James Maddison

Ruthless Foxes Claim Deserved Villa Win

Leicester City made it back-to-back Premier League wins to move into second in the table thanks to a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.
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Having missed City’s previous five outings after picking up a hamstring injury against Leeds United, Belgium full-back Timothy Castagne returned to the starting XI as one of two changes, with Ricardo Pereira, operating in a more advanced position, the other switch in personnel.

It took all of 33 seconds for City to test Emiliano Martínez. After a neat exchange between Youri Tielemans and Ricardo, the latter eventually curled a left-footed effort on goal that the Villa stopper held onto.

Academy graduate Luke Thomas, on four minutes, then saw a drilled effort deflect behind for a corner as City enjoyed a healthy spell of possession in the opening stages in Birmingham. 

The in-form Harvey Barnes, pursued by Bertrand Traoré, sprinted away from his marker and into the area, however his effort clipped a Villa defender and the ball flew wide, but it was an encouraging start from the visiting side nonetheless.

A sudden downpour from the deep grey Aston skies followed shortly after and, on 17 minutes, Thomas was forced into making a vital block to deny Traoré, who connected with Anwar El Ghazi's cross, only to find the City defender in his way.

City's perseverance soon told, though, and, on 19 minutes, they were ahead. Tielemans floated the ball up to Jamie Vardy, and it dropped to Barnes. The No.15 quickly teed up James Maddison, who took a touch before firing a lovely, low strike in off the post for 1-0.

Leicester could not resist further advances in a bid to double their advantage and it was very nearly 2-0 not long after, but Martínez was able to pluck Ricardo's effort - destined for the top corner - out of the air.

But City were in an unforgiving mood and when Martínez could only parry Vardy's initial strike, Barnes, emerging from an onside position, was on hand to turn home the loose ball for his 13th goal of the season in all competitions, as he rifled in at the Holte End.

Leicester appeared to be under slight pressure on 27 minutes, but a pass from a deep right-back position by Castagne into Belgium team-mate Tielemans completely bypassed the Villa press and eventually led to another goalscoring opportunity, only for Barnes' shot to loop up off a defender, making it easy for Martínez.

Important blocks from Wilfred Ndidi and Castagne followed, preventing Villa from delivering into the Leicester area, while John McGinn's wayward strike on 35 minutes failed to trouble skipper Kasper Schmeichel in the City net.

With Leicester two goals to the good at the interval, Villa came out fighting after the break and halved the deficit on 48 minutes when Traoré swept home from six yards out while under pressure from Schmeichel.

With 54 minutes gone, Tielemans drilled into the arms of Martínez. Play was then stopped to allow Maddison to receive some treatment after taking a knock on the edge of the Villa box, but he was able to continue, and, on the hour-mark, he saw a 25-yard free-kick tipped wide. 

However, Maddison was clearly struggling and was forced off shortly after, with manager Brendan Rodgers introducing Papy Mendy in the No.10's place with 26 minutes plus stoppage time remaining at Villa Park.

Before the change, Vardy sent a left-footed shot off target after being slipped in by Barnes, who then had a strike from the edge of the area blocked with 19 minutes to go.

Just 60 seconds later, Vardy was in again, but good defending from Tyrone Mings saw the Villa captain usher the ball out of play, halting the striker's run on the byline.

At the other end, Castagne prodded the ball behind for a corner to stop substitute Trézéguet in his tracks, before Daniel Amartey came on in place of Ricardo, pushing Castagne a little further up the field as the Ghana defender slotted in at right-back.

With 10 minutes to play, Schmeichel gathered a Trézéguet effort that lacked any real power, and then the Dane spread himself well at the near post to save from the Egypt international, although the offside flag was later raised and it wouldn't have counted.

Mings stood in the way of a Vardy effort just moments later, with City looking to hit the hosts on the counter-attack where possible, while Hamza Choudhury, on 88 minutes, replaced Tielemans to shore up the Leicester midfield. 

Appeals for a Villa penalty followed as Schmeichel smothered the ball to prevent Ollie Watkins from netting an equaliser while under pressure from Amartey, before Mings nodded wide from an Ahmed El Mohamady cross in the fifth minute of injury time. 

Major moment

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Harvey Barnes pounced on a loose ball to make it 2-0 in the first half.

Buoyed by James Maddison's neat finish on 19 minutes, the Foxes added a second goal to the scoreline just four minutes later as Harvey Barnes reacted quickest to Emiliano Martínez's initial parry.

The two-goal cushion was split in half when Bertrand Traoré found the net at the beginning of the second period, however Leicester showed strength and determination to leave Villa Park with all three Premier League points. 

Who impressed?

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Luke Thomas
Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas faced up well against lively attacker Bertrand Traoré.

Speaking on LCFC Radio’s Matchday Live, Gerry Taggart said: “I’m going to give it to Luke Thomas. Defensively, especially in that second half, he was awesome. He made two or three unbelievable challenges, one in the first half too, up against a difficult customer in Bertrand Traoré. In that second half, both him and Timothy Castagne made some really important interceptions. On that evidence alone, I’m giving it to Luke Thomas."

Where do we stand?

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Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel

The Denmark international skippered the Foxes to a 2-1 triumph in Birmingham.

City leapfrog Manchester United, who later in the day face Newcastle United at Old Trafford, to move second in the Premier League table with 49 points from 25 outings. 

Coming up…

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Academy graduate Harvey Barnes toasts his 13th goal of the season in all competitions.

City will face Slavia Prague on home soil for a spot in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening (8pm kick-off), before welcoming Arsenal to Filbert Way in the Premier League on Sunday (12pm kick-off).

All times GMT.

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