick was put straight out of play, so let’s hear it for cynicism.
Or maybe not. Marc Albrighton did brilliantly to nick the ball from Sadio Mane in the box but he left the ball for Schmeichel and Mane nicked back in. Albrighton challenged for the ball and clipped Mane’s ankle. The former Southampton striker thought about it for a moment and then both of his feet flew out from under him and he tumbled to the ground. Was there contact? Absolutely. Did the contact have anything whatsoever to do with Mane going down? No, of course not, but the referee blew for the penalty. Cynical. Milner buried it. Game over.
"I think Sadio Mane's fallen over and dived to win the penalty"#LFC #LCFC #LIVLEI #bbcfootball pic.twitter.com/ueS9C3j5F9— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) October 5, 2019
Ok, let’s make one thing clear. I am a Leicester fan first and I will not pretend to be anything but, so I am bitterly disappointed right now. It’s one of those times when I wish a referee could give a penalty and card the striker for embellishment. Maybe when the sun rises tomorrow and I see a replay I’ll see it differently, but right now, I’m feeling it.
Looking at the stats and recalling the first 80 minutes of the match, it’s hard to argue with the result. It’s those last 10 minutes that will haunt me. We had it the point in our hands and we blew it. The football gods are the worst.
To make things even worse, we get two weeks to stew on this one as we’re going into another international break. The defeat leaves us on 14 points through 8 matches, still good enough for 3rd on the table at the moment. After the break, we host Burnley at the King Power on 19 October, and then travel to the south coast to face Southampton in a rare Friday evening fixture.