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Match Report: Stoke City 0 - 5 Leicester City

A Daka brace or a Vardy brace? Why not both?

Stoke City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Neal Simpson/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images

Recap

Leicester City defeated Stoke City by a score of 5-0 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Goals from Patson Daka and Kasey McAteer gave the Foxes a 2-0 lead at the break. As the rain poured down in the second half, so too did the goals. Daka scored a penalty to bag his brace and Jamie Vardy scored once from open play and once from the spot to complete the rout.

If you are just determined to be negative, you could convince yourself that the result was flattering because we scored from a dubious free kick, a huge deflection, and two penalties. The fact is that, while the ways in which we scored weren’t spectacular, we dominated the match and looked completely comfortable at 2-0. Winks and Ricardo were simply too calm in the centre of the park, shutting down attacks and getting the ball forward into dangerous areas. The Potters tried to turn the match into a brawl and Enzo’s charges were (mostly) too savvy to get drawn in.

Who was the man of the match? You could make an argument for a dozen players and I’m not exaggerating. This was yet another victory for Maresca’s system which seems entirely too sophisticated for the Championship (especially when you have a bunch of Premier League players to play it). The energy that Fatawu brings, and the balance he adds to our attack, make him my pick but I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong no matter who you select.

This highlights the fact that the Foxes didn’t need to strengthen themselves in the January window. It would have been nice, and there are some reasons why we should have, but unless something absurdly dramatic happens, we’re going to achieve our goal of immediate promotion back to the top flight.

Speaking of such things, the victory gives us 72 points from 30 matches. That total would have placed us 5th in the Championship last year. It’s good enough to remain top of the table this season, 11 points clear of second-place Southampton and a dozen ahead of Leeds for the second automatic promotion spot. One week from today we travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford. We return to the King Power on Tuesday the 13th to host Sheffield Wednesday.

Lineups

Leicester City: Mads Hermansen, Ricardo Pereira (C), Wout Faes, Jannik Vestergaard (Ben Nelson 46’), Callum Doyle, Kasey McAteer (Dennis Praet 46’), Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Abdul Fatawu, Stephy Mavididi (James Justin 69’), Patson Daka (Jamie Vardy 69’)

Stoke City: Jack Bonham, Ben Wilmot, Michael Rose, Jordan Thompson, Lynden Gooch, Ben Pearson, Wouter Burger, Luke Cundle, Tyrese Campbell, Mehdi Leris, Ki-Jana Hoever


Key Moments and Notes

8’- Close! Ricardo and Winks combine in midfield to break Stoke’s lines. The former Spurs midfielder picks out Fatawu on the right. He cuts inside and curls it toward the far corner, but there’s just a little too much pace and not enough curl.

11’- Few things put me in a worse mood in the morning than terrible coffee. I made this pot, so it’s nigh-undrinkable. Grrr. On the pitch, it’s all Leicester knocking the ball around Stoke trying to hit back on the break. Same as it ever was.

Great coffee mug, though.

14’- Close! It’s Fatawu as provider this time. His cross picks out Dewsbury-Hall, who couldn’t have done much more. It’s going to sneak in under the post but Bonham makes a terrific save.

15’- Close! Another corner, another chance. This time, Fatawu crosses to Daka at the far post. The ball has too much pace on it for the Zambia man to do anything but dive in and hope and he puts it wide.

20’- Close! Mavididi gets the ball in a dangerous area for the first time and he makes the most of it. He tears down the right channel and cuts it back for KDH. The midfielder scuffs his first-time effort, but he scuffs it badly enough that it’s going to pick out Daka if not for a last-ditch intervention.

26’- GOAL! The Foxes win a dubious free kick when Leris dives in and wins the ball but goes through Daka. The Potters win the ball back immediately but lose out to Dewsbury-Hall who gets a cross to the far post. Fatawu meets it and puts it back across the face of the goal instead of trying to score himself. Daka is in the right place and taps it home from close range.

27’- Close! The Foxes switch off from the restart and Tyrese Cambell is in! He’s behind the entire defence and tries to find the far corner, but Hermansen gets a leg to it. I

30’- GOAL! McAteer has the ball outside the left side of the area and there’s no one available to receive the ball. He decides to have a go with his left peg and it’s going to be an easy save until it takes a deflection off of Wilmot and leaves Bonham stranded. 2-0 to the Foxes.

Stoke City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship
Is it just me or does everyone we plug into the right-sided #8 role score?
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

34’- Close! That’s a goal-saving challenge from Ricardo. Suddenly, Stoke are playing like Barcelona. Sure, it’s the 2023/24 version of the Catalan side, but that’s still pretty tasty. Anyway, Leris gets the better of Doyle and slides a ball towards the onrushing Gooch in the centre. It’s going to be a tap-in, but Ricardo arrives at the last moment to preserve the two-goal margin.

39’- Gooch is down and the Foxes charge forward. McAteer loses out to Burger and the Stoke man sticks around to stand over his opponent and shout something. The winger takes exception to this, gets up, and shoves him in the chest. It’s just a yellow for McAteer, but it was a foolish thing to do and Maresca is furious.

45+1’- Close! Thompson, hugging the left touchline, lofts a Guppy-esque cross into the box. It finds Leris directly in front of goal, but the Algerian sends it almost straight into the air instead of towards the net. In fairness, it was bobbling quite a bit, but it was a real chance.

HALF TIME: Stoke City 0 - 2 Leicester City

46’- Two changes for the Foxes at the break. Ben Nelson and Dennis Praet are on for Vestergaard and McAteer. I’m not surprised to see McAteer come off after that shoving incident, but it’s a little concerning to see Vestergaard depart.

47’- Bae Jun-Ho is on for Stoke to settle things down. He does the opposite, going in late on Fatawu with his studs showing. It’s a yellow and he might be a little fortunate that’s all it is.

57’- It’s pouring out there now. My understanding is that this is not unusual for Stoke.

62’- What the heck was that? Praet gets wiped out in midfield but the referee plays advantage as the ball is sprayed out to Fatawu. The linesman flags the Ghana man for offside, so...what exactly was the advantage there?

64’- GOAL! Faes picks up the ball 45 yards from goal and charges through the entire Stoke defence until Thompson flies into him, buttocks-first, and wipes him out. It’s a penalty all day long. Daka’s penalty sends the keeper the wrong way, but he wasn’t saving that even if he guessed right.

69’- There’s a stoppage as Ki-Jana Hoever needs treatment for the hosts. Maresca makes two more changes, introducing Jamie Vardy and James Justin for Daka and Mavididi. Justin as a winger? Anything to avoid changing the tactics!

73’- GOAL! Simple as you like. Ricardo wins the ball deep in the Leicester half. He finds Winks in space in the centre. He redirects it to Justin on the right wing and he does a perfect Marc Albrighton impression, crossing it first time across into the box. Vardy arrives on cue and blasts it into the back of the net.

Stoke City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship
The day this man retires will instantly be the saddest Leicester moment for me.
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

76’- Close! Take a bow, Mads Hermansen! The Potters win a free kick and send it into the mixer. Jun-Ho’s header is going to go in but the former Brøndby keeper gets a hand to it. He can only parry it back in front of the goal. Wilmot fires from close range, but there’s no beating the Mads today.

84’- Hamza Choudhury comes on for Ricardo. There’s no indication of it on the scoresheet, but the Portuguese defender was absolutely brilliant today.

86’- Close! There have been several “Close!” efforts by the Foxes in the last 10 minutes, but this was by far the Close!-est. KDH charges down the left and he’s given ages to pick out his pass. He pulls it back for Praet who meets it in full flight and it’s going to go in off the underside of the bar before Bonham leaps to tip it over.

90+7’- GOAL! Vardy does remarkably well to rise above Rose to get on the end of a Choudhury clearance. He nods it to the onrushing Dewsbury-Hall who is going to make it five before Rose clumsily brings him down from behind. Both the referee looks almost apologetic when he points to the spot, but he has no choice. Vardy blasts it home from the spot.

FULL TIME: Stoke City 0 - 5 Leicester City