Leicester City

Shootout Heartbreak For The Foxes In Liverpool

A 5-4 penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Liverpool, following a climactic 3-3 draw in normal time, denied Leicester City a place in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup at Anfield on Wednesday evening.
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Manager Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the XI which emphatically defeated Newcastle United 10 days earlier, with Ricardo Pereira, Boubakary Soumaré and Jamie Vardy coming in. Captain Kasper Schmeichel, meanwhile, was making his 450th appearance for the Club.

Backed by over 5,200 members of the Blue Army, the Foxes shaped up in a diamond formation from the outset on Merseyside, with Youri Tielemans on the right and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall on the left. The latter's quick thinking set up Patson Daka for City's first opportunity of the tie on five minutes.

After intercepting Joe Gomez's hopeful forward ball, the Academy graduate slipped a pass through to Daka, who raced forward and forced Caoimhin Kelleher to parry the ball behind his net in front of the Kop. James Maddison's corner was then nodded wide of the near post by Wilfred Ndidi.

The opening goal they had threatened, against a youthful Reds outfit, came just nine minutes into the contest. Inventive midfield play from Soumaré enabled the Frenchman to pick out Maddison. A quick turn and pass from Leicester's No.10 then invited Vardy to arrow it into the far corner inside the area. 

It was a bright start for the travelling Foxes and it got even better four minutes later. Dewsbury-Hall was involved again, carving a pass around the Liverpool backline into Daka, who carefully cushioned it into the path of Vardy, lurking on the six-yard line. There was no mistake from the 34-year-old.  

Jürgen Klopp's hosts, though, weren't prepared to let Leicester have it all their own way on their home turf. The next twist saw the 19-time champions of England halve the deficit before the first half's midway point. Roberto Firmino held the ball up before giving it to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to smash home. 

City's response was to play forwards. On the 25th-minute mark, Vardy cut through the Reds defence, finding Maddison, whose drive was smothered by Kelleher. It was almost 3-1 when Daka snatched the ball from Billy Koumetio and fed Vardy. Leicester's third all-time top goalscorer then used Daka as a decoy.

After charging into the box, Kelleher's outreached arm stopped Vardy from bulging the net. They'd restore their two-goal lead shortly afterwards in sensational fashion. When the ball bobbled up off the ground, around 25 yards out, Maddison belted it at goal – on the half-volley – and into the top corner. 

Gomez so nearly handed the Foxes a fourth, too, when his loose touch fell kindly for Vardy. On a hat-trick, the former Fleetwood Town striker took one look and tried to pick out the far bottom corner again, but it struck the base of the Liverpool post and came out. 

After Ricardo was forced to withdraw three minutes before the break, with Marc Albrighton taking his place, Liverpool attempted to keep the ball, harried by men in blue. Conor Bradley then tested Schmeichel, now Leicester's outright fourth-highest all-time appearance maker, but it remained 3-1 at half-time.

Klopp elected for drastic measures at the interval, introducing Diogo Jota, James Milner and Ibrahima Konaté from the bench in a triple change. Tyler Morton, Koumetio and Bradley made way. It was an intervention which increased the average age of the hosts' on-field XI in the second period. 

It was Leicester, though, who threatened first as Daka's through ball played Dewsbury-Hall in. He still needed to beat Milner, by skipping inside the Liverpool No.7, before trying to send a low curler into the bottom corner. Kelleher, however, was able to dive to his left and divert it around the post.

Ndidi, playing in an unfamiliar centre-back position, was required to nod Milner's corner over moments later, before Kelechi Iheanacho came on in Daka's place. When Takumi Minamino's pass landed for Firmino, only a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from Çağlar Söyüncü halted the Brazilian's shot.

While Naby Keïta was brought on by the home side, Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand also took the places of Dewsbury-Hall and Söyüncü, the latter appearing to pull up. It was 3-2 on 67 minutes, on the other hand, as Minamino teed up second-half substitute Jota to rifle past Schmeichel. 

The home supporters were on their feet as Klopp's men pushed forwards, searching for a leveller. Albrighton was able to get his head on Milner's corner, but it landed awkwardly in the area. Nevertheless, Vestergaard was able to get in the way – by hook or by crook – of three Konstantinos Tsimikas attempts. 

It was hotting up between the two sides too. First, Konaté cut Albrighton down and, despite Leicester's No.11 lying down hurt, the Reds raced upfield. Then a collision between Jota and Luke Thomas was also waved away by referee Andy Madley. Neco Williams then ruffled the side netting for Liverpool.

Heroic back-tracking from Ndidi also denied Firmino just as the Reds striker was ready to pull the trigger. A sensational stop from Schmeichel – as Keïta's drilled strike cannoned off Jota's head, changing its course – was needed to keep Klopp's men at bay. The pressure was building with under 10 to go.

City were in 5-3-2 and holding on. Williams' cross was next on Vestergaard's agenda, with the Dane knocking it behind, while Vardy and Albrighton combined to avert the danger later on in the corner. Albrighton then stepped in to prevent substitute Owen Beck from troubling Schmeichel.

On 90 minutes, the fourth official signalled there would be six minutes of added time. Maddison saw a strike skid over the turf and into Kelleher's gloves and Oxlade-Chamberlain curled over. In the fifth of those six minutes, Minamino pounced, chesting it down and half-volleying into the net. 3-3 at the death.

The tie would be settled by a penalty shootout. Tielemans, Maddison and Albrighton found the net, a feat matched by Milner, Firmino and Oxlade-Chamberlain for the home side. Thomas, though, was denied by Kelleher and Keïta gave Liverpool the advantage. 

When Iheanacho was successful for the Foxes from 12 yards, Minamino blazed over, taking it to sudden death. Bertrand's spot-kick, however, was saved again by Kelleher, before Jota sent the Reds into the last four of the competition. 

Major moment

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Takumi Minamino
Takumi Minamino

The Reds make it 3-3 in added time through Takumi Minamino's strike.

City, 3-1 up at the break, had to withstand considerable pressure in the second half, with Jürgen Klopp turning to experienced figures on his bench. Liverpool hounded Leicester's goal in the latter stages, but just when it seemed they had done enough, Takumi Minamino struck to send the tie to penalties. 

Who impressed?

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James Maddison
James Maddison

Leicester's No.10 scored an excellent half-volley in the first half for the visitors.

Former Foxes defender Gerry Taggart, speaking on commentary for LCFC Radio, said: "Jamie Vardy obviously scored two goals so deserves a mention, but for me, especially in that first half, James Maddison showed plenty of moments of magic and scored a brilliant goal."

Where do we stand?

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Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

Manager Brendan Rodgers thanks the 5,200 supporters who travelled to Merseyside.

Leicester exit the Carabao Cup at the quarter-finals stage. 

Coming up...

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

Academy graduate Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall wrestles for possession at Anfield.

The festive football continues on Boxing Day with a visit to Etihad Stadium to tackle Premier League champions Manchester City (3pm kick-off). It's another clash with Liverpool, at King Power Stadium, on 28 December (8pm kick-off), before Norwich City head to Leicester on New Year's Day (3pm kick-off).

All times GMT.

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