Vardy double earns vital victory for City

City 2 Borussia Monchengladbach 1

Report by Colin Hall

Two goals from England striker Jamie Vardy secured a win for Leicester City over Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach in the Foxes' final game before the start of the 2017-18 Premier League.

The result and performance will have eased tensions among a fanbase somewhat unnerved by a series of indifferent displays in recent days. A promising (albeit truncated) cameo performance by new signing Kelechi Iheanacho as a second-half substitute also helped to improve the mood.

News that midfielder Danny Drinkwater would be absent for this clash sent online rumour mills into overdrive. The club subsequently explained that he had suffered a knock in training, but this did not entirely quell speculation about a possible move to Chelsea.

The Foxes, sporting an all-white third kit, began the game strongly, with Vardy sending an effort narrowly wide after just three minutes. However, the visitors responded strongly, with Vestergaard forcing a save from Schmeichel before Stindl fired wildly over from close range.

As the action ebbed and flowed during an open, entertaining first half, Marc Albrighton and Wilfrid Ndidi both came close to giving City the lead, though Schmeichel was called into action again to deny a strike from Hazard.

But the Belgian, brother of Chelsea's Eden, found the scoresheet just nineteen seconds after the break, being left unmarked to fire home from 20 yards after a swift passing move from the visitors had unlocked the City defence.

The home side stepped up a gear in efforts to force a leveller, with Harry Maguire, Vardy and Shinji Okazaki all bringing fine saves from Gladbach keeper Sommer. Meanwhile Vestergaard earned the ire of the crowd when a Vardy challenge produced an over-reaction rather more suited for Curve than the King Power Stadium.

Midway through the second half, Craig Shakespeare made a double substitution which was to turn the course of the game. Iheanacho was given a warm welcome when he replaced Okazaki, but the reception for Riyad Mahrez, who came on for Albrighton, was somewhat more mixed.

Nevertheless, the breakthrough came a matter of seconds later, as Vardy raced on to a Matty James through ball to beat the Gladbach offside trap and sidefoot past Sommer.

Seven minutes later, the turnaround was completed as James and Mahrez combined brilliantly to send Iheanacho clear. The Nigerian had the chance to mark his debut for a goal, but instead squared the ball for his strike partner to put City ahead.

Although the substitute showed some useful touches, and linked up well with Vardy, the protracted transfer saga preceding his arrival at City, which cost him valuable training and game time, has had a clear impact on his match fitness.

When he struggled to shrug off an ankle knock sustained in a heavy challenge from visiting midfielder Benes, Shakespeare decided the prudent course of action was to take him off. The post-match news that the injury was not a serious one came as a considerable relief to the Foxes faithful.

City were able to see out the closing minutes with few undue alarms, and thus secure a confidence-boosting victory ahead of next week's trip to Arsenal.

There still remains plenty for Shakespeare to consider, though. While he will have been pleased by the performances of Schmeichel, Maguire, James, Ndidi and Vardy, other areas of the side remain a work in progress. Neither full-back had the best of evenings, while Demarai Gray, giving a starting berth in preference to Mahrez, failed to make full use of the opportunity handed to him.

The suspicion remains that City remain short of where they need to be in order to present a credible challenge at the Emirates. But there is sufficient quality in the squad to ensure that the season ahead should not be dominated by worries about relegation. 

City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Simpson (Amartey 81), Morgan (c), Maguire, Fuchs; Albrighton (Mahrez 66), James, Ndidi (Iborra 72), Gray (Lawrence 81); Okazaki (Iheanacho 66 (Ulloa 84)), Vardy.

Goals: Vardy (67, 74)

Subs not used: Jakupovic, Hamer, Benalouane, Chilwell, King, Musa.

Referee: Andre Marriner

Attendance: 12 385

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation