Wolves 0 City 0 (City win 3 – 1 on penalties)
Report by Colin Hall
Goalkeeper Danny Ward proved to be Leicester City's hero as the Foxes advanced to the 3rd round of the Carabao Cup with a 3-1 penalty shootout victory over hosts Wolves.
The Welshman, deputising for the rested Kasper Schmeichel, kept his second clean sheet in as many City appearances, and then saved three spot-kicks during a tension-filled finale to the evening's proceedings.
It was a sign of the times at City that Claude Puel, despite making eight changes to the starting line-up from Saturday's victory over Huddersfield, was still able to name a starting line-up containing NINE full internationals.
Yet with the exception of Ward, and possibly Vicente Iborra too, none of the understudies made an entirely convincing case to be considered to start in the regular side.
As the 0-0 scoreline suggests, neither side were quite able to find a cutting edge to break the deadlock in normal time.
Despite being forced to defend for lengthy spells, and seeing strikers struggle to make an impact against a three-man home central defence, City produced the bulk of the scoring opportunities, but could not find a means to convert any of them.
The closest the visitors came to finding the net was shortly after the half-hour, when a Rachid Ghezzal header was cleared off the line by home skipper Coady. Marc Albrighton also saw a number of efforts blocked by keeper Ruddy.
Wolves' closest effort came deep into second-half stoppage-time when substitute Bennett outjumped the City defence at a free-kick but saw his header fly narrowly over the bar.
Seconds later, City sub Demarai Gray caused a major worry to the travelling supporters when he collapsed in obvious distress following an awkward fall. He was treated for several minutes before being stretchered away, but later tests revealed damage to ligaments rather than (as initially feared) bones.
Nevertheless, he is still likely to be sidelined for some time, and the incident provided a reminder why many top-flight managers, including Puel and home counterpart Nuno Espirito Santo, are reluctant to field key players at this stage of the competition.
Although reduced to 10 men for the second time this season against these opponents, City were able to see out the closing moments and thus secure the opportunity to progress via the shootout.
Given the side's recent record in such deciders – including defeats by Hull and Manchester City in this competition – few in the Foxes fanbase were optimistic of success, particularly when Christian Fuchs, City's first penalty taker, struck the woodwork with his attempt.
The club needed Ward to rise to the occasion, and he did so in no uncertain terms, denying Saiss and Jota in quick succession. Although Hamza Choudhury gave some hope to the home side with a tame effort sent straight at Ruddy, Ward restored the visitors' advantage with a save from Traore.
This gave Kelechi Iheanacho the chance to seal City's victory, and the Nigeria striker made no mistake, displaying a composure which has not always been in evidence during his time at the club.
But while the Blue Army retain hopes of a trip to Wembley, Puel will be aware that improvements will be needed to make those dreams a reality.
Too many of the players on duty at Molineux failed to do themselves justice, and some may not be seen again in a City shirt for some time.
Wolves (3-4-3): Ruddy; Dendoncker, Coady (c), Hause; Otto (Bennett 75), Saiss, Gibbs-White, Vinaigre; Traore, Bonatini (Ashley-Seal 83), Cavaleiro (Jota 57). Subs not used: Norris, Giles, Watt, Goncalves.
City (4-2-3-1): Ward: Ricardo, Morgan (c), Evans, Fuchs; Iborra, Silva (Choudhury 84); Ghezzal, Okazaki (Gray 61), Albrighton; Vardy (Iheanacho 61). Subs not used: Jakupovic, Amartey, Soyuncu, Diabate.
Booked: Morgan, Evans.
Fuchs (Leicester) – missed 0-0
Saiss (Wolves) – saved 0-0
Ghezzal (Leicester) – scored 0-1
Jota (Wolves) – saved 0-1
Choudhury (Leicester) – saved 0-1
Ashley-Seal (Wolves) – scored 1-1
Iborra (Leicester) – scored 1-2
Traore (Wolves) – saved 1-2
Iheanacho (Leicester) – scored 1-3
Referee: Paul Tierney Attendance: 21562
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