Sheffield Utd 1 City 4
Report by Colin Hall
Four second-half goals saw Leicester City progress to the third round of the League Cup as they came through a potential banana-skin fixture with a 4-1 victory at Championship hosts Sheffield United.
With Saturday's trip to early-season pacesetters Manchester United in mind, Craig Shakespeare opted to rest many of his first-choice players for this cup clash. But the side he fielded were able to make quality tell against a home side who were also well below full-strength.
Harry Maguire, returning to his boyhood club, was one of the few players retained from the previous game. He gave the travelling Foxes a fright in the opening minutes when a heavy late challenge from home wing-back Lafferty saw him require treatment. Fortunately for him and City, though, he was able to resume with no lasting ill-effects.
The visitors were given two further scares during a frenetic first half. After 22 minutes, Ben Hamer allowed a long-range effort from Brooks to squirm under his body, but recovered the ball in time to stop it entering the goal.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Islam Slimani came close to collecting a second yellow card after a slightly-mistimed challenge on Wright, but referee Harrington resisted the clamour from home fans to dismiss the City striker.
Despite pressing for long spells, City had created few clear-cut chances in the final third. After the break, though, the forwards showed far more ruthlessness.
The breakthrough came after 52 minutes, when Demarai Gray collected a long cross-field pass from Leo Ulloa, waltzed through the home defence, and fired past home keeper Eastwood for his first goal in over six months.
Brooks again forced Hamer into action as the home side responded strongly, but City struck on the break after 63 minutes, when Ulloa and Andy King sent Slimani clear to round Eastwood and extend the lead.
As the Foxes moved in for the kill, only a brilliant Eastwood save denied Gray a second goal. The visitors, though, continued their onslaught and Slimani converted a Gray cross to net his second with a slightly mis-hit shot from close range.
At this stage, City might have been forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal and seeing the game out. To their credit, though, they kept momentum going and Slimani was unfortunate to be denied a hat-trick by a marginal (and as TV replays indicated, inaccurate) offside call.
With ten minutes remaining, Maguire, having kept former team-mate Evans firmly in check for most of the evening, left the field to generous applause from all four sides of Bramall Lane, to be replaced by debutant Josh Knight.
Shortly afterwards, the home side found a glimmer of hope when a mis-hit Lavery cross-shot caught Hamer slightly out of position and the keeper could only help the ball into the net at the near post.
But the home side's efforts to force a second goal and set up a grandstand finale were snuffed out by a City defence showing rather more resolve than has often been witnessed on our travels during recent months.
Indeed, it was a City striker who had the final say, when Ahmed Musa, whose tenacity had seen him rescue an indifferent performance, forced the ball home at the second attempt in stoppage time to restore the three-goal margin of victory.
Shakespeare was able to reflect in post-match interviews on a job well done, accomplished without serious injuries and featuring several impressive performances from fringe players.
However, tougher challenges lie ahead in the coming weeks, and City will need similar levels of resilience and professionalism in order to meet them.
Sheffield United (5-3-2): Eastwood; Baldock (Coutts 68), O'Connell, Wright (c) (Basham 68), Freeman, Lafferty; Lundstram, Brooks, Carruthers; Lavery, Evans (Sharp 62). Unused subs: Stevens,Thomas, Duffy, Blackman.
Goal: Lavery (82).
Booked: Lafferty, Lundstram.
City (4-4-2): Hamer; Amartey, Maguire (Knight 80), Fuchs, Chilwell; Musa, Ndidi (Mendy 77), King (c), Gray; Ulloa, Slimani. Unused subs: Jakupovic, Mahrez, Albrighton, Vardy, Okazaki.
Goals: Gray (52), Slimani (63, 67), Musa (90 +3).
Bookings: Musa, Slimani.
Referee: Tony Harrington Attendance: 11,280
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