Leicester City were defeated by Manchester City 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at the King Power. Both sides saw goals chalked off for offside in a scoreless first half. Goals by Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus after the break doomed the Foxes to a ninth home defeat in all competitions.
Manager Brendan Rodgers kept the faith with the 3-4-3 formation that has been used to devastating effect in recent weeks. Kasper Schmeichel captained the side from the back, marshalling a back three of Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, and Wesley Fofana. Marc Albrighton and Timothy Castagne manned the wings, flanking a midfield duo of Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi. Ayoze Perez started in the pocket just behind strikers Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Foxes were deeply fortunate not to go down on just five minutes. A deep cross was cleared as far as Fernandinho, who struck it first time from distance and beat Schmeichel at the near post. The ball went directly under Sergio Aguero, who was in an offside position, and the flag went up for offside. By the laws of the game it was the right call, but it you’ve certainly seen goals like that given.
After that early scare, the match settled into the rhythm one expects when playing Manchester City. The visitors bossed possession and pressed Leicester’s defenders whenever the Foxes won the ball back. Leicester looked to defend in numbers and hit on the break whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Play proceeded patiently for the next quarter hour with nothing but fractional chances for the Citizens and none for Leicester. On twenty minutes, Kevin De Bruyne blasted over, but the referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the area due to Ndidi being near the Belgium man without actually making any contact. KDB took the free kick and it was a beauty, beating Schmeichel but not the crossbar.
What an absolutely garbage free kick given to De Bruyne simply because he complained he was caught but wasn’t touched or impeded at all.
Referee is supposed to be certain of an infringement before he gives anything.
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) April 3, 2021
It’s be “bias” if I said it, which is fair, because I am biased.
For all the Citizens’ dominance, there were no shots on target until the 40’ mark. A throw-in deep in the Leicester half saw the ball fall to Riyad Mahrez in area. The former Leicester man sent Schmeichel the wrong way with his close range effort, but the Danish stopper stuck out a leg and did just enough to keep the ball out.
You may have noticed the lack of Leicester-related commentary here and there’s a reason for that. The Foxes did not attempt a shot until the last 15 seconds of the one minute of injury time. Ayoze found Vardy behind the visitors’ defense. The former England man rounded Ederson and tapped the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately, the flag was up and, even more unfortunately, it was the right call as Vardy was well offside.
That was it for the half, which was not great, but Rodgers would definitely be the happier of the two managers to see the scoreline level at the break.
HT: Leicester (0.00) 0-0 (0.51) Man City
— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) April 3, 2021
Although “happy” would probably be overstating it…
There were no changes to side to start the second period, but James Maddison was stationed next to Rodgers on the sideline, perhaps hinting at what the first change would be. Leicester managed to get their first shot on goal in the early going, with Tielemans’ low effort easily collected by Ederson. At the other end, a De Bruyne free kick flashed across the face of the goal but just eluded a finishing touch from a handful of players in paisley.
It really did feel like a big deal at the time.
Things were opening up quickly, with Vardy nicking the ball off Fernandinho in midfield. Iheanacho was all alone against three defenders, but did well to keep the ball until Tielemans could join him. The Nigeria striker fed the midfielder on the right, but his shot was well blocked by a retreating Ruben Dias.
Everything broke down for the Foxes just before the hour mark. A Mahrez drive was well saved by Schmeichel. The ball came back in towards Gabriel Jesus, but was pinged back out as far as Benjamin Mendy. The left-footed fullback sold Albrighton a dummy and switched on to his right foot before bending it inside the far corner and giving Schmeichel absolutely no chance of making the save.
It was Pep Guardiola who made the first move, withdrawing Aguero for Raheem Sterling, which is one of those frying pan/fire situations for opponents. The Foxes were looking more adventurous without actually creating much in the way of chances. Rodgers waited ten minutes before making his first moves, introducing Ricardo Pereira and Madders for Albrighton and Iheanacho.
The hopes of a comeback turned to dust almost immediately. A Manchester City counter was launched by an inch-perfect pass from De Bruyne to Jesus. This left the striker and Sterling two-on-none behind the Leicester defense. Jesus found his teammate on the left, who dawdled, cut back inside and, just when the chance appeared to have been squandered, poked the ball back to Jesus who tapped it home to double the lead.
It should have been three moments later. Jesus caught Evans in possession and found De Bruyne, who found Mahrez’ run behind the defense. The Algeria man had only Schmeichel to beat, but he curled his effort outside the post when it would have been simpler to score.
As the game entered the final stages, Nampalys Mendy came on for Ndidi, a move which was more about preventing a second a yellow for Wilf than anything else. Leicester had their best moment of the match shortly afterwards. Ayoze showed great skill to find Vardy near the area. The former Fleetwood Town man touched it to Castagne, who hit it first time to Ricardo on the other side of the box. He tapped it to Madders on the penalty spot, who swung his leg and hit it tamely directly to Ederson when you’d have expected him to score.
Things got scrappy as the clock wound down. Amartey swung his arms in frustration at De Bruyne, something I’ve never seen him do. He got away with just a yellow after VAR had a look, but he would have had no complaint had it been red. It was indicative of the frustration the Foxes were feeling. Injury time wound down without serious incident and Leicester could have no complaints about the final scoreline.
That was disappointing. Losing 2-0 to the all-but-confirmed champions is no disaster, but it was a toothless performance that resulted in Ederson being a spectator for the majority of the match. Two shots on target, neither of which would have beaten a Sunday league keeper, were all Leicester could muster, and that’s not enough to deserve even a draw.
The defeat leaves Leicester on 56 points from 30 matches. That leaves us third on the table, a point behind Manchester United who play later this weekend. Next up is fourth-placed West Ham in London a week from Sunday. After that, it’s off to Wembley to face Southampton in the FA Cup semifinal on the 18th.