Leicester City caught fire in the second period and saw off bottom-of-the-table Rotherham United by a score of 3-0 at the King Power on Saturday afternoon. A goalless first half that was very much a reflection of the run of play left the Foxes 45 minutes to try to win their final home match of 2023. They did so in style, scoring three times through via a Patson Daka brace and a Cesare Casadei header.
Even the best teams struggle to break down a well-organised defence, and that was very much in evidence today. The difference between this side and past Leicester squads is that there’s some belief behind the patience. Plus, we have better players than our opponents. That seems important. Anyway, there was no sense of panic when the hour mark rolled around and the match was still 0-0. The pressure was slow in building but inexorable in force and the result wasn’t merely expected; it was inevitable.
Daka has to be the Man of the Match and he did his “be in the right place at the right time” bit very well. With the wings clipped a little and no space for the #8s, a lot of pressure fell on Ricardo, Winks, and the back line. They were all outstanding today, keeping the ball moving and slowly drawing the Millers out of their shape. I don’t know Enzo Maresca’s mind (or have access to his post-match press conference), but I expect he’ll be well pleased with most of what transpired today.
The victory gives the Foxes 58 points from 23 matches. We remain top of the table, now 6 points clear of Ipswich Town and remaining 13 points ahead of Leeds United in third. This match marks the half-way point of the season, so even a maths-challenged writer like myself can calculate that our current pace is 116 points. It is extremely unlikely we will achieve that number, but it demonstrates just how good we’ve been for quite a long stretch.
Speaking of the Tractor Boys, we visit Portman Road on Boxing Day for a top-of-the-table clash. Next Friday, we travel to Wales to face Cardiff City. We’ll close out the festive period with a New Year’s Day clash with Huddersfield Town at the King Power.
Leicester City: Mads Hermansen, Ricardo Pereira (C), Wout Faes, Jannik Vestergaard, James Justin, Wilfred Ndidi, Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Abdul Fatawu, Stephy Mavididi, Patson Daka
Rotherham United: Victor Johansson, Sean Morrison, Sebastian Revan, Hakeem Odoffin, Cohen Bramall, Dexter Lembikisa, Christ Tiehi, Oliver Rathbone, Jamie Lindsay, Sam Nombe
Key Moments and Notes
1’- Yes, that’s former Leicester keeper Victor Johansson in the goal for the Millers. He seemed a bit of a rough diamond for us last year. His shot-stopping was solid, but his distribution wasn’t quite there yet.
5’- Rotherham are setting up very deep and extremely compact. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to exactly no one.
9’- The Foxes have the ball in the back of the net, but it’s long after the flag went up for offside. It’s a fine ball over the top from Faes to Mavididi, but it comes a moment too late. Honestly? The winger is a little fortunate to have avoided a yellow for shooting long after the whistle.
14’- Faes and Hugill try to tear each other’s shirts off like a space raptor and an anthropomorphic representation of linear time in a novel by two-time Hugo Award finalist Chuck Tingle. The foul is given against the Belgian, but it could have gone either way.
15’- Vis-a-vis that last note: Ricardo has lined up at left-back and to the left of Winks in midfield with James Justin at right-back. Let’s see how many other obvious things I can cleverly notice a quarter-hour into the match!
24’- A couple of long throws from Morrison cause problems in the Leicester box but the Foxes are able to clear them belatedly. If the Millers find a goal, that’s the most likely route.
34’- Bramall bursts forward for the visitors. He’s been outstanding for the visitors today, marshalling Fatawu as well as anyone has. The Ghanaian does well to track back and nick the ball off the fullback which seems only fair.
44’- (should have been) Close!- Fatawu find Ndidi in space 10 yards from goal and the only defender is standing on the goal line. You can see the cognitive dissonance on the Nigerian’s face: “I’ve never seen such an open goal. What do I do?” Instead of doing the obvious thing (shooting), he curls a cross towards the back post and Mavididi can’t quite win it.
HALF TIME: Leicester City 0 - 0 Rotherham United
46’- No changes at the half for either side. It was lovely to hear Christian Fuchs on the Foxes Hub feed during the break. It’s really not fair that a play as good as he was is a telegenic as he is.
48’- Close! A heavy touch from Revan allows Fatawu to nip in. The defender hauls the Leicester player back by grabbing his shirt with both hands, but the ball runs to Daka who fires from close range. Johansson is beaten, but a centre-half slides in to clear it off the line. VAR would have awarded the penalty because this was the very definition of “clear and obvious.”
55’- Maresca makes his first change, swapping Fatawu for Yunus Akgun. Not the player I was expecting to see withdrawn. Maybe the gaffer has an eye on Boxing Day?
57’- Close! Ricardo and Dewsbury-Hall combine well in close quarters. The fullback pokes a shot towards goal from close range but Johansson parries it. He collects it the second time, with Ricardo lurking. Tiehi and Odoffin shove the Portugal man over the keeper and then ask the ref for a foul. #Cheeky
60’- GOAL! Faes carries the ball forward and plays a one-two with Ricardo. The defender bursts into the area and fires a shot across goal the Johansson parries as far as Ndidi. Wilf gets a toe to it but it spins wildly to the left...and directly to Daka. He’s a yard out and can’t miss.
65’- GOAL! Yunus wins the ball deep in the Millers’ half. The ball spins behind the Rotherham defence and Daka beats Johansson to it. The keeper swipes his right hand at the ball and catches the Zambian’s foot. The referee gives a penalty and thus only a yellow. The former Salzburg striker takes the penalty himself and doubles Leicester’s lead. If we’re being honest here, that foul was outside the area. Should have been a free kick and red.
70’- Maresca brings on some fresh legs, taking off KDH and Ndidi for Cesare Casadei and Dennis Praet. If we weren’t looking ahead to Ipswich Town, we are now.
#LCFC xG currently 2.65. Rotherham's is 0.02. The defended doggedly first half but this has been one of the most one-sided games I can remember.— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerLCFC) December 23, 2023
72’- GOAL! Now that looked like a Leicester City move. Praet plays a clever ball underneath to find Ricardo’s run into the box. The captain takes a touch and then lofts a cross over the keeper with his left boot. Casadei times his run perfectly and meets the ball with a diving header.
77’- Two more changes for the Foxes as Justin and Ricardo come off for Hamza Choudhury and Harry Souttar. The Loughborough Baggio takes the Captain’s armband.
90’- Five minutes of time are added on. You can probably tell from the lack of updates that the match expired some time ago and we’re just waiting for the coroner to call it.
90+4’- Faes goes off on another run and tries to play a through ball to Mavididi in the area. The winger was offside and there was too much on the ball, but other than that, it was perfect. Look, there’s not much happening now.
FULL TIME: Leicester City 3 - 0 Rotherham United
On November 23 2002 my Dad took me to a Leicester game and I fell in love with the Foxes.— Christian Hewgill (@ChrisHewgill) December 23, 2023
We played Rotherham and won 2-1. 21 years later we once again went to a game. We played Rotherham and won 3-0. #LCFC pic.twitter.com/R0C6e2lqpo
Bad news Christian: It may be a good while before we see the Millers at the King Power again.