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Match Report: Burnley 1 - 2 Leicester City

10-man Foxes take all three points thanks to a winner from Big Wes Morgan.

Burnley FC v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Leicester City defeated Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor on Saturday after being reduced to ten men on only 3’. Harry Maguire was dismissed in the early going, but the Foxes struck first through a James Maddison free kick. Dwight McNeil equalised for the Clarets in the first half, but Burnely were unable to make their man advantage count and paid the price when Wes Morgan scored the winner at the death.

Don’t hold back so much, Gary. Tell us what you really think.

Brendan Rodgers kept the faith with the same starting XI he picked for the win against Fulham last week. On the off chance you don’t have that one memorized, it included Kasper Schmeichel in goal. The back four were Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Harry Maguire, and Ben Chilwell behind defensive midfielder Wilfed Ndidi. Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, and Demarai Gray manned the midfield in support of lone striker Jamie Vardy.

After an early flurry of activity in front of the Clarets’ goal, disaster struck for the Foxes. At least it was a novel form of disaster this time. Instead of going a goal down in the first five minutes, Leicester were reduced to 10 men as Maguire saw red for clipping the heels of Johann Gudmundsson, who was through on goal. There was nothing in the challenge; the England defender was trying to get to the other side of the attacker, but as he was the last man, the referee had no choice but to send him off.

Burnley won a corner from the free kick and Rodgers used that stoppage to send Wes Morgan into the fray, sacrificing Demarai Gray in the process and moving to a 4-4-1. This marked the beginning of a period of play that didn’t provide much in the way of highlights. The wind at Turf Moor was sending high balls off in wildly unexpected directions but that’s no excuse for how loose both teams were with balls on the deck. Both sides struggled to string passes together unless you count “passes directly to opposition players”, in which case both teams were moving the ball around neatly.

Even with only ten men, Leicester were looking the more likely side to get an opener. It finally came on the half-hour mark through some spectacular solo work by Maddison. The former Norwich man dribbled the ball around the the outside of the area leading defender James Tarkowski on a merry chase, finally inducing a foul just outside the box on the left side. Maddison took the free kick himself and it was a beauty, beating Tom Heaton at his near post and giving the Foxes a deserved lead.

Burnley FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Nice response to being told you were well down the list for a spot in the England squad.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

It was very nearly two just moments later. Barnes, Madders, and Vardy combined to open up the Clarets’ defense. The opportunity fell to Vardy near the penalty spot, but his drive was well punched away by Heaton. You could feel the confidence growing in the Foxes, which, as it turned out, was probably not for the best.

With both fullbacks deep in Burnley’s territory, Evans gave the ball away near the halfway line. The hosts worked the ball quickly around the penalty area into the wide open flank on the Leicester right. Charlie Taylor pulled the ball back for a wide open Dwight McNeil on the edge of the box. Schmeichel got a hand to his low drive, but couldn’t keep it out of the back of the net.

Burnley FC v Leicester City - Premier League
McNeil, miming his favorite Godspeed You! Black Emperor album title.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Clarets probably just edged the last ten minutes of the half, but neither side mustered what you’d call a real opportunity. In spite of being down to 10 men, Leicester would rightly feel a little disappointed not to going into the tunnel with a lead.

The Foxes came out firing to start the second period. A Chilwell through ball sent Vardy away on the left wing. He skipped past Taylor’s challenge and fired a low cross into the box. Barnes got to it, but Tarkowski got just enough on it to turn it away from the net and prevent Leicester from retaking the lead.

Things returned to their default “scrappy” mode for the next twenty minutes or so. The run of play was perhaps best illustrated by Maddison taking a nasty elbow to the face...from Chilwell. Madders was able to carry on briefly, but was soon substituted and replaced by Christian Fuchs.

Burnley ought to have taken the lead on the hour mark. A raking ball into the center found the maybe-just-offisde Wood alone inside the six yard box, but he shinned the ball over the bar with the entire goalmouth at his mercy. That would be Wood’s last involvement as he was withdrawn by Sean Dyche in favor of Peter Crouch, a man who could presumably hit the target from four yards out.

The Clarets had a strong penalty shout on 70’ when Taylor went down on what might have been the slightest of touches from Ndidi. It would have been harsh, but as they say, “You’ve seen them given”. In fact, in this case, it probably should have been given. Leicester were just hanging on at this point, and Brendan Rodgers made his third defensive-minded substitution, introducing Nampalys Mendy for Harvey Barnes.

Leicester were just holding on as the Clarets had multiple penalty appeals and were seeing approximately all of the ball as the Foxes struggled to get the ball out of their own area. Importantly, though, the hosts weren’t getting any shots on target it. Would they be made to pay?

Yes, yes they would.

Good work from Ricardo down the right won a late corner for the Foxes. Burnly cleared, but gave the ball back cheaply while the big defenders were still in the area and Leicester worked the ball to Tielemans on the right wing. His cross was deflected, but in the most fortunate of ways and fell directly to the head of Big Wes, who glanced the ball into the net for the winner at the end of regular time.

Burnley FC v Leicester City - Premier League
“My defensive error didn’t cost us anything!”
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It’s about time Leicester won a match like this. After going down to ten men, the Foxes were still the better side in the first half and unfortunate not to lead at the break. The second half was another story, and Burnley will feel they deserved at least a draw if not a win based their second period dominance. Leicester absorbed a lot of pressure and looked close to breaking, but they worked hard and made their own luck at the end.

It’s always a bonus to get an away win when you’re down a man, but it’s downright exceptional to do so when Vardy was relatively quiet. His workrate was excellent as always, but he was unable to impose himself on the match, so it was left to Barnes and Maddison to provide the offensive spark. In the second half, when we had so little of the ball and our backs were up against it, Morgan and Evans did yeoman work keeping the big Burnley strikers at bay and giving us a chance to nick it at the end.

Thanks to a world-class collapse from Huddersfield Town, the win leaves Leicester 10th on 41 points from 31 matches. Next week, we play...nobody, thanks to the international break. Harry Maguire, who will miss the next three matches for Leicester, will join Ben Chilwell in the England squad. Our next league match on on the 30th of March at home to Bournemouth in the Ultimate Mid-Table Showdown (10th v. 11th).