Leicester City earned a deserved 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the 99th Community Shield at Wembley on Saturday afternoon. The Foxes edged a tight first half, but Zack Steffen denied Jamie Vardy twice to keep the scoreline level. Kelechi Iheanacho won a late penalty and scored it himself to provide the margin of victory for Leicester, who hoisted the Cup for the first time in half a century.
With the injury to Wesley Fofana, the manager Brendan Rodgers made one change to the side that beat Sevilla 3-2 midweek. The Foxes XI: Schmeichel (c), Ricardo Pereira, Daniel Amartey, Çağlar Söyüncü, Ryan Bertrand, Youri Tielemans Wilfred Ndidi, Ayoze Perez, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy. Both the BBC and ESPN suggest a 3-4-1-2 with Barnes in the pocket behind Vardy and Perez. The broadcast got it right, with Vardy as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1.
With their England and Brazil players yet to return, Manchester City’s side was peppered with teenagers and squad players. It was no surprise then that the Foxes started on the front foot, with Barnes carving out an early chance after a good run on the left. Somewhat against the run of play, the first big chance fell to the Citizens. İlkay Gündoğan’s free-kick nearly curled into the top corner, but Schmeichel was wise to it and tipped it over the bar.
The Foxes started to assert themselves after the 20’ mark. A lovely cross-field ball from Maddison found Ricardo in space on the right. He pulled it back for Tielemans, who tapped it to Ayoze, but the Spaniard’s first-time effort lacked the power to beat Man City keeper Zack Steffen. Just moments later, Ndidi won the ball on the left wing . Leicester worked the ball into the box and Steffen was a little fortunate to block Vardy’s instinctive shot from Barnes’ blocked effort.
I would generously describe the next twenty minutes as “scrappy.” Both sides had some decent moves, some clumsy challenges, some cheap giveaways, and some disappointing final balls. It looked very much like what it was: A final pre-season tuneup with both sides approaching sharpness but not quite achieving it.
The Foxes had a golden opportunity to take the lead right at the death. Lovely work by Madders and Barnes released our new #7, allowing him to fire in a low cross from deep in the penalty area. It eluded the entire Man City defense and found Vardy at the far post. He volleyed it back across the goal against Steffen’s dive, but the American keeper got a fingertip to it, sending the ball off the post and to safety. That was the last action of an intermittently entertaining half.
Neither manager made any changes to start the second half and the run of play was likewise unchanged. Leicester found joy advancing down the left, but Barnes’ frustrating tendency to try to dribble through the entire opposing defense was in mid-season form and the attacks came to nothing.
The pace of play dropped precipitously as the clock approached the hour mark. Manchester City won a series of corners but were unable to get anything on target from them. Pep Guardiola took an injury break as an opportunity to send new signing Jack Grealish on for Sam Edozie, a substitution that will likely never happen again.
Rodgers waited until the 70:00 mark to make his first, second, third, and fourth substitutions.Patson Daka, Marc Albrighton, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, and Boubakary Soumare entered the fray, replacing Vardy, Ayoze, Madders, and Tielemans. The gaffer waited five more minutes before withdrawing Bertrand and Barnes in favor of Luke Thomas and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Clear chances were at a premium now as both sides looked a little tired and more than a little disjointed. Then, out of nowhere, Iheanacho caught Nathan Ake in possession and the former AFC Bournemouth man lashed out and caught Seniorman with a boot directly where his legs come together. The ball fell to Daka, whose shot was well saved by Steffen, but the referee whistled for the penalty. The Nigeria international took it himself, beating the American keeper, who guessed correctly but couldn’t keep it out.
As if there was any doubt about it...
It was nearly two for the Foxes when Albrighton's through ball found Daka in space. The Zambia man attempted to square for an unmarked Iheanacho, but the ball came off the heel of a Mancunian defender and was cleared to safety.
Referee Paul Tierney added four minutes of injury time, but the back four were never seriously threatened. Leicester saw out the time professionally and never allowed Manchester City a sniff of goal. The final whistle blew and the Foxes had their first trophy of the 2021-22 season.
Not a bad start to the season, eh? This one ticked all the boxes: The defense looked solid, Schmeichel was in fine form, the attack had moments of fluidity, the new signings looked at home, and, most importantly, there were no new injuries. We’ll still be looking to sign at least one center-half, but kudos to Brendan Rodgers for trusting Amartey in the back line and letting my Man of the Match, Wilfred Ndidi, do his thing in midfield.
Patson daka in one game won more trophies than harry kane— Redabouchefaa (@Redabouchefaa1) August 7, 2021
That’s just mean. True, but mean.
The victory has no impact on the table as this is an odd “half-friendly,” but it’s a nice one to have in our pocket. The Premier League season gets underway one week from today when the Foxes host Wolverhampton Wanderers in a proper 3:00 PM (9:00 AM U.S. Central) Saturday match, just like the football gods intended.