Jamie Vardy

Foxes Ease To MK Dons Win In Carabao Cup

Leicester City returned to competitive action after five weeks away by coasting to a 3-0 away victory over MK Dons on Tuesday evening, booking a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.
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Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Pérez and Jamie Vardy all struck at Stadium MK to put the three-time winners in the hat for the last eight of the competition for the fifth time in the past six seasons. It's now six wins in seven in all competitions for City and eight clean sheets from their last 10 matches.

A total of 6,559 wrapped-up travelling fans had made the straightforward journey down the M1 for this festive cup clash in Buckinghamshire – 38 days after City’s 2-0 win at West Ham United, their last Premier League outing before the FIFA World Cup.

Five of the players to have travelled to Qatar started the fourth-round tie for the Foxes – Danny Ward, Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Wout Faes and Tielemans. Harvey Barnes also lined up against the club where he netted six goals in 21 appearances on loan back in 2017.

Tielemans adorned the skipper’s armband and Vardy led the line in a strong XI. A 4-2-3-1 shape was Brendan Rodgers’ system of choice from the off against a Dons side boosted by three valuable Sky Bet League 1 points against Portsmouth at the weekend.

There were a cavernous 54 places between the two sides in the football pyramid at kick-off, though, with the Dons sat 22nd in the third tier. 

The tempo was Leicester’s to dictate from the off, with Castagne and Luke Thomas overlapping down the flanks, carving useful openings in the middle. MK Dons accepted their role in proceedings, allowing City to hold possession, but trying to squeeze them into tight corners where possible. 

Their efforts were largely in vain, and the stalemate lasted only 18 minutes. There was a fizz to Leicester's forward play, and it paid off handsomely with a zippy opener in the Buckinghamshire chill. It started when Thomas threaded the eye of the needle to spot Barnes on the left channel.

City’s No.7 then squared it low into Vardy, perched in the area, almost on the penalty spot. His inventive flick would have been some goal, but it bounced off Jamie Cumming's knee. Never mind, Tielemans was lurking on the edge of the area, poised to pounce, and he was able to stroke it into a gaping net.

Zak Jules, the MK Dons defender, was soon to play a leading role at each end. Moments after blocking Faes’ header at an acute angle, the Scotland youth international then looped Josh McEachran’s free-kick narrowly over City’s bar. Ward seemed unconcerned in any case.

In truth, it had been a relatively serene first half for the visitors, but there was a significant scare on 28 minutes when the home faithful appealed for a penalty after Faes challenged Daniel Harvie a studs’ width inside the 18-yard box. Nothing given by referee Andre Marriner. 

Ruthlessly, Leicester doubled their lead seconds later – with another goal worthy of their Premier League pedigree. 

Pérez, one of many within Tuesday’s XI to have lifted both the FA Cup and the Community Shield at the Club, would be the scorer. The Spaniard plucked Thomas’ inch-perfect forward ball out of the heavens with a single, sublime touch, later calmly slotting it into the bottom corner. 

On the eve of his 28th birthday, how Amartey played the Foxes out of trouble at the back before the interval spoke volumes. Rodgers’ men from the Midlands were enjoying themselves after over five weeks with no domestic football in their calendars. 

The full-to-the-brim away end was singing Vardy's name four minutes into the second half. Castagne did much of the ground work down the right, planting the ball onto the head of Leicester's iconic No.9. He wasn't going to miss the target from five yards out and Cumming couldn't get in the way either. 

Barnes, who scored three times at Stadium MK five years ago, was desperately unlucky to see his header skid wide moments later. An inspired corner routine pierced MK Dons in two, with Tielemans arrowing it through to Castagne, galloping into the box. Soumaré inadvertently got in the way, though. 

The latest phase in young Will Alves' development came later on, with a second senior appearance for the Foxes, from the bench. Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho were already on, while Marc Albrighton entered the fray alongside Alves, 17, with just over 10 minutes remaining.  

Kasey McAteer, another Academy hopeful, also saw action in the latter moments on an enjoyable evening for Leicester City and their hordes of fans.

Major moment – Pérez's flash of brilliance

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Ayoze Pérez

Ayoze Pérez toasts his first goal of the 2022/23 season with his Leicester City team-mates.

As the clock approached the half-hour in Buckinghamshire, mere seconds separated a substantial penalty appeal from MK Dons and Ayoze Pérez's magnificent strike to make it 2-0 to the Foxes. It was a key juncture in the game, although Brendan Rodgers' men were comfortable throughout.  

Who impressed? – Thomas shines in blue

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Luke Thomas

Syston-raised Luke Thomas was in impressive form for the Foxes on Tuesday night.

Former LCFC striker Iwan Roberts said live on LCFC Radio: "I thought young Luke Thomas was brilliant tonight. It would be too easy to give it to Youri [Tielemans] again! Thomas delivered a really solid performance tonight and it was his assist for [Ayoze] Pérez's goal too."

Where does it leave us? – The last-eight, again

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Youri Tielemans

Belgium's Youri Tielemans marked his return to domestic action with a goal 18 minutes in.

Three-time winners City advance into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, with the draw taking place on Thursday evening. Those ties will be played during the week commencing 9 January.

Coming up – The Magpies on Boxing Day

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Leicester City fans

Some 6,559 fans made the trip to Stadium MK.

Premier League duties resume on Boxing Day against Newcastle United (3pm kick-off). The Foxes are then due on Merseyside to tackle Liverpool next Friday (8pm kick-off), before starting 2023 by hosting Fulham on 3 January (7:45pm kick-off). All times GMT. 

The details…

Leicester City Crest

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