Leicester City

Six-Goal Draw As King Power Clubs Face Off In Leuven

Leicester City twice came from behind to draw 3-3 with King Power International sister club OH Leuven at King Power at Den Dreef Stadion on Saturday afternoon.

Across two hours of football split up into three periods, City fielded 26 players, of which 22 played an hour, with strikes from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy sealing a draw in Belgium.

After a week of intense training in Évian-les-Bains, the Foxes made the hour-long flight to the beautiful city of Leuven to tackle OH Leuven, who laid on a family fun day for both sets of supporters in the build-up to a match that celebrated five years of King Power International's ownership of the host outfit.

As expected, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (ankle) was not involved, however Hamza Choudhury had successfully shaken off a knock to take a spot on the bench. With Chairman of both clubs, Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, watching on, the first-half XI saw manager Brendan Rodgers hand the captain's armband to centre-back Jonny Evans, who, like many other Foxes, made his first appearance of the summer schedule.

OH Leuven, who were contesting their final pre-season fixture before their Jupiler Pro League campaign gets underway, were straight out of the blocks as Mousa Al-Tamari curled home past Daniel Iversen inside the first minute. A shoulder-to-shoulder challenge from Wesley Fofana and then a lovely right-handed save then denied the Leuven No.11 on two separate occasions. 

Not content with their early goal, Leuven were continuing to apply the pressure. This time, Boubakary Soumaré stopped Mathieu Maertens' low drive. Leicester grew into the game, allowing Ayoze Pérez to venture forward and force a good save out of Valentin Cojocaru, who did well to claw the ball out of the bottom corner. 

Soon, though, the hosts capitalised on another goalscoring opportunity. Former Denmark youth international Iversen was beaten to the ball by Nachon Nsingi, the forward then nodded it into his own path and tapped in for 2-0 on 12 minutes. 

The men in all blue - playing in the 2022/23 home kit in front of the travelling Blue Army for the first time - looked for a response, with Ricardo Pereira crossing into Dewsbury-Hall, however the Academy graduate was unable to direct his header on target and was later deemed to be offside. Cojocaru then held onto Daka's low delivery, while Nsingi nodded a Maertens cross off target. 

James Maddison looked lively in the Belgium sun, twice seeing efforts deflect away either side of a good piece of defending from Evans to stop Nsingi's run towards goal. Fellow midfielder Dewsbury-Hall, from a slightly deeper position, then fired low at Cojocaru, who held onto the attempt. 

After, Maertens had a goal chalked off for offside Raphael Holzhauser bent a left-footed free-kick wide. Excellent footwork from Harvey Barnes on 33 minutes, meanwhile, called Cojocaru into action, as the No.7 drifted past his marker before smashing a strike towards the near post. 

Barnes turned provider not long after, teeing up James Justin, who curled towards goal, but Cojocaru was once again in the way and Daka couldn't quite get to the follow up. Then, the winger stood the ball up to Pérez at the far post, and the Spaniard connected well with a header, however he couldn't beat Cojocaru.

City were desperately unfortunate not to halve the deficit in added time, with Barnes beating his man and curling towards the bottom corner, but Cojocaru made the save, and then Daka pounced on the loose ball only for his strike to be blocked on the line. The first 45 minutes came to a close. 

Into the second period, Leicester reduced their deficit to a single goal thanks to a brilliantly-executed goal from Dewsbury-Hall. The No.22 picked the ball up, drove forward and curled into the bottom corner with his left boot. 

Evans got in the way of Al-Tamari's attempt from inside the City box 10 minutes after the break, while Ewoud Pletinckx stood strong to prevent Maddison's shot from testing Cojocaru.

First Team

Highlights – OH Leuven 3 Leicester City 3

Extended highlights from an entertaining six-goal friendly involving OH Leuven and Leicester City on Saturday.

Maddison's quick thinking helped City get on level terms. After Soumaré won a free-kick, the No.10 took it immediately and a superb pass located the head of Daka, who nodded in for 2-2. Moments later, on the hour mark, a new XI took to the pitch, skippered by Vardy, allowing 22 players to gather 60 minutes of match action each.

With nine minutes of the second 45 to go, Nigeria frontman Kelechi Iheanacho gathered the ball and turned just inside the area before slamming inches wide in front of a healthy contingent of City supporters. Substitute goalkeeper Nordin Jackers denied Iheanacho in the next attack, as the visiting outfit continued their quest for a third of the afternoon. 

Closing in on the 90-minute mark, and still with 30 minutes of additional time to play, Maertens smashed a half-volley harmlessly over Jakub Stolarczyk's crossbar. Youri Tielemans nearly set up Iheanacho in the opposite half, however a well-timed tackle prevented him from pulling the trigger. 

After the match entered the final half-an-hour, Leuven were back in front after Daniel Amartey was dispossessed and Mykola Kukharevych slotted in on 92 minutes. In the hunt for more, substitute Richie Sagrado lifted well off target two minutes later. 

Dennis Praet, himself born in Leuven, struck towards the net 10 minutes into the final 30, however Marc Brys' side did well to defend and retained their one-goal advantage. Not long after, the No.26 drilled into the arms of Jacker. 

Leicester's pressure told in the 101st minute. Following some good closing down from Tielemans, Vardy was alert to a defensive error and tucked home his first goal of pre-season to make it three goals apiece at King Power at Den Dreef Stadion.

A golden opportunity for Iheanacho to put Leicester in front for the first time in the game followed, the striker glancing Belgium international Timothy Castagne's well-weighted pass over the crossbar.

With just over 10 minutes left on the clock, on came Hamza Choudhury, Marc Albrighton, Sammy Braybrooke and Callum Wright, allowing a further four players to experience friendly action at the end of a busy week for the Club's stars.

On the volley, Vardy flicked the ball towards goal, only for Jacker to cling onto the attempt on 112 minutes, while with three minutes remaining, Milan Taildeman struck from distance but found the body of Turkey centre-back Çağlar Söyüncü in his way. That brought to an end the 120-minute encounter in Belgium.

Major moment – Vardy pounces late on

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Jamie Vardy

In his first pre-season appearance, Jamie Vardy scored the decisive leveller in Leuven.

The Foxes did well to first recover from a two-goal deficit before they again drew level when Jamie Vardy, off the bench, converted a loose ball in the OH Leuven area.

That's the way it finished at King Power at Den Dreef Stadion, despite Vardy having a late chance to pinch the victory for his side. 

Coming up – Hull City (A)

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Patson Daka

Patson Daka headed in James Maddison's quick free-kick to make it 2-2.

Leicester's third pre-season fixture comes on Wednesday when they travel to the MKM Stadium to take on Hull City in a 7:45pm BST kick-off. The fixture will be streamed live on LCFC.com and YouTube.

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