Leicester City

Late Drama As Watford & City Share The Spoils At Vicarage Road

Leicester City returned to Premier League action after three months away in a dramatic 1-1 draw with Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday - a match illuminated by two excellent late strikes.
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Football was back, but not quite as we’ve ever known it. It had been 103 days since City’s last competitive outing – a 4-0 rout of Aston Villa at King Power Stadium – leaving Brendan Rodgers' Foxes side third in the top-flight standings ahead of the final run-in.

The Club's first behind-closed-doors fixture since 1985 started with new matchday rituals – in living rooms and gardens around the world – and ended with high drama in Hertfordshire as Ben Chilwell's sublime opener, in the 90th minute, was levelled by Craig Dawson's equally impressive bicycle-kick three minutes later.

Following a minute’s silence to pay tribute to key workers and those who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, players from both sides took a knee upon referee Craig Pawson’s whistle, supporting a global movement to eradicate racism from all walks of life.

Once the action got underway, a Foxes line-up including three changes from that Villa triumph back in March secured the Club's 54th point of an exciting 2019/20 top-flight campaign to date. In came Chilwell, Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy, while James Justin switched to right-back in the absence of Ricardo Pereira, who is currently recovering from an ACL injury.

Chilwell played a prominent role in the creation of Leicester’s first opportunity, galloping down the left flank and crossing it low for Vardy in the middle. Dawson, though, was able touch it behind for a corner, before Tielemans dragged a long-range drive narrowly wide.

Another chance came City’s way on 15 minutes when James Maddison’s forward pass was miscontrolled by Christian Kabasele, allowing Vardy to run in on goal and curl it past the post.

After the first of two water breaks – midway through each half – Wilfred Ndidi launched another sighter from outside the penalty area wide of Ben Foster’s net. A mistake from the Nigerian, however, led to Abdoulaye Doucouré being free inside the Foxes’ box, but Kasper Schmeichel – an ever-present for Rodgers’ men in the league – saved assuredly. 

Following the interval, the Hornets threatened first with Étienne Capoue threading the eye of the needle to locate Ismaïla Sarr behind City’s backline and the Senegalese forward – the home side’s joint top goalscorer - forced Schmeichel into an excellent point-blank save.

The man Sarr shares that title with, Troy Deeney, then nodded Kiko Femenía’s deep cross just wide of the far post, with Nigel Pearson’s side starting the second period brightly.

On the hour-mark, meanwhile, Maddison whipped an inch-perfect free-kick into Watford’s goalmouth, inviting Çağlar Söyüncü to nod it goalwards. The Turkey centre-back, though, headed it just wide.

With 15 minutes to go, Leicester really cranked into gear. First, second-half substitute Demarai Gray laid it up for Marc Albrighton to unleash a fearsome drive which rattled the post before Maddison – again set up by Gray – saw his low curler tipped around the post by Foster.

As the clock struck 90 minutes, Gray's cross-field ball fell perfectly for Chilwell - and the England full-back arched his back and rocketed a magnificent strike into Foster's top corner to seemingly grab a late winner. Dawson, though, had other ideas and a 93rd-minute goalmouth scramble ended with the 30-year-old spinning on the spot and beating the outstretched Schmeichel - who so nearly kept it out. 

Major moment

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Ben Chilwell

Chilwell wheels away in delight after netting his third goal of the season for the Club.

A moment of real quality from Ben Chilwell - an Academy graduate who's progressed through the ranks to become a vital member of Brendan Rodgers' squad - put the City into a late lead. However, with seconds to spare, the Hornets hit back through a brilliant bicycle-kick from Craig Dawson, denying City a 17th league victory of the season on their return to action.

Who impressed?

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Ben Chilwell

As well as scoring late on for Leicester, Chilwell was a useful outlet on the flanks for the visitors.

Speaking at full-time on LCFC TV's new-look matchday show, City On The Sofa, Matt Elliott said: "Ben Chilwell pulled it out of the hat there with that goal at the end! It was a really good move leading up to it as well. Disappointing not to get all three points, but it's a good point, on reflection. That goal from Ben would have been a worthy winner, though!"

Where do we stand?

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Brendan Rodgers

City manager Rodgers delivers instructions to his players during one of two water breaks.

Leicester remain third in the Premier League table, six points behind second-placed Manchester City, and six clear of Chelsea, who travel to Aston Villa on Sunday. Manchester United, meanwhile, are now eight points adrift of the Foxes after drawing 1-1 at Tottenham Hotspur on Friday evening.

Coming up…

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Kasper Schmeichel

No.1 goalkeeper Schmeichel organises his defensive colleagues at Vicarage Road.

City welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to King Power Stadium on Tuesday in the Premier League (6pm kick-off) before Filbert Way also stages an Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final tie against eight-time winners Chelsea on Sunday (4pm kick-off) – both behind closed doors.

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