Leicester City fought Brighton and Hove Albion to a draw Wednesday night, advancing 4 -2 on penalties. First-half goals by Harvey Barnes and Ademola Lookman were matched by strikes from Adam Webster and Enock Mwepu for the Seagulls. The Foxes made all four of their penalties, while Danny Ward saved one and saw another bounce off the post, getting City through to the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
There are changed lineups and then there are lineups like this one where you have to look twice to make certain that you’re seeing the correct team. This was the latter: Danny Ward, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Çağlar Söyüncü, Jannik Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand, Luke Thomas, Hamza Choudhury (C), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Harvey Barnes, Ademola Lookman, and Patson Daka.
The match couldn’t have started more brightly for the Foxes. Thomas hit a ball over the top looking for Daka that failed to find its target but the ensuing back pass was unconvincing. As the Zambian hitman bore down on Jason Steele, the keeper’s clearance went off the toes of Dan Burn and fell to the onrushing Barnes, who took a touch, picked his spot, and cooly slotted past the keeper to give City an early lead.
Leicester’s pace at the top was giving the Seagulls’ defence fits and the Foxes should have doubled their lead on 20’. Daka broke away on the left with Lookman steaming down the middle. The former Salzburg striker instead pulled it back for Dewsbury-Hall, whose first-time blast was just tipped onto the bar by Steele. From the corner, Vestergaard was close to opening his Leicester account, but Shane Duffy headed it off the line.
City continued to have the better of the exchanges but were unable to add to their lead. As is often the case, they were made to pay for this. Jeremy Sarmiento, who had looked a handful all half, carved the Leicester defence apart. He left it for Alexis Mac Allister at the edge of the area, whose drive was just tipped over by Ward. The corner pinball'd around and at the feet of Adam Webster, who bundled home from short range.
Parity was but a brief blink of an eye as another defensive error allowed the Foxes to regain the lead. Lookman was alert to pounce to Sarmiento’s back pass, getting to it just before Steele and toeing it into the back of the net. That proved the final action of the half. City were the better side to be sure, but there was a nonchalance to their play that was both enjoyable to watch and worrying at the same time.
These two need to be playing more pic.twitter.com/dC7kQ7oKPR— Olly Mattock (@MattockOlly) October 27, 2021
Agreed, but we may have to wait until the EPL goes to 13-a-side.
The gaffer didn’t make any changes to either personnel or shape at the half. The Foxes remained the more dangerous side on balance, but it was scrappy and certainly nothing like a dominant performance. Neither side were able to string multiple passes together and the best chances were coming off of sloppy turnovers.
This was clearly not what Rodgers wanted from a side defending a one-goal lead. Before reaching the hour mark, James Maddison and Nampalys Mendy were introduced in favour of Dewsbury-Hall and Bertrand. A few minutes later, Boubakary Soumare came on for Choudhury. The goal, clearly, was to keep possession and calm the match down.
It didn’t work. With 20 minutes to play, Marc Cucurella got the ball out wide left after the Seagulls carved open the Leicester midfield. His cross was curling behind fellow substitute Enock Mwepu, who somehow put a looping header on target falling away from goal from 14 yards. It settled just inside the far post, leaving Ward no chance at all.
I can actually hear the tone of voice in this tweet.
Rodgers responded by introducing Kelechi Iheanacho for Lookman and then Ricardo Pereira for Daley-Campbell. Even with his best and his brightest on the pitch, Rodgers’ charges struggled to stamp their authority on the game and the visitors looked more and looked the more likely to break the deadlock. I’m not saying that Leicester were playing for penalties, but perhaps they ought to have been. Regardless, four minutes of time added on expired and we were left to experience the pageantry of the penalty kick lottery!
Maddison - scored comfortably: Leicester 1 - 0 Brighton
Gross - scored, sent Ward the wrong way: Leicester 1 -1 Brighton
Barnes - scored, sending Steele the wrong way: Leicester 2 - 1 Brighton
Maupay - missed off the post: Leicester 2 - 1 Brighton
Daka - scored with an unsaveable shot into the top corner: Leicester 3 - 1 Brighton
Mac Allister - scored even though Ward guessed correctly, it was too well placed: Leicester 3-2 Brighton
Ricardo - scored after sending Steele the wrong way. Leicester 4 - 2 Brighton
Mwepu - saved! Leicester advance on penalties, 4 - 2
Still yet to start a Premier League match for us, but he’s really too good to be a reserve, isn’t he?
It looked for all the world like it would be a stroll for Leicester, as the pace up top was too much for the Brighton defence. However, the visitors refused to fold and were well worth being level at the end of extra time. It made for an entertaining first half, a nervy second, and a huge sigh of relief at the end. Oh, and this makes for four wins on the trot for City, albeit with eight goals conceded over that span.
The win sees us through to the final eight of the Cup, in the hat with Liverpool, Arsenal, Brentford, Sunderland, West Ham, Chelsea, and Tottenham. The draw will be on Saturday, with the quarter-finals to be played in the first week of December. No time to worry about that, as we face Arsenal at the King Power on Saturday in the Premier League and then Spartak Moscow visit the East Midlands a week from tomorrow.
It’s not really related to the match, but with today being three years after the accident that claimed the life of Khun Vichai, I just wanted to say that I remain in awe of just how big this man’s dream is. We’re still living in it Yes, he was the absolute model of a football club owner, but he was more than that; he was a man who made the world around him a better place to be. His dream, ably carried on by his son, is still alive and well.