Leicester City 3 v West Bromwich Albion 0
King Power Stadium, 22 April 2021.
Report by Colin Murrant
It seems so much has happened since The Foxes last played an EPL game and, after the semi-final victory and the distractions of the ESL, it felt good to be back at base chasing three points to further Champions League ambitions. Whilst the joy of the Cup semi-final was immense it was somewhat tempered by the ESL news.
The two positives taken from the ESL debacle were the solidity of the fans of all clubs and, above all, the reinforcement of the knowledge that LCFC’s owners differ from others in that they care passionately about their supporters and the Community.
West Bromwich Albion arrived at The King Power on the back of resounding victories against City’s nearest challengers in the League, Chelsea and also Southampton. Rodgers made two changes with Thomas coming in for Ricardo and Maddison for Perez.
If there were any concerns that City players would be distracted by the Wembley date in May, these were soon forgotten as City almost went ahead in the second minute. Iheanacho just inside the Albion half manged to dispossess Townsend and was in on goal. His touch, as he got into the area, was too hard and Johnstone forced the striker wide; Iheanacho retained possession but the chance was gone. Almost immediately an Albion attack saw a good pass from Pereira set up Diagne but the striker scuffed his shot. At this stage the match was being played at a good tempo and the visitors were having good periods but by the quarter of an hour mark City were taking full control and rarely looked in trouble thereafter.
Castange, playing in his favoured right wing-back position was increasingly prominent and, with Maddison at his creative best, City began to find lots of space. The breakthrough came on 23 minutes as Tielemans found Castange with a pass that split The Baggies defence: he sped unchallenged into the box and squared to Vardy who broke his long drought as he confidently arced the ball past Johnstone.
This stared a 13-minute purple patch for City as first Evans scored as he met a deflected corner from Tielemans, followed by Iheanacho’s now customary goal. Evans’s goal was almost embarrassingly simple as he seemed to stroll through a host of stationary defenders. Iheanacho’s goal was a classic move, Thomas played his part as he broke forward down the left and fed Vardy: Vardy broke into the area and nutmegged the defender before laying the ball to Iheanacho, the forward had run in on goal then dropped back 2 metres to gain space, he received the ball, controlled it then buried it beyond the despairing keeper.
Between the second and third goal the woodwork was hit twice as first Castange hit the foot of the far post as he shot from the right, then Pereira took a corner which skimmed the top of the City crossbar, although Schmeichel had the air of someone in control of the situation. Iheanacho should have scored as good work from Maddison and Castagne set him up but, although his first tough was delightful, he managed to hit row ‘Z’ with his shot. Just before the break, and after a long period of City possession, Fofana gave the ball away and Phillips strode forward and shot strongly but Schmeichel saved.
Albion had been shocking in the first half, they looked uninterested, unmotivated and disorganised: things not associated with Big Sam’s teams. The second half followed a similar pattern although for Leicester the game was won and there was no need to go chasing further goals. City had long periods of control and finished the game with over 70% possession. There was a lot less goal mouth action although on the hour Schmeichel took a blow in the face as he was challenged by Bartley following a rare Albion corner.
Vardy tried a shot from the halfway line as an Albion player let the ball run as he thought it was going out of play: Vardy was quickly onto the ball, looked up and saw Johnstone off his line, but his shot was weak and well wide. Perez, on for Maddison was put through on goal but was pulled back by Bartley just outside the box. It was the merest of touches but the defender was booked, the resultant free-kick from Iheanacho beating the wall but easily saved by the keeper.
And so, it ended with City three points nearer their dream of Champions League and Albion one match nearer the drop, it was quite remarkable that Albion were so poor when they tore into, and put five goals past, Chelsea only recently. The Foxes now have a few days rest to prepare for Monday night against Crystal Palace. All in all a most satisfactory week as City march forward on two fronts and seem to be getting back to their best.
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Thomas, Fofana (62), Soyuncu, Evans, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison (72); Iheanacho, Vardy (85). Subs : Ward, Pereira, Amartey, Albrighton (62), Perez (72), Praet (85), Mendy, Choudhury, Under
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, O’Shea, Bartley, Townsend; Maitland-Niles, Yokuslu, Pereira (73), Phillips, Robinson (45); Diagne (61). Subs : Button, Ajayi (45), Peltier, Gallagher, Sawyers, Livermore, Diangana, Grant (73), Robson-Kanu (61)
Referee : Andy Madley
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