Leicester City saw off Leeds United by a score of 4-1 at Elland Road on a rainy Monday evening. Goals by Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielamans gave the Foxes the lead at the break. Stuart Dallas got one back for the hosts early in the second period, but a late Jamie Vardy goal and a penalty by Tielemans at the death provided the final, commanding margin for City.
Let’s just hope she’s a central defender.
You could say manager Brendan Rodgers got creative with the starting XI, but when there are so few defenders available, you don’t really have too many decision to make. Kasper Schmeichel started in goal behind a back five of Marc Albrighton, James Justin, Wesley Fofana, Christian Fuchs, and Luke Thomas. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s exactly one name from the defense that started the season, and that’s Justin playing out of position in the back three*. Nampalys Mendy and Youri Tielemans were the deep-lying midfielders between the wingbacks. Attacking midfielders Dennis Praet and Harvey Barnes slotted in behind lone striker Jamie Vardy.
* Of course, he’s been playing out of position at left back all year, so he’s probably used to it by now.
The opening two minutes of the match were, let’s call them “eventful.” Leeds should have taken the lead on their first foray down the pitch; Helder Costa stood up a cross to the far post was headed back to the middle by Jack Harrison. He found danger man Patrick Bamford unmarked 3 yards out, but he could only head the ball directly to Schmeichel.
The Danish stopped rolled the ball to Fuchs, who found Barnes run deep in the hosts’ half. The defender got there first, but he knocked it directly to Vardy. The striker cleverly drew the defense and rolled it to Barnes in front of the net, who smashed home to give the Foxes an early advantage.
It should have been two on 8’, as Vardy again turned provider, putting Barnes through on goal, but a heavy touch allowed the keeper to put it out for a corner. Barnes had yet another sight of goal as City piled on the pressure, this time drawing a fine save from Meslier in the Leeds goal.
It was all Leicester for the opening quarter hour, but United slowly started to get a foothold on the match, knocking the ball around smartly but trying to make one pass too many and turning the ball over. Every time City won the ball back, it looked as though Vardy was going to undo the Leeds defense and the second goal seemed in the cards.
Those cards came up trumps on 21’. Albrighton’s hard work on the right gave him space to whip in a cross. Vardy stooped to meet it and Meslier was able to save it, but not hold it. He spilled it directly in front of the net and Tielemans was the first to react, tapping the ball in from close range.
The match settled into to something of a holding pattern after the second Leicester goal. Leeds were dominating possession, while the Foxes were more dangerous on the break. Things were comfortable enough for City that Thomas tried to get in on the act, winning the ball on the edge of the box and attempting a right-footed curler that had neither the power nor the placement to beat Meslier. At the other end, a perfect through ball found Bamford alone in front of goal, but Schmeichel was out in a flash and blocked the close-range effort.
The Lilywhites were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area just after the one minute of time added on expired. After a nervy moment or two, the Foxes cleared their lines and the halftime whistle blew with Leicester taking a deserved 2-0 lead into the break.
Leicester came out of the tunnel with an unchanged XI, but the game itself changed almost immediately. After winning a corner, Stuart Dallas was given the opportunity to send in a cross from just outside the area. The ball narrowly avoided Bamford, Fofana...and Schmeichel. The keeper was anticipating the ball being redirected and was completely caught out by the ball going through untouched. A fluke goal to be sure, but it was a fine ball in by Dallas.
It almost got worse as Albrighton gave the hosts a needless corner. It was cleared as far as Pablo Hernandez, who took one touch to create a yard of space. He curled the ball towards goal past the rooted Schmeichel, but the Denmark international was saved by the crossbar. Leeds were now first to every loose ball and looking very much the more threatening side.
Sensing the tide turning against his side, Rodgers made his first throw of the dice, introducing James Maddison for Dennis Praet. The hosts remained on the front foot, with a long ball over the top looking for all the world like it was going to set Bamford away. Schmeichel dashed off his line and just got to it first, winning a goal kick.
Leicester fans heaved a collective sigh of relief as Luke Ayling ran on to a low ball into the box and appeared to be felled by a reckless Christian Fuchs challenge. The referee was unimpressed, and replays showed why. Fuchs pulled out of the challenge and Ayling, anticipating contact that never came, dove to the ground untouched.
With Barnes’ influence fading, Cengiz Ünder was thrown into the ray in his place. This move appears to have done the trick. In short order, Madders fed the ball to Ünder on the right. Taking a page from Stuart Dallas’ book, his shot was wide, but it made for a perfect pass for the onrushing Vardy who blasted home from short range and restored the two goal advantage (editor’s note: are we sure that wasn’t intentional?).
Jamie Vardy’s 110th Premier League goal— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 2, 2020
Takes him past Ryan Giggs on the all-time list. pic.twitter.com/u9CE2uDhWF
Not that we’re counting or anything. Also, I assume “B/R” stands for “Brendan Rodgers”
The same combination nearly worked their magic yet again just moments later. The Roma loanee played a perfect ball into the path of Vardy. He scampered clear of the defense, but his finish was poor and the grateful Meslier was able to push it wide. That proved the former Stockbridge Steels hitman’s last contribution, as Wes Morgan was sent on to see out the last five minutes of the match.
The Foxes were able to keep the ball deep in the Leeds half for most of the remaining time, and were able to add a little icing on to a fine performance when Madders was fouled right on the edge of the box. It was tight, but his foot was on the white line, so VAR made the correct call and a penalty was awarded. With Vardy off the pitch, Tielemans took it and took it well.
Leeds had one more chance for a consolation goal and, again, it feel to Bamford just a yard from the goal. He swung his foot and put it over, but he was in an offside position and it wouldn’t have counted. The whistle blew, and Leicester ran out 4-1 winners.
Heavy away wins are always fun, but did the result flatter the Foxes? On one hand, Bamford squandered a hattrickful of chances and, until the hour mark, it looked very much as though Leeds were going to get what would have seemed a deserved equaliser. On the other, far more correct hand, it was Leicester who squandered chances in the first half and the tactical changes to close out the match righted the ship and the result was nothing less than we deserved.
Leicester have just annihilated the media darlings Leeds United with scintillating football whilst missing Soyuncu, Evans, Ricardo, Castagne, Ndidi and Maddison on the bench.— LCFC handball appreciation society (@LCFC1884VERDICT) November 2, 2020
5 wins in 7
That is how a football coach earns his money
All hail Brendan Rodgers, #LEELEI #LCFC pic.twitter.com/taGFgKK0xr
All jokes aside, it’s astonishing how well we’ve coped with multiple long-term injuries and the man deserves all the credit in the world for it.
The win gives the Foxes 15 points from a club-record 5 wins in their first seven matches. This is good enough for second on the table, one point behind leaders Liverpool. Our next match is a Europa League affair, playing host to Portugese side S.C. Braga on Thursday evening. Premier League action resumes on Sunday as Wolverhampton Wanderers visit the East Midlands.