Leicester City put a woeful Sheffield United to the sword on Sunday morning by a score of 5-0. A first half Kelechi Iheanacho goal gave the Foxes the lead at the half, and then the floodgates opened in the second with two more from Iheanacho, one from Ayoze Perez, and an own goal.
In all honestly, the scoreline flattered the visitors.
Leicester (4.55) 5-0 (0.07) Sheffield Utd— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) March 14, 2021
OK, maybe it was just perfectly accurate reflection of the match. Things are a little giddy in this house right now.
Manager Brendan Rodgers must have felt spoilt for choice when he filled out the teamsheet and saw he had fewer players unavailable than fingers on his right hand. Kasper Schmeichel captained the team from the back, marshalling a back three of Wesley Fofana, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Jonny Evans. Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi partnered in central midfield, flanked by Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne on the wings. Ayoze Perez, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Jamie Vardy lined up in attack.
The festivities got off to a slow start, with the Foxes demonstrating the virtue of patience almost to a fault. City had approximately all of the possession but were content to knock the ball sideways in search of an opening. The final ball was missing or, more accurately, consistently over-hit.
The first real opportunity didn’t present itself until the ten-minute mark. Vardy fed the ball out to Castagne in acres of space on the left. The Belgium winger moved the ball to his right foot and fired in a cross that Ayoze flicked towards the far post. Blades keeper Aaron Ramsdale was just equal to it, getting a fingertip to the ball and turning it onto the post and out for a corner.
With a quarter of the match gone, Leicester had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Vardy nicked the ball off of Kean Bryan in the visitors’ area. The former Fleetwood Town man went for power with his left boot and his shot was on target if one assumes Ramsdale was the target. Ramsdale was able to palm it straight into the air collect at the second time of asking.
The Foxes were carving out chances like clockwork, but that clock was running very slowly. A third opportunity came another eleven minutes later. Some neat work around the edge of the box saw Tielemans teed up. The former AS Monaco man laced it and it looked as though it might nestle inside the post before Ethan Ampadu’s sliding block deflected it wide.
It was going to take a moment of brilliance to find a breakthrough, and that’s exactly what Ayoze provided on the forty-minute mark. The former Newcastle man unlocked the Blades defense with the outside of his boot and releasing Vardy on the left. The former England man’s turn of pace put him behind the back three of United, allowing him to curl a low ball across the face of the goal. Iheanacho arrived at the far post and had the simplest of tap ins to give the Foxes a richly deserved lead at the half.
The Foxes made one change at the break, with Marc Albrighton coming on for Ricardo. There was no word as to whether this was a tactical change or if the Portugal man picked up a knock. In addition, there was a tactical switch, with Vardy moving to the right and Iheanacho to the left.
Leicester certainly started the half much more brightly than they did the first and should have doubled the lead inside the first five minutes. City were allowed to make a truly shocking number of passes inside the United box before Iheanacho slid the ball to Vardy unmarked six yards out. He smashed it first time, giving Ramsdale no chance but Chris Basham was perfectly positioned on the line and deflected it to safety.
Vardy ensured that his personal xG would dwarf the visitors when he spurned his third terrific chance of the match. A turnover in midfield saw the ball fall to Iheanacho back on the right. His through ball found Leicester’s talisman behind the defense deep in the area, but he could only contrive to hit it directly into Ramsdale with both corners beckoning.
The second goal finally came just after the hour mark. The Foxes cleared a rare Blades corner as far as Bryan on the right. His loose touch was picked off by Albrighton, who tore down the wing before finding Ayoze on the edge of the area. The Spaniard took a touch and smashed a low drive into the far corner that left Ramsdale no chance.
It was three just minutes later. Basham turned the ball over to Tielemans in the Leicester half. The Belgium midfield found Vardy’s run on the left. The striker hit it first time to play in Iheanacho on the right. The former Manchester City hitman struck it first time, rippling the back of the net past the diving Ramsdale.
It was getting silly now, so bear with me. United again turned the ball over, allowing Ndidi to find Iheanacho in the visitors’ half. He walked the ball forward and, being on a hat trick, decided to take it himself from distance. A little confidence is a marvelous thing for a striker, at least for Kelechi, as he couldn’t have hit it more sweetly. HIs low drive nestled just inside the near post for the Nigeria man’s first Premier League hat trick.
The match now settled, Rodgers had the luxury of withdrawing Ayoze and handing Thakgalo Leshabela his senior debut. The academy product got involved immediately, releasing Vardy on the left again. He attempted to recreate the first goal, sliding it across the area for Iheanacho, but it was instead intercepted by Bryan who turned it into his own net.
I’ll be honest; I couldn’t keep up with all of the chances that fell to the Foxes over the closing stages of the match. Ihenacho could, and probably should have had a couple more. Vardy had another opportunity, and Evans had a chance to turn in a free kick as well. It was probably the most dominant half of football I’ve ever seen Leicester City play and, yes, I remember Southampton.
Kelechi Iheanacho on Sky:— Jason Bourne (@JasonBourne1986) March 14, 2021
"I don't know how to express this, I've been waiting for this day to come. I'm grateful to God, my teammates and my manager for for helping me grow.
"I wish everyone a happy Mother's Day. I dedicate this match ball to all the mothers in the world.”
Today I learned that Mother’s Day in the UK is a couple of months before Mother’s Day in the US,
You may have noticed that the back three didn’t get a lot of mentions. They did their job when called upon, but when the other side only manages a single, off-target shot, there’s just not much to do. This was just a ridiculous match, and the visitors were fortunate not to suffer a heavier defeat because the Foxes looked like scoring every time down the pitch.
The win returns City to second on the table with 56 points from 29 matches (and a +21 goal differential, which may well be important). Believe it or not, that’s it for our league schedule in March. Next weekend, we square off against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinal. After the international break, we host Manchester City at the King Power on 3 April.