James Justin

City Back On Track With Fulham Triumph

A brace of first-half goals saw Leicester City claim a deserved 2-0 Premier League win over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.
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With Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne missing out due to injury, Çağlar Söyüncü made his first Premier League start in nearly four months, while Ricardo Pereira came in at right-back and Hamza Choudhury and Kelechi Iheanacho also returned to the starting XI as manager Brendan Rodgers made four changes to his side.

While there were also spots on the bench for Development Squad youngsters Vontae Daley-Campbell and Khanya Leshabela, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel moved up into second in Leicester City’s all-time Premier League appearances charts, surpassing Club legend Muzzy Izzet's record of 222.

A minute's applause in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore took place ahead of kick-off at Craven Cottage, where City were aiming to kick-start another unbeaten run following their reverse to Leeds United last time out.

With five minutes on the clock, a well-timed sliding challenge from Youri Tielemans prevented André-Frank Zambo Anguissa's strike from reaching Schmeichel in the City net, before Iheanacho, leading the line, had a shot blocked inside the Fulham area.

A one-two between Iheanacho and James Maddison saw the latter fire into the arms of France stopper Alphonse Areola shortly after, while the end-to-end action continued as a brilliant last-ditch block from James Justin took the sting out of Aleksandar Mitrović's effort from six yards out, allowing Schmeichel to collect. 

Some neat play from the visitors then led to Harvey Barnes lifting his attempt from a Ricardo pull-back off target inside 15 minutes, with the Portugal star showcasing his attacking prowess early on in the capital. 

Then came the opener, as Nigerian frontman Iheanacho nodded home a sublime cross from Maddison for his first Premier League goal of the season, with Choudhury pouncing to win the ball back in midfield for Leicester earlier in the move.

An opportunity for Leicester to double their lead came eight minutes after Iheanacho's header, with Söyüncü, at the back post, volleying straight at Areola, who made a point-blank save to deny the defender.

Looking for a response, Mitrović turned 20 yards from goal, but lifted a harmless attempt over Schmeichel's bar just before the half-hour mark, before Söyüncü had the ball in the net on 39 minutes, but the goal was chalked off following a foul in the build-up. 

Denmark stopper Schmeichel, as he has done numerous times this campaign, pulled off a fine save towards the end of the first period after tipping over Tosin Adarabioyo's header from an Ademola Lookman corner.

That proved to be huge for City, who crafted a second of the evening on the stroke of half-time. Iheanacho collected Justin's pass and played in Maddison. The attacking midfielder twisted and turned before holding up play and picking out Justin, who after starting the move, rounded Areola and side-footed in to complete a 26-pass move.

There was still time for Areola to make a good stop with his legs to prevent Barnes from rounding off a rapid counter-attack in first-half stoppage time, but Iheanacho and Justin's earlier efforts meant City carried a commanding advantage into the break.

Ivan Cavaleiro came off the bench for Fulham in the second half, and almost found the bottom corner when he dragged a left-footed effort wide of Schmeichel's post, while Iheanacho found the net on 51 minutes, but the goal did not stand after the striker was flagged offside. 

A fierce shot from Lookman followed, but as it moved in the air, it dipped just over the crossbar, before the introductions of Papy Mendy and Marc Albrighton followed, with Choudhury and Pérez making way.

Leicester thought they had a third of the evening when Ricardo slammed past Areola at the near post, but Albrighton was flagged offside before he went on to tee up the City right-back. 

A spell of possession for Fulham followed, but they were unable to stage a comeback, as City showed their excellent game management skills away from home.

Only Decordova-Reid's deflected effort, which hit the side-netting after a timely block from Justin, threatened Schmeichel's goal late on, and it was Rodgers' side who emerged victorious from the west London encounter. 

Major moment

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Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel

Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a brilliant stop just before James Justin doubled the Leicester lead.

Without Kasper Schmeichel's brilliant save to deny Tosin Adarabioyo two minutes before the break, City would have headed into the interval on level terms with Fulham. 

But the No.1's stop, which came at 1-0 following Kelechi Iheanacho's 17th-minute effort, prevented the Cottagers from getting back into the game.

And just seconds later, the Foxes doubled their advantage through James Justin, further emphasising the importance of Schmeichel's earlier heroics.

Who impressed?

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Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho heads past Alphonse Areola on 17 minutes at Craven Cottage.

Speaking on LCFC Radio’s Matchday Live, Tony Cottee said: "There are players that I need to mention. Youri Tielemans was excellent again and defensively as a unit they performed really well, especially James Justin in that left-back position. I have to mention James Maddison in terms of his assists. For me, with absolutely no bias whatsoever, it’s Kelechi Iheanacho. He scored that first goal and he had a fantastic turn for the second. That’s the Kelechi Iheanacho I want to see. He provided Leicester with a focal point tonight."

Where do we stand?

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James Justin
James Justin

The England Under-21s international leaps for joy after netting for the Foxes.

The Foxes move up to third in the Premier League standings after 22 2020/21 fixtures, with 42 points and a goal difference of plus 14.

Coming up…

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James Maddison
James Maddison

James Maddison registered a brace of assists in the 2-0 win at Fulham.

A second Premier League away fixture on the spin sees City head to Molineux Stadium to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday (2pm kick-off), before the Foxes host Brighton & Hove Albion at King Power Stadium in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Wednesday (7:30pm kick-off).

All times GMT.

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