Leicester City downed Norwich City by a score of 3-0 on Wednesday evening at the King Power in an entertaining affair. Both sides had plenty of opportunities to scores in the first half, with keepers Kasper Schmeichel and Angus Gunn having to be in fine form to keep it goalless. A Jamie Vardy brace and a James Maddison strike in the second period gave the Foxes their first win in what feels like a very, very long time.
With nothing left to play for but pride and maybe a top half of the table, manager Brendan Rodgers took the opportunity to play...pretty much his strongest available XI: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, James Justin, James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Ademola Lookman, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.
The match started in an open fashion, with both sides getting forward in numbers at every opportunity. Chances, if not goals, started flowing on the ten-minute mark. Canaries’ keeper Angus Gunn got down well do parry a shot from distance by Madders. Vardy was the quickest to the rebound, but his goal-bound effort was turned aside when it looked like it was in. KDH found Maddison alone on the right, but Gunn did well again to turn the near-post shot around the post.
At the other end, a ball over the top carved the Foxes’ defence open, finding Tony Springett on the penalty spot in space. Schmeichel got out to smother the shot, but it dropped to Teemu Pukki. The Danish stopper got a strong hand on the ball to save what looked a sure goal.
The rest of the half was very much “more of the same.” Dewsbury-Hall did incredible work on the left to set up Lookman from close range, but Gunn somehow kept it out. There were chances and half chances and almost no faffing about in the midfield, which made for an entertaining 45 minutes of football.
I don’t normally do this, but: A story in two tweets:
Now a huge ironic cheer as #LCFC successfully defend a corner. Understandable but not sure that actually helps.— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerLCFC) May 11, 2022
WE DID NOT CONCEDE FROM A CORNER!!!— Jason Bourne (@JasonBourne1986) May 11, 2022
At the death, Pukki should have given the visitors the lead. He beat Amartey by causing a huge gravity surge where the Ghana defender was standing, resulting in his falling down. Alone against Schmeichel, he slid the ball under the keeper but it came off the post when it seemed almost sure to find the back of the net.
The gaffer made one change at the half, introducing Nampalys Mendy for Lookman. Honestly, it could have been either wide man who went off because neither offered much in the first half, but Rodgers must have known something (he said, demonstrating the high-quality literary technique known as “foreshadowing”).
It was going to take something ridiculous to beat Gunn on his form today, but “ridiculous” is Vardy’s stock and trade. The former Fleetwood Town man made a diagonal run to latch on to Barnes’ reverse ball. His shot was blocked by Grant Hanley, but it spun off the defender’s back heel, over Gunn, and into the net.
The second came from an identical run only four minutes later, and this one was vintage Vardy. The former England man once again got across the defender to receive Barnes’ pass and this time, smashed it first time with his left foot. Gunn could do nothing but watch as it crashed into the roof of the net.
If the match wasn’t already settled, Madders put it beyond reach on 70’s Dewsbury-Hall was the provider this time, firing in a low cross from the left. Gunn got to it before it could reach Vardy, but he only parried it as far as Maddison. The former Canary hit it first time, rippling the roof of the net and giving the Foxes an insurmountable lead and the match’s final margin.
Yes, there were twenty more minutes of football to be played, and played they were, albeit in third gear. City remained the more likely to add to their tally but were unable to do so. The referee, Simon Hooper, blew the whistle after precisely one minute of time added on and the Foxes finally had a win.
“It was only Norwich City” I can hear you say, and you’re not wrong: The only thing keeping this Norwich side from being historically bad is that they’re just not exciting enough to make history. However, clubs have seen huge upticks in their form when playing against Leicester of late and it’s hugely satisfying to see such a comprehensively strong performance regardless of the opposition.
Is this team better with Jamie Vardy in it? You should feel ashamed for asking. He was a constant menace, could easily have had four, and never, ever stopped working. There are leaders who yell at people, leaders who instruct, and there are leaders who lead by example. Every other player on the pitch should be watching him and telling themselves “If this immortal feels the need to work so hard, how could I hope to prosper on less effort?”*
Next week it will be 10 years since we announced this man would join us,who would of ever imagined what was to follow!! Surely Legend status.... well he will be for me @vardy7 @markmanderfield @LCFC #vardy #lcfc #foxes #legend #Leicester #leicestercity pic.twitter.com/JsiEQnJreF— jim payne (@HTBREPAIRS) May 11, 2022
The victory gives us 45 points from 35 matches and sees us climb back to the (bottom of the) top half of the table. On Sunday, we travel to Hertfordshire to face Watford at Vicarage Road. We face Chelsea in London next Thursday before closing out the campaign at home against Southampton on the 22nd.
* On the off chance that anyone cares, this is a paraphrase of what Curt Flood said about Stan Musial: “Musial also helped, mainly by working as hard as he did on his own perfect swing. If this immortal felt the need for frequent extra practice, how could I hope to prosper on less effort?”