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FA Cup Match Report: Leicester City 1 - 2 Blackburn Rovers

Foxes Get Exactly What They Deserved. Unfortunately.

Leicester City v Blackburn Rovers: Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Leicester City were bounced out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers by a score of 2-1 at the King Power on Tuesday evening. Goals on either side of halftime by Tyrhys Dolan and Sammie Szmodics gave the Foxes a huge hill to climb. Substitute and resident King of the FA Cup Kelechi Iheanacho got one back, but City couldn’t find an equaliser to keep their cup run alive.

The gaffer made six changes to the starting XI that lost to Arsenal on Saturday, handing Ricardo Pereira his first start of the season: Daniel Iversen, Ricardo, Daniel Amartey, Wout Faes, Luke Thomas, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Boubakary Somare, Dennis Praet, Tete, Harvey Barnes, Jamie Vardy (C).

The Foxes came out of the gates with an intermittently effective high press, signalling intent to keep the Championship side under pressure. The visitors were extremely fortunate not to have gone behind on only 7’ as a fine team move found Tete in space on the left side of the area. The Brazilian’s curled effort was well saved by keeper Aynsley Pears, who could only parry it to Praet in the centre of the area. His shot cleared a sea of legs but Pears did well again to make the second save in quick succession.

The Lancashire side had a great chance to take the lead on 17’ when Amartey was caught in possession on the right flank. Rovers worked the ball around and found Sammie Szmodics in acres of space. The midfielder bore down on Iversen and his shot looked goal bound, but the Great Dane 2.0 stuck out a leg and made the save.

Rovers absolutely should have scored just before the half-hour mark. Pears hoofed it long. Amartey nodded it back and directly into the path of Szmodics who was one-on-one with Iversen again. Instead of shooting, he squared it for Tyrhys Dolan who turned it goalwards, but Iversen made a spectacular save when you were sure the back of the net was going to bulge.

In our tradition of failing to heed warning klaxons, Amartey was not to be denied. He once again gave the ball away needlessly, passing the ball directly to Dolan. This time, the winger cut inside and curled his shot around Iversen and giving Rovers a richly deserved lead.

Fair point about Iversen, but I’m not sure he was the main culprit here.

The rest of the half was marked by sloppy passes, players not on the same page as each other, and Rovers lying deep and daring a Maddison- and Tielemans-free Leicester side to break them down. Spoiler alert: They could not. It was an exercise in frustration and some very poorly taken set pieces. Halftime couldn’t come soon enough for the Foxes, who were less “out of ideas” but “labouring under the suspicion that there were no ideas to begin with.”

Things picked back up where we left them with the same XI for both sides. As per usual, and you’re probably tired of my saying this, the run of play changed not one whit. This was Exceedingly Bad News for Leicester supports as the visitors doubled their advantage in just five minutes. Thomas gave the ball away to Sam Gallagher on the wing. The big man slid it to Szmodics in the middle, who somehow dribbled directly through Ricardo and then Amartey (not around them; I meant what I said), and slotted home from close range.

It would have been three almost immediately afterwards as Amartey was again beaten by Szmodics, but the extremely busy Iversen came to the rescue and turned the ball around the post with his knee. Brendan Rodgers had seen enough and then some, immediately withdrawing Thomas and Praet in favour of Victor Kristiansen and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Things remained completely chaotic, and the Foxes were fortunate not to concede two or three more over the next five minutes. No, really. It was that bad. However, “chaos” was our best chance to get back in the match (as opposed to “trying to break down a packed defence”), and City got one back on 65’. Barnes finally beat his man on the left and squared it for Iheanacho. The Seniorman smashed home from close range to give Leicester a lifeline we scarcely deserved.

Leicester City v Blackburn Rovers: Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
Well done, Harvey. Non-zero chance I could have finished that one.
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Rodgers, seeing his substitutions have an impact, went all-in, introducing Patson Daka, Nampalys Mendy, and Timothy Castagne for Ricardo, Soumare, and Tete. Chaos continued to reign, but Blackburn did just enough to keep the Foxes at bay through most of it. Barnes had an opportunity 80’, but his effort perfectly split the difference between a shot into the far corner and a curling cross finding Vardy’s run in the centre.

And so it went. City huffed and puffed and narrowly missed an equaliser several times, with Iheanacho going close with a curling effort, Mendy blasting just wide, and Amartey hitting the post from a corner. It just wasn’t going to happen, and, in fairness, we really didn’t deserve for it to happen.

If for some reason your sole wish in life was to see Leicester City carved open by a Championship side so completely that our only hope was that they would be overconfident, then today was the answer to your prayers. For the rest of is, it was tough to watch. After a nervy start, Rovers learned that they could press our back line without fear and they made their press count. I cannot wait to read Tanner’s player ratings, but that is because I am a guy who likes to savor a bad time.

You look at this side and think “That should be good enough to handle Blackburn,” or perhaps you would had you not seen this act so many times before. Iversen, Amartey, Thomas, and Soumare were all rusty and it showed. Things were so wide open at the back that you have to question why it took so long to make any changes. This wasn’t a failure of effort or desire; the XI we put out there just weren’t good enough and that hurts.

Look, losing to Blackburn Rovers isn’t a shameful thing. They’re 10 places below us and playing really well right now. No, the shame is in losing the way we did, when the scoreline flattered us and they were, and I wish I was kidding about this, toying with us. Every time they came forward, there were acres of space and defenders in places where you wouldn’t expect, or want defenders.

Leicester City Training Session and Press Conference
The commentators said this of Amartey during the match: “Amartey’s positioning there was extraordinary. He completely vacated the central position and almost paid the price for it.” This was immediately prior to the first goal.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

The defeat means that our weekdays are going to be pretty free as we have no cup involvement going forward. We square off against Southampton at the St. Mary’s on Saturday. The following week, we host scrappy underdogs Chelsea at the King Power.