Leicester City overcame a stubborn Newport County side by a score of 3-0 at the King Power, ensuring their progress in the Carabao Cup. James Justin gave the Foxes the edge at the break with a brilliant, curling effort off the inside of the far post. Jamie Vardy bagged a brace in the second period, scoring two vintage Jamie Vardy goals. Unfortunately, Justin took a boot to the knee and had to be stretchered off the pitch, marring an otherwise-delightful performance.
England's best left back is also England's best right back. pic.twitter.com/YyUIZPp5Vd— (@LCFCshitposting) November 8, 2022
Also pictured: England’s best striker.
Manager Brendan Rodgers made a literally uncountable* number of changes to the line that beat Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Captain Jonny Evans made his return to the starting lineup, as did Wilfred Ndidi. The starting XI: Daniel Iversen, James Justin, Wout Faes, Evans (C), Luke Thomas, Dennis Praet, Boubakary Soumare, Ndidi, Ayoze Perez, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy
* The number is “seven,” Jake. Surely you can count to seven.
Playing at home with a strong starting lineup, you would probably have expected the Foxes to dominate from the opening whistle and you’d have gotten it spot-on. The Foxes should have taken the lead on 6’ when Barnes split the defence with a perfectly weighted ball that found Vardy behind the County back line. With only the keeper to beat, he tried to slide the ball to Ayoze instead of taking the shot himself. Mickey Demetriou got back just in time to toe the ball away.
The match settled into a rhythm where the Foxes attempted elaborate build-up play, comfortable in their belief that, should they lose the ball, they would be able to win it back immediately. This pattern repeated with such frequency that the run of play just sort of blended into an indistinct, unmemorable miasma. After half an hour, City had 86% of the possession and had out-shot the Exiles 8-0, but had forced on a single save from County keeper Nick Townsend.
Leicester finally found their breakthrough just a minute before halftime. In the midst of another deliberate attack that seemed destined to end in disappointment, Justin drifted inside from the right. He wasn’t closed down, so he looked up and curled a left-footed shot past the keeper and off the inside of the post. Not a bad ending to a not-so-great half.
Predictably, the manager made no changes at the half and, predictably, the run of play was unchanged. Speaking of “predictable,” it would be rude to say that the Foxes’ passing patterns were repetitive, but you could see the Newport County players move to anticipate them long before the passes were actually played.
County were coming out of its shell and starting to see some of the ball in the Leicester half. A brilliantly worked free kick saw Demetriou get behind the defence and plant a header against the post. He was offside, but it was the first hint of pressure from the visitors. On the hour, they got their first shot on target, but Iversen easily gathered the header.
Just moments later, Justin was down, having taken a boot directly to his patella. The physio immediately signalled that he would be unable to carry on. Rodgers made a triple-substitution, introducing Marc Albrighton, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Youri Tielemans for Justin, Ayoze, and Soumare.
The Foxes weathered the storm and started to assert themselves. The second goal finally came when Albrighton whipped in a cross from that Vardy met fourteen yards from the goal. His stooping header could not have been placed better, evading the keeper, who couldn’t get a glove to it.
Gol do Leicester indeed! I really like Portuguese. P.S. The link won’t work unless you’re in Brasil...sorry.
With the job largely done, Rodgers hauled off Faes to introduce Jannik Vestergaard. There was still time to add to the tally, and of course, it was Vardy again. Barnes found the former Fleetwood Town man with a through ball and he was able to slot home from close range with the keeper well-beaten.
That was that, as there was neither the time nor the ability for County to get back into the match. The Foxes saw out the three minutes of stoppage time and, after the whistle, enjoyed a lap applauding the fans who came out on this rainy Tuesday evening.
It took a little longer to take and to extend the lead than I would have liked, but it was a tidy day at the office otherwise. The only blemish, and it’s a serious one, is the injury to Justin. He seems almost certain to miss West Ham next week, but the bigger concern is his availability for the World Cup. Here’s hoping it wasn’t as bad as it looked and he’s back in action sooner rather than later.
The other thing of interest is that Vardy got a full 90’ and he scored both of his goals late. I’m not sure what it means, but he’s been coming off on the hour like clockwork and this suggests that he may have a little more in the tank than Rodgers is asking of him.
Vardy giving it big to the Newport fans is exactly what the magic of the cup is all about.— Ant (@ANT_LCFC) November 8, 2022
The victory has absolutely no impact on our place on the table, this being a cup match. It does see us through to the fourth round, the draw for which will take place Thursday evening. Our next match is the aforementioned West Ham away fixture on Saturday morning. After that, there’s a lengthy delay for some international fixtures, then we host high-flying Newcastle on Boxing Day.