Leicester City are through to the 3rd round of the Carabao Cup after a penalty shoot out win over Newcastle United. The Foxes went ahead in the 1st half from a deflected James Maddison free kick, but the Magpies levelled through Yoshinori Muto early in the 2nd and a fairly drab game went to penalties. Schmeichel was the hero with two saves, as Jamie Vardy tucked away the winner.
Brendan Rodgers had promised to take the cups seriously, and certainly lived up to that with a very strong first XI. Kasper Schmeichel kept his place in goal behind a back four of Ricardo Pereira, Wes Morgan, Çağlar Söyüncü and Christian Fuchs. Hamza Choudhury sat in behind Youri Tielemans and James Maddison in midfield while Jamie Vardy led the line, flanked by Harvey Barnes and former Magpie Ayoze Perez.
Leicester were off to a hot start as Ricardo created a chance for Perez inside the first 30 seconds, and Maddison even had the ball in the net in the 3rd minute, but it was called back for a foul.
The game settled fairly quickly into a scrappy affair. Neither side was lacking in energy or intent, but the quality wasn't on full display with the ball regularly given away in both directions.
Newcastle were happy to sit deep and their organised back 5 proved very difficult to break down. Neither side created any clear cut chances, but the Foxes did break the deadlock, taking a 1-0 lead after 31 minutes.
James Maddison’s free kick was deflected off Matt Ritchie in the wall, completely wrong-footing keeper Darlow and the former Forest man couldn’t keep it out.
The Foxes dominated the remainder of the half, taking 68% possession and completing twice as many passes as their hosts, but the deflected goal remained their only shot on target.
A crunching tackle from Hamza Choudhury earned him a yellow card to close out the half, and Rodgers opted to protect him from a possible suspension at the break by brining on Dennis Praet.
The second period continued with much the same pattern as the first. Neither side were able to create solid chances from open play, and this time it was Newcastle who took advantage of a set piece.
A long free kick caught Ricardo slightly out of position and allowed Willems in behind. The wing back squared it for Muto, who gladly tapped in the easy chance to level the game 1-1.
Almost immediately things got worse for Leicester, as captain Wes Morgan was forced off with what appeared to be a muscle strain of some kind. Regular starter Jonny Evans replaced him.
Again, the Foxes were generally on top and controlling the game, but were relying on set piece chances. Evans had the best, heading over from a corner, while Maddison found Perez from a free kick, but his shot was blocked.
Shortly after, Shelvey had Newcastle’s best chance of a winner. The shot was from a good distance out, but was powerful enough to test Kasper Schmeichel, who made an excellent save.
Leicester’s attacking players struggled to get into the game. Barnes was starting to make an impact towards the end, but it was a return to forget for Ayoze Perez. He rounded off a poor showing by spurning possibly the best chance of the half in the 95th minute, after a surging run from Ricardo Pereira, and the game went to penalties.
Christian Fuchs stepped up fist for the Foxes, followed by Maddison and Tielemans. All three found the net, though Maddison might have stopped some hearts with his Yann Kermogant impression.
Harvey Barnes couldn’t put his away, but Kasper Schmeichel came to his rescue. The Dane saved two of Newcastle’s four penalties, setting the stage for Jamie Vardy to get the winner, and he duly obliged.
It was hardly a vintage display from the Foxes, especially given the strength of the side put out, but the important thing is that they made it through. Rodgers does seem to value a cup run this year.
After the game, we were drawn away against Luton Town. Last season’s League One winners won 3-0 at Cardiff to set up the encounter, which could see another quick return for a summer signing, if James Justin is given the chance.