James Justin

Leicester Suffer Slender Man City Loss

Leicester City were edged 1-0 by Premier League champions Manchester City in Saturday's early kick-off at King Power Stadium.
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A solitary free-kick converted by Kevin De Bruyne meant Leicester's three-game unbeaten run came to an end against Man City, who moved to the top-flight summit.

After his team swept Wolverhampton Wanderers aside six days ago, manager Brendan Rodgers made one change to his XI as Çağlar Söyüncü, on Turkey's Republic Day, made his first Premier League start of the season. Boubakary Soumaré made way in midfield as City deployed three centre-backs. The Citizens were without Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland, who picked up a knock in midweek.

The fixture against Pep Guardiola's team was dedicated to the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal, commemorating the sacrifices of servicemen and women in conflicts past and present, as well as Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, as the Premier League and its 20 clubs demonstrate their ongoing backing for LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Saturday's lunchtime clash saw the Foxes welcome the champions to Filbert Way, where Rodgers and Guardiola laid wreaths in memory of those who have lost their lives in service to their country. A giant poppy-themed tifo was on display during a one-minute silence held upon the sounding of The Last Post, then play began.

The morning's rain, which had lashed much of the country in the early hours, cleared. King Power Stadium's pitch was slick, much like the football Leicester played at Molineux Stadium last weekend. Man City, meanwhile, drew 0-0 away to Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Having enjoyed much of the ball in the opening period, Man City were the first to carve out the maiden opportunity. De Bruyne's delivery into the box was met by Rodri, whose header was tipped over by Danny Ward. The stopper had to deny Julián Álvarez not long after, De Bruyne again the creator, and while the offside flag went up against the Argentina forward, replays showed he was onside.

A minute later, Bernardo Silva smashed a half-volley on target. Again, Ward stood his ground, this time using his legs to deny the Portugal midfielder. On 18 minutes, Rodri headed De Bruyne's cross onto the roof of the net. Leicester were weathering a storm as Man City continued to dominate proceedings. 

The Foxes absorbed the opposition advances and launched a counter-attack on 24 minutes. Jamie Vardy fed Harvey Barnes, who cut onto his left foot and forced Ederson into a low stop at his near post. Two minutes later, James Justin threw himself in the way of a long-ranger from De Bruyne, who not long after fired straight at Ward as the pursuit for a first goal of the match went on.

A dazzling run from Barnes, picked out by Justin, saw the No.7 dance into the area, however John Stones covered well and was able to see the ball out of play for a goal-kick. The Academy graduate, on 36 minutes, then struck a wayward effort off target, this time not troubling Ederson.

Leicester were still on defensive duty in the latter stages of the first half. Ghana international central defender Daniel Amartey did well to halt the run of Jack Grealish, whose corner moments later was plucked out of the air by Ward. Man City had the lion's share of possession at half-time, however the men in blue were able to repel them in the first 45.

At the break, Rodgers made one change as Dewsbury-Hall was replaced by Senegal's 2021 Africa Cup of Nations winner Papy Mendy. Inside the second half's opening minute, Rodri's low drive from outside the 18-yard box fizzed inches wide of Ward's right-hand post.

On 49 minutes, though, Guardiola's side got themselves in front in stylish fashion. Grealish won a free-kick and up stepped De Bruyne, whose attempt clipped the inside of the post and found the net to give the visiting side a 1-0 lead.

If De Bruyne's goal was stylish, Youri Tielemans' volley would have been otherworldly, were it not for a fine stop. The stand-in skipper – donning a rainbow-inspired captain's armband – met Maddison's corner with a fearsome first-time connection but Ederson denied him a stunning equaliser, palming onto the crossbar in front of the South Stand. 

With under 20 minutes to go, a double change saw strikers Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho come on for Söyüncü and Vardy, promoting a switch to a back four to provide more numbers in City's attack. One of Iheanacho's first actions saw him squeeze a strike agonisingly wide on 76 minutes after being located by Maddison.

Tielemans, after contesting an aerial duel with Belgium international team-mate De Bruyne, then required treatment on the pitch with 10 minutes remaining. Thankfully, he was fine to continue as City went in search of a leveller. A good move shortly after led to Justin receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, but he lifted well over with a first-time shot.

Closing in on the final five minutes, Timothy Castagne met Maddison's free-kick into box, however, under pressure from Rodri, he couldn't convert and the ball went behind for a goal-kick.

Leicester's pressure continued, with Iheanacho curling into fellow substitute Daka, but the Zambia striker couldn't quite generate enough power on his header to beat Ederson, who gathered. Then, following Maddison's possession-winning tackle on Aymeric Laporte, Iheanacho drove towards goal, forcing Ederson into another low save.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Tielemans' delivery was very nearly turned into the Man City net by Stones, who watched his header fly wide. Full-time in Leicester, where the Foxes were unable to battle back from De Bruyne's stunning free-kick. 

Major moment – De Bruyne's free-kick

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Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick settle the fixture at King Power Stadium.

It took a moment of magic to separate the two sides on Saturday afternoon, and it was Kevin De Bruyne who would deliver as he rattled a free-kick in off the post to earn three Premier League points for Pep Guardiola's side.

Where do we stand – 17th

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

The City Academy graduate is put under pressure by Rodri in midfield.

After City's 13th match of 2022/23, they're now 17th in the Premier League table ahead of the rest of the weekend's top-flight fixtures.

Coming up – Everton (A)

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Çağlar Söyüncü

Çağlar Söyüncü made his first Premier League start of the season for the Foxes.

City's antepenultimate match before the winter break sees them travel to Goodison Park for a 5:30pm clash with Everton on Saturday 5 November. Newport County visit King Power Stadium in the third round of the Carabao Cup three days later (7:45pm kick-off).

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