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Europa League Match Report: Leicester City 1 - 1 Spartak Moscow

Vardy penalty miss costs Foxes a chance to go joint-top

Leicester City v Spartak Moskva: Group C - UEFA Europa League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Leicester City had to settle for a draw against Spartak Moscow at the King Power on Thursday evening in Europa League play. After a goalless first half, the visitors took a shock lead through Victor Moses. Daniel Amartey equalised for the Foxes, but Leicester couldn’t find a breakthrough for the winner as Iheanacho and Soumare hit the post and Vardy saw a penalty saved.

No lies detected.

You get no points if you correctly guessed the formation (3-4-1-2 of course), but the specifics of the starting XI were another story, one largely written by injury and illness in the squad: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, Timothy Castagne, Youri Tielemans, Boubakary Soumare, Ryan Bertrand, Ayoze Perez, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Patson Daka.

There’s just something different about European football, isn’t there? The first City attack came saw Söyüncü marauding down the left wing past two Spartak defenders. The Moscow side failed to clear their lines and the first shot of the match was an Amartey effort from distance that wasn’t that far off.

The Foxes dominated the first twenty minutes, having essentially all of the possession (in this case, “all” is “70%”). The visitor’s defence kept their concentration and prevent any genuinely good chances, but they nearly went behind to what would have been an absolute wondergoal. A ball towards Daka was cleared as far as Soumare outside the left side of the box. No one closed him down, so he lined up a shot a hit a screamer that left the keeper rooted but came back off the inside of where the far post met the crossbar.

Leicester City v Spartak Moscow - UEFA Europa League - Group C - King Power Stadium
I’m not the only one who can’t believe it didn’t go in.
Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

And so it went for the rest of the half. City patiently tried to break down the Spartak defense time and again, only for the ball to be cleared to a Leicester player who would attempt to outdo Tielemans. As you may be aware, there is only one Youri Tielemans, and these efforts were all doomed to fall short. The Foxes did get another almost-chance when a long ball over the top to Iheanacho appeared to have just evaded the defence, but it took an unfortunate hop and the keeper was able to save it.

Leicester actually increased their territorial dominance as the half wore on, ending with 74% of the possession and leading in both shots and shots on target, but not by nearly as much as one would hope.

The second half started much as the first, with the Foxes winning a corner almost immediately. It came to nothing, as they tend to, but this time they were made to pay. The visitors broke down the left. Mikhail Ignatov fired in a close to Victor Moses, our tormentor from the away leg, stooped and glanced the ball past Schmeichel to give the Russians the lead against the run of play.

The run of play got its revenge just four minutes later. The Foxes won another corner and this time, Bertrand’s ball found Ayoze’s head. HIs set up perfectly for Amartey, who powered his header into the back of the net from six yards out.

Rodgers made his first two changes immediately after the equaliser, hauling off Bertrand and Ayoze for Ademola Lookman and Wilfred Ndidi. This marked a period of increased albeit highly chaotic pressure from the Foxes. Presumably, Lookman was now the left wingback, although Cags seemed to think the position was his.

Jamie Vardy came on in the 71st minute for Daka, who absolutely worked his socks off, and was he called into action almost immediately. Moses was adjudged to have pulled down Lookman in the area as he tried to latch on to a through ball. It was...soft. Vardy stepped up to take the penalty and it wasn’t his best effort, nor his second best, nor get the idea. It was easily saved but if we’re being honest here? Justice was probably done.

City somehow failed to take the lead on 84’. Castagne got free on the right and lofted a perfect cross for substitute Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to run on to. His goal-bound header struck Ihenacho in front of the goal. The Seniorman swivelled and struck the post with a venomous effort that should have been the winner.

Leicester City v Spartak Moscow: Group C - UEFA Europa League
“I didn’t want to score the winner anyway...” - KDH, probably.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

The last ten minutes were marked by urgent and ultimately frustrating attacks by Leicester and a whole lot of...what’s the Russian word for “shithousery?” Google translate says хитрость, which is really more like “cunning,” but that doesn’t quite capture it. Good effort, though. Anyway, the five minutes of extra time expired without any goalmouth incidents so the Foxes were forced to settle for a draw.

That was disappointing, wasn’t it? Leicester were easily the better side for the entire 90+ minutes, but they didn’t exactly dominate in front of goal. Spartak offered absolutely nothing going forward, but they did defend well. I guess this was better than the match in Warsaw where we should have won and got nothing from the match.

The draw leaves us with 5 points from 4 matches which leaves us third on the table in Group C but only 2 points adrift of leaders Napoli. We face off against Leeds at Elland Road this Sunday, and then host Chelsea after the international break on the 20th.