Leicester City

Iheanacho Goal Sends City Through At Walsall

Kelechi Iheanacho scored his 50th Leicester City goal to see the Foxes into the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round with a 1-0 win over Walsall on Saturday afternoon.
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The Nigerian forward, who scored the winner at Gillingham in the last round, was once again City’s hero, coming off the bench to net his 17th goal from 23 appearances in the competition.

Brendan Rodgers opted for three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League last Saturday, with Daniel Iversen returning between the sticks in place of Danny Ward, while James Maddison made his first start since the FIFA World Cup. Dennis Praet moved to the bench.

There was also a change in attack, as Patson Daka replaced the injured Jamie Vardy (glute). Elsewhere, January signing Victor Kristiansen was selected in the matchday squad for the first time, named among the substitutes, while Ayoze Pérez missed out due to a shin problem.

Facing Sky Bet League 2 opponents away from home for the second successive FA Cup tie, Leicester came up against a team unbeaten in all but one of their last 13 games. On a tight pitch, it was a battle from the first whistle.  

The hosts, buoyed by a sell-out crowd of 10,297, which included 2,316 Foxes fans, started on the front foot. Robbie Willmott whipped in an early cross that Daniel Amartey had to head away, before further pressure from the Saddlers was dealt with.

Penalty appeals were soon waved away by referee Gavin Ward when Daka hit the turf under a challenge after collecting Harvey Barnes’ centre, shortly before Luke Thomas took aim from distance and Saddlers skipper Donervon Daniels got his body in the way.

Timothy Castagne then found space for a cross from the right and it was met by City’s Zambian forward with a flying leap, though he failed to direct it on target. The same combination produced a similar result, minutes later.

City’s fourth-tier opponents remained dangerous in attack themselves. A quick corner routine allowed Tom Knowles a sight of goal from the edge of the 18-yard box, requiring Iversen to make a diving save, before Andy Williams was penalised for handball as he tried to latch on to the rebound.

Knowles, involved again, reached the byline and cut the ball back across for Williams, but this time Wout Faes was in the right place to clear. At the other end, the ball sat up for Youri Tielemans to hit. It wasn’t to be one of his special strikes, however, sailing wide of Owen Evans’ goal.

Challenges were flying in and after Maddison was carded for protesting about the lack of a free-kick, Hayden White also went into the referee’s book for taking down Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

Space remained limited but the Foxes, now dominating possession, managed to create down the right and Tielemans, linking up with Maddison in the build-up, picked out Daka in the middle, with the striker’s swivel and shot having to be stopped by Evans.

England international Maddison took aim himself after twisting and turning from the left, but sent the effort off target, as did Daka after collecting Thomas’ pass.

Within two minutes of the restart, Leicester were presented with a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. Daka was sent tumbling in the box and after the referee pointed to the spot, Tielemans stepped up to take. But the Belgium midfielder could not convert from 12 yards, striking the post, much to the agony of the Leicester fans positioned behind that goal.

The hosts charged straight up the other end, with Williams volleying narrowly over the crossbar from Willmott’s cross. Iversen was called into action, too, forced into a diving save from Jacob Maddox’s header, though the offside flag would have denied him in any case.

Chances continued to come. Dewsbury-Hall threaded in Barnes, but the angle was tight and allowed Evans to save. The ‘keeper also thwarted Tielemans’ long-range attempt, getting up quickly to deny Daka on the rebound too.

Just after the hour mark, changes were made. Praet, Iheanacho and Kristiansen all introduced, the latter for his debut, replacing Maddison, Daka and Thomas. Iheanacho almost had an instant impact, drifting over to the left to pick up Tielemans’ clearance, before finding Evans equal to his effort.

The striker was not to be denied on 68 minutes, however, as his left-footed strike took a deflection before looping up over Evans and into the roof of the net. One-nil Leicester.

The other two substitutes combined to good effect as the team in blue looked to double the advantage. Kristiansen arrived into the box to connect with Praet’s cross, but blazed over and into the crowd.

Barnes could have made it more comfortable late on, latching onto Tielemans’ backheel, but Evans stood strong. Likewise, when Praet pinched possession high up, crossing for Iheanacho to strike straight at the shot-stopper.

Academy graduate Dewsbury-Hall then twice came close, firing a shot which failed to trouble Evans, before dragging Kristiansen’s centre narrowly past the post.

There was a brief moment of panic once Douglas James-Taylor’s header was only parried by Iversen, but the Dane managed to pounce on the loose ball at the second attempt and help confirm progression.

The final minute of normal time brought another Iheanacho shot, after good work from Barnes, but it landed in the stand. Nevertheless, Leicester were through.

Major moment – Iheanacho’s strike

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Kelechi Iheanacho

Iheanacho celebrates his strike in front of the travelling Leicester support.

With neither side able to break through in the opening hour, it would require a moment of magic or fortune to separate the sides. Kelechi Iheanacho provided it, via a deflection, to bring up a milestone goal and a crucial one in the context of the game.

Who impressed? – KDH

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

A solid display from City's No.22 in the midfield.

Former Fox Gerry Taggart commented during LCFC Radio's live coverage: “Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall – he set the tone and drove the team forwards. It’s as simple as that. In the first half, I couldn’t pick anybody out, but in the second half, he got the ball rolling. He could have finished the game off in a tight game, but he set the tone and he was excellent.”

Where do we stand? – Into round five

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Victor Kristiansen

A debut from the bench for City's new Danish full-back.

City progress into the fifth round, with the draw set to take place at 7pm GMT on Monday evening. 

Coming up – Villa (A)

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Youri Tielemans

Leicester are returning to Premier League duties next Saturday, facing Aston Villa at Villa Park in a 3pm GMT kick-off. 

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