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Match Report: Cardiff City 0 - 2 Leicester City

Dewsbury-Hall and Justin strike as the Foxes increase their margin at the top of the table

Cardiff City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Recap

Leicester City returned to their winnings ways, putting Cardiff City to the sword by a score of 2-0 in Wales on Monday night. The Foxes led at the break through Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s close-range strike. The visitors doubled their lead midway through the second period via a belter from distance courtesy of James Justin. The Bluebirds tried to muster a late flurry but couldn’t breach the Leicester back line.

Both goalscorers had fine matches, which is usually the case when a player scores a goal. Dewsbury-Hall’s ability to find another gear on the break is well beyond anything I thought he had in him, and Justin was especially good defensively at left-back, winning balls left and right (but mostly left). That said, I’d give the game ball to Fatawu. Matt Elliott suggested that he might enjoy defending more than attacking. That’s saying something as he attacks with supreme verve, but I think Matty is right: Fatawu is an incredibly hard-working winger who gets stuck in on defense. Let’s just go ahead and buy him now.

This wasn’t a beautiful match. Both sides played sloppy balls and looked to be at odds with each other. There were long periods of unmemorable football, but the Foxes were always on top. The fatigue of the festive period is starting to set in and Maresca hasn’t been rotating his squad. It will be interesting to see if this remains the case on New Year’s Day.

Many of our best matches have been played on wet grounds. This was not one of them.

The victory gives the Foxes 62 points from 25 matches. We remain top of the table and, with Ipswich settling for a draw against QPR, our cushion is now 8 points. We remain 11 above third-place Southampton. We ring in the New Year on Monday against Rotherham United at the King Power. Next Saturday, we venture to the New Den to face off against Millwall in the third round of the FA Cup.

Lineups

Leicester City: Mad Hermansen, Hamza Choudhury (C), Wout Faes, Jannik Vestergaard, James Justin, Wilfred Ndidi (Cesare Casadei 69’), Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Abdul Fatawu, Stephy Mavididi, Patson Daka (Tom Cannon 82’)

Cardiff City: Jak Alnwick, Mark McGuinness, Dimitrios Goutas, Jamilu Collins, Peter Ng, Manolis Siopis, Joe Ralls, Ryan Wintle, Kion Etete, Karlan Grant, Josh Bowler


Key Moments and Notes

3’- The Bluebirds are playing two midfielders just in front of the back four. The possession stats are probably going to be a little lopsided tonight.

8’- It’s worth noting that Kelechi Iheanacho isn’t in the squad tonight, nor is Dennis Praet. I’m sure they’re both in the “picked up a knock in training” category, but no explanation has been provided.

11’- For the first time, the Foxes find a little space in the Cardiff half with Mavididi getting the ball wide on the left. He tries to find KDH’s run into the box but puts far too much on it and it rolls out for a goal kick.

14’- Close! Fatawu gets the ball on the right wing, cuts inside, and curls a beauty of an inswinger to the far post. Dewsbury-Hall arrives at the perfect time and heads back across the keeper. Alnwick gets a strong hand to it and parries to safety. Spectacular save.

18’- GOAL! The Bluebirds play a dangerous pass across the top of their own penalty box. Fatawu pounces and nicks it off of Siopis. Dewsbury-Hall takes it off his toes, cuts onto his left boot, shoots across Alnwick and finds the inside of the net.

Cardiff City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship
I cannot emphasise this enough: He looks like he was born to wear this kit.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

30’- This is a strange match. Both sides look more annoyed with their own players than with their opponents. There are a lot of tired legs out there, but there’s also a lot of sloppy play. We’re seeing players turn around and give their teammate The Look...no, not that look. This The Look.

38’- Close-ish. Mavididi fires in a cross and it evades everyone and looks like it’s going to fall to the onrushing Fatawu. Instead, it falls well short and bounces too high for the Ghanaian to get a header on-target.

40’- Matt Elliott just described the match as “tepid.” He has the right of it.

45’- Well, that’s 45 minutes of my life I’m never getting back. Yes, I know. You never get any of your minutes back, even during the most enthralling of times. It’s an expression. Don’t take it literally. I just mean that this will not go down as the most memorable three-quarters of an hour I’ll ever spend.

HALF TIME: Swansea City 0 - 1 Leicester City

46’- No changes to either side at the half. As you were.

54’- GOAL! Fatawu plays in Ndidi, who crosses from the right. It’s cleared, but Fatawu wins it back in traffic and finds Justin in space. He’s dead centre, a good five yards outside the D. The fullback hits it as sweetly, curling it into the left corner. I feel for all of his future goals because he’ll never top this one.

Be sure to watch it before it’s taken down. It’s a bit special.

57’- Close! Leicester break down the centre through KDH. He finds Fatawu, who pulls it back for Ndidi. The Nigerian’s shot beats the keeper, but it’s cleared by a sliding Cardiff defender. That was really close.

60’- Close! Mavididi has the ball near the corner flag and looks to be going nowhere. He calmly nutmegs his defender and stands up a cross that Ndidi is going to power home, but a defender just gets there in front of him.

63’- I’m not going to say “close,” but the Bluebirds finally get a shot on target. Faes clears a cross and it drops to Siopis outside the area. His low effort lacks the power and positioning to beat Hermansen.

69’- Cesare Casadei comes on for Ndidi. It wasn’t Wilf’s most influential performance, but his runs into the area cleared a lot of space for Fatawu to operate.

73’- Close! Fatawu gets the ball in a wide position and drifts inside. Everyone can see he’s going to shape to shoot; it’s just a matter of “when.” He pulls the trigger from 23 yards and curls it...against the post! It rebounds to Daka, but it’s got too much pace for him to react and turn it into the net.

Cardiff City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship
Our future superstar and our industrious captain. Did I mention I really like these kits? Love them.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

76’- Close! Ruben Colwill makes a near turn at the edge of the box and fires in a low shot that’s going to sneak inside the near post. That’s a tidy save from Hermansen.

82’- Maresca makes another change, introducing Tom Cannon for Daka. It wasn’t a great outing from the Zambian as he seemed a little off the pace. That’s understandable when you don’t play all season and then start six matches in a row, I reckon.

87’- Cardiff score a lot of goals from corners, as you would know if you were watching the same feed as me. The commentators mention it every few minutes. Anyway, this is a nice little spell from the hosts and they do, in fact, look dangerous from corners.

90’- Close! Of course, a nice attacking spell means being a little vulnerable at the back. The Foxes get a chance to break and Dewsbury-Hall leads the charge. He shifts it to Mavididi, who puts his shot just wide. KDH is much faster than I thought.

90+5’- We’re deep into injury time now and the Foxes are doing a lot of defending, but you wouldn’t say they were just hanging on. Hamza Choudhury is putting in a captain’s shift tonight.

FULL TIME: Cardiff City 0 - 2 Leicester City