George Hirst

City's Youngsters Seal Villarreal Success In Whetstone

Leicester City’s Development Squad got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Villarreal B in the Premier League International Cup at Holmes Park on Wednesday.
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Following last week’s 3-1 reverse at Blackburn Rovers, the Foxes’ first defeat in 12 matches in all competitions, George Hirst and Josh Eppiah found the net en route to a ninth win in 10. 

City’s line-up in rainy Whetstone included six changes as Eldin Jakupović, Daniel Amartey, Papy Mendy, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Khanya Leshabela, and Eppiah came in. 

The conditions proved to be an inhibitor of quality in the early stages and it took until the 12th minute for the first real opportunity, which fell for the Spanish visitors.

It came as Francisco Álvarez’s corner looked destined to creep inside the near post; however, Daley-Campbell, who signed from Arsenal in the summer, was able to nod it away.

However, on 23 minutes, the pace of Eppiah made all the difference as the Belgian youngster ran at goal and fired a low drive, forcing visiting goalkeeper Josele into a decent low save.

England youth international George Hirst, though, was positioned perfectly to apply a close-range finish into an empty net and give City an early lead.

It got even better for the home side within two minutes, as possession was won in the middle before Leshabela laid it off to Eppiah to beat Josele once again.

Their advantage was halved, though, with five minutes of the first half to go with Alejandro Millán Iranzo breaking free of the entire back-three to slot beyond Jakupović.

After the interval, Villarreal were unfortunate not to level the scores on 58 minutes when Vadik Murria Soriano slipped in Álvarez, who sent it low and wide into the side-netting.

With around 20 minutes remaining, meanwhile, the margins got even tighter as Yéremi Santos’ long-range drive was deflected onto Jakupović’s crossbar.

Jakupović was required to make two excellent stops in the latter moments to keep the home side in it before Leicester were awarded a late penalty.

Captain Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall stepped up to take it after being felled under challenges from both Sofian Chakla and Vadik Murria, but Josele parried his left-footed effort.

Jakupović was needed again at the very end when José Castaño Muñoz got a header off at goal from five yards out, but the experienced stopper was able to smother it.

Major moment

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George Hirst
George Hirst

Striker George Hirst wheels away in celebration midway through the first half.

Scoring a quick-fire second goal midway through the first half proved to be enough for the Foxes to see off their Spanish visitors in Whetstone.

With a restless determination to add to their tally, Leicester hurried Villarreal into an error before pouncing and advancing, with Josh Eppiah completing the move. 

Where does it leave us?

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Leicester City Development Squad
Leicester City Development Squad

The squad exchange words before kick-off in Whetstone.

Despite only playing once, Leicester climb to second in Group A with a maximum of three points, while Arsenal lead the way following wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Villarreal.

The six group winners and the two best runners-up advance to the quarter-finals, the stage where City were knocked out last season on penalties by Bayern Munich.

Coming up…

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George Hirst
George Hirst

George Hirst opened the scoring for City's youngsters at Holmes Park.

City’s youngsters are next in Premier League 2 Division 1 action on Friday 3 January, 2020 (7pm kick-off) when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Holmes Park.

That clash will be available to view for free on LCFC TV with commentator Nick Walsh set to be joined by former Foxes manager Micky Adams live on air from 6:45pm in Whetstone. 

The details…

City: Jakupović; Amartey, Benković, Ughelumba; Mendy; Daley-Campbell (Clark 59’), Leshabela, Dewsbury-Hall (c), L. Thomas (Muskwe 45’); Hirst (Wright 68’), Eppiah

Subs not used: Davies, O’Connor, Tee, Reghba

Goals: Hirst 24’, Eppiah 26’

Attendance: 138

All times GMT.

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