MANCHESTER CITY 2 LEICESTER CITY 5
Match Report by Paul Weston
Admit it – how many City fans feared the worst for our team against Manchester City on Sunday before the match, especially with the knowledge that N’didi would be sadly out for 12 weeks and that we were playing a back five with Daniel Amartey playing his first full match for a long time? It seemed like a damage limitation exercise. However, what took place will live in the memory for a long time…
All the news was about Manchester City’s injuries (my heart bleeds!) but they still decided to play Garcia instead of Stones and had a galaxy of stars able to score from every position. City had Johnny Evans back although not perhaps match fit. Ricardo was still sorely missed but with Castagne fitting in so well and quickly.
It did not take long for Man City to dominate possession and they scored in the third minute through Mahrez from a corner cleared by Justin. It just had to be him didn’t it but it was a wonderful shot with his right foot. Although City did not panic after the goal it seemed that we were playing too deep and, as our ball possession was so limited, I could not see how we could get anything out of the match. Vardy was playing almost in central midfield marking Rodri and therefore was receiving few touches of the ball. Barnes occasionally was breaking forward but the last touch let him down.
A Rodri headed goal was rightly ruled offside as the match progressed and, although Man City still had the lion’s share of possession, there were a few glimpses that City could break through the lines and get at Man City’s defence. After a great turn by Mendy in midfield Barnes slipped in Vardy who was clumsily brought down by Walker.
Vardy confidently scored the penalty to Edison’s right. 1-1 and, although against the run of play based on possession, it set up an intriguing second half. On Sky TV Graham Souness praised City’s tactics but I doubt if even the most fervent City fan would have predicted how the second half would have developed.
City made a compact start and clearly had gained confidence from the first half goal and a knowledge that their game plan was working. Guardiola brought on a striker, Delap, for Fernandino but, if anything, this played into City’s hands. City pressed Man City into their corner in the 53rd minute, Amartey set up Tielemans who fed a delightful ball through to Castagne on the right. He crossed low and Vardy with an exquisite flick scored at the near post. 2-1 to City. It was a goal of the highest quality and no doubt had every City fan jumping out of their armchairs at home.
City continued to look threatening, breaking through and swarming towards an increasingly panicky Man City defence. Ederson saved well from Barnes but soon after Vardy was played in and Garcia, this time, was the defender who clumsily brought down Vardy. This time he scored a perfectly placed penalty to Ederson’s left. 3-1 to City.
Worryingly Vardy started to limp but, as Praet was apparently more seriously injured, Maddison was brought on as substitute. He had only been on the pitch for a few minutes when, in an interchange with Justin and Barnes he picked up the ball on the left and, even though 25 yards out, sent a fabulous curling shot into the top corner beating Ederson all end up. It was a stunning strike and 4-1 to City.
Evans limped off to be replaced by Fuchs- hopefully not a serious injury – and Iheanacho replaced hat trick hero Vardy. There was still time for more action as Ake scored from a Man City corner, losing his marker Maddison easily. Then, unbelievably, Maddison was played in on the right and brought down, this time by Mendy. Tielemans confidently scored the penalty- his first goal for about 12 months. 5-2 to City and an amazing match ended.
So how do you sum up a match like that? For a start it brought cheer to us City fans in these strange times. When you woke up this morning it felt good didn’t it? Even better to read the churlish comments from Rodri that City were lucky. Rodgers tactics sometimes are criticised but, this time, against a top side, he got it spot on and the players did remarkedly well to take it on board and to concentrate on their game plan, despite going a goal down so early.
Vardy will rightly get the plaudits for his goals but I would find it difficult to name a man of the match as it was a wonderful team performance with no weaknesses and a masterful tactical strategy by Rodgers. Mendy, Amartey, Tielemans and Castagne were particularly outstanding. Mendy and Amartey have often been overlooked by City fans and it was heartening to see that they could play a more major role in the team this season.
So City sit on top of the Premiership table after three games. Enjoy!
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Garcia, Ake, Mendy, Rodrigo, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, Foden.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Castagne, Amartey, Soyuncu, Evans, Justin, Mendy, Tielemans, Praet, Barnes, Vardy.
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