Kelechi Iheanacho & Luke Thomas

Iheanacho, Daka & Wright Seal Derby Win

Leicester City recorded back-to-back pre-season victories after beating Derby County 3-1 on Saturday at Pride Park.

After a first-half stalemate, Kelechi Iheanacho slammed a well-taken strike into the net for his maiden goal of pre-season before Derby's Tom Barkhuizen levelled matters 10 minutes later. But Patson Daka struck for the third time this pre-season and Callum Wright got himself on the scoresheet to win it for City.

With two fixtures falling on the same day, and a City side taking on Preston North End at Deepdale under the guidance of manager Brendan Rodgers two hours after the clash with Derby, assistant manager Chris Davies took the team at Pride Park.

The starting XI in Derbyshire was captained by Youri Tielemans, while fellow midfielder Wilfred Ndidi was back available after missing the fixtures away to Notts CountyOH Leuven and Hull City with an ankle sprain. 

Prior to kick-off, there was a period of applause in memory of former Derby County inside forward Jack Parry, who sadly passed away this week. Both sides also wore black armbands in tribute to Derby's fifth all-time appearance maker.

Starting in a 5-3-2 stratagem, and backed by a healthy Blue Army contingent in the East Midlands, the Foxes were tasked with defending against a direct Barkhuizen run in the opening 10 minutes. Turkey's Çağlar Söyüncü got in the way, before the Derby No.7 followed up with an effort that deflected behind.

City were growing into the game, and only a well-timed challenge from Curtis Davies on the quarter-hour mark prevented Iheanacho from latching onto Daka's touch after good work from Tielemans in the build-up.

More positive play from the Foxes soon followed, with Dennis Praet sweeping a pass out to England Under-21s international Luke Thomas on the left wing. The full-back cut inside onto his right boot and curled into the arms of Joe Wildsmith.

A sublime pass from Tielemans created the next chance for City, with the Belgian international locating a well-timed run from countryman Praet. The No.26 sent the ball across the face of goal, Daka missed it and then Thomas cut it back to Iheanacho, whose effort was cleared off the line. 

Leicester were finding their rhythm, and after Iheanacho rolled a pass into the path of Daka, the Zambia striker sprinted towards goal, but placed his attempt into the side-netting. Then, Thomas delivered into the No.29, who fired wide at the near post. Chances aplenty for the visitors. 

Having created much in the opening stages, Tielemans switched his tact and went for goal on 27 minutes, however Davies dipped his head and got in the way of the powerful 20-yard drive. Not long after, a good save from Wildsmith with his legs prevented Daka from slotting in Timothy Castagne's delivery, although the offside flag was eventually raised. 

Derby's threat now switched to the counter-attack, with Barkhuizen leading the charge. A show of pace down the left flank nearly set up an opportunity, however Ghana centre-back Daniel Amartey read the run perfectly, with his tackle winning a goal-kick for the men in blue.

Before the first half came to a close, Davies headed away a clipped pass from Praet, Wildsmith held onto a Thomas delivery and Iheanacho lifted a free-kick over the crossbar. City looked encouraging, but were unable to break down the Rams in the opening 45 minutes.

Ten minutes into the second half, the deadlock was broken by the visitors. Tielemans picked out Castagne on the right flank, and the full-back squared to Iheanacho, who took a touch to set himself before smashing into the bottom corner for 1-0.

With just over an hour under his belt, Ndidi made way and on came Senegal AFCON winner Papy Mendy in a like-for-like substitution. Shortly after, though, Barkhuizen side-footed past Jakub Stolarczyk to restore parity at Pride Park.

A trio of Belgians combined on 70 minutes, with Castagne eventually picking out Praet, whose first-time attempt was blocked by the body of James Chester. A snapshot strike from Daka then flew off target as City went in search of a winner.

Daka continued to be a danger to Derby's goal, with the Zambian squeezing a shot on goal that Wildsmith was equal to. At the other end, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing sliced wide of the mark from inside the City box. On came Hamza Choudhury in place of Praet shortly after.

There was no doubting Leicester were in the ascendancy, and it was that man Daka, now with three goals in his last three pre-season outings, who would find the target with a cool finish - 11 minutes remained at Pride Park.

In the closing stages, goalscorer Iheanacho was replaced by young midfielder Wright, who soon made it 3-1 after pouncing on Wildsmith's save from Tielemans, having only been on the pitch for four minutes.

An ambitious effort from Daka on 90 minutes nearly saw him lob Wildsmith from significant range, before Stolarczyk had to make amends by pulling off an excellent save in stoppage time.

Major moment – Daka scores again

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Patson Daka

Patson Daka pulls out his signature celebration for the third time this pre-season.

Although the Foxes were good value for their 1-0 advantage after Kelechi Iheanacho fired beyond Joe Wildsmith on 55 minutes, Tom Barkhuizen's leveller meant the fixture was heading for a draw. However, a well-timed run from Patson Daka led to the Zambia frontman netting his third goal of pre-season before Callum Wright added another.

Coming up – Sevilla (H)

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Patson Daka, Callum Wright & Youri Tielemans

Callum Wright added gloss to the scoreline after netting late on at Pride Park

The Foxes will conclude their pre-season schedule with a King Power Stadium encounter against Sevilla on Sunday (6pm kick-off). Tickets are currently on general sale for the fixture, available HERE. A week later, City kick-off their 2022/23 Premier League campaign against Brentford on the same soil (2pm kick-off). 

All times BST.

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