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League Cup Match Report: Leicester City 3 - 0 MK Dons

Sometimes the result is as much about the opposition as the performance.

Milton Keynes Dons v Leicester City - Carabao Cup Fourth Round Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Leicester City saw off a lifeless MK Dons side by a score of 3-0 in Milton Keynes on Thursday evening in the League Cup. Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez scored in the first half, both from brilliant moves started by Luke Thomas. Jamie Vardy added a third to put the tie to bed and ensure City’s place in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.

Manager Brendan Rodgers selected a lineup similar to the one that saw off Newport County in November, omitting only Daniel Iversen, Jonny Evans, and goalscorer James Justin. The starting XI: Danny Ward, Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Wout Faes, Luke Thomas, Dennis Praet, Youri Tielemans (C), Ayoze Perez, Harvey Barnes, Jamie Vardy.

It took a quarter-hour for the Foxes to get their “shooting way over from distance” tendencies out of their systems, but when they did so, they did it in style. Thomas played an absolutely perfect through ball between the fullback and central defenders for Barnes to run onto. His low cross was behind Vardy, who tried to guide it with his trailing leg. Keeper Jamie Cumming was able to block it, but it fell to Tielemans who guided it home into an empty net.

If there were ever a Twitter handle just begging for a copyright takedown...

On 25’, Dons had a convincing shout for a free kick inside Leicester’s D when Faes made a mess of his control and clumsily tried to win the ball back. Referee Andre Marriner saw nothing wrong, which was fortunate, as the Belgian defender could well have been adjudged to have been the last man.

The Foxes punished the decision almost immediately. It was again Thomas who provided the creativity. He played a brilliant ball over the top that found Ayoze’s perfectly timed run. The Spaniard did well to control it with his first touch, line up his shot, and blast it inside the near post to double the lead.

Milton Keynes Dons v Leicester City - Carabao Cup Fourth Round
I can’t help but think his time at the King Power is almost up, so appreciate him while we have him.
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Dons tried to surge forward to get one back before the half, but they were struggling mightily to get forward. They ended the half with just 28% of the possession and no shots on target, which makes it difficult (but not quite impossible) to score. The Foxes managed 9 efforts, 5 of which were on frame, and looked to be coasting when the half came to a close.

Dons came out of the tunnel attempting to press in hopes of discombobulating City, but the Foxes remained fully combobulated and added to their advantage in just five minutes. Castagne was given acres of spaces on the right and he took full advantage, standing up a cross for Vardy at the near post. Vardy, being Vardy, made no mistake and nodded it past the stranded keeper.

Milton Keynes Dons v Leicester City - Carabao Cup Fourth Round
If there had been some MK Dons supporters present, I’m sure this would have wound them up.
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

This effectively killed the match, as the Dons went into damage control mode and tried to keep the scoreline from getting any worse than it already was. Leicester were given the freedom to knock the ball around but they were finding it difficult to make any inroads behind the defenders.

On 65’, Rodgers made a couple of changes, withdrawing Vardy and Perez in favour of Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho. One suspects that the Milton Keynes defenders weren’t encouraged by these changes. The run of play changed not one whit and the only remaining question was “Would Danny Ward have anything to do this evening?”

The gaffer made a second brace of changes with 12 minutes to play. Barnes and Castagne came off for Marc Albrighton and Will Alves. We were well into silly time now, as Faes was charging forward into the Dons’ box for...reasons? Anyway, Rodgers threw Kasey McAteer into the fray for the impressive Thomas with 5 minutes to play.

The answer to the prior question turned out to be “no” as Ward was a spectator for the entire match (at least from a statistical standpoint). Time expired with no additional drama and, importantly, no injuries.

You couldn’t have scripted a better return to action after an international tournament for the Foxes. MK Dons didn’t offer much in attack, certainly not enough to trouble the most in-form defence in England. The attacking players were afforded a little more freedom than they’d normally see and they took advantage often enough to keep the result from ever being in doubt.

The accommodations for the supporters were nice, though. That has to count for something.

The result has no effect on the league table, but it does ensure that the Foxes will be in the quarter-final draw for the League Cup on Thursday evening. The next round will take place after the festive fixtures in the second week of January. Next on the docket is a Boxing Day match against Newcastle in the Premier League. After that, it’s off to Anfield to face Liverpool on the 30th to close out 2022.