New-Look Foxes Triumphant At Villa

New signing Tetê was among the goals as Leicester City emerged from a pulsating Premier League encounter at Aston Villa with a 4-2 victory on Saturday.
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Ollie Watkins put the Villans in front early on, before James Maddison immediately got City back level. Although Harry Souttar, another new recruit, netted an unlucky own goal to make it 2-2, Kelechi Iheanacho and Tetê put the Foxes ahead at half-time. Dennis Praet then wrapped up a memorable afternoon for the Blue Army with a late fourth in Birmingham.

City’s XI had been given a lick of paint beforehand, as three January signings made Premier League debuts – with full-back Victor Kristiansen starting alongside Souttar and Tetê. Iheanacho, on the other hand, was rewarded for two goals in as many Emirates FA Cup ties with only his second top-flight start of the 2022/23 campaign to date.

That freshness in Leicester’s line-up created a swell of pre-match optimism and there were just under 3,000 Foxes fans in the Doug Ellis Stand. One of six three o’clock kick-offs on a Saturday, hosted inside one of English football’s most historic grounds, it was a throwback as the two sides emerged from the tunnel. A sea of Brazil flags in the away end also offered a glimpse into the excitement harnessed by Tetê’s arrival at the Football Club. It felt like a new start in some respects for Leicester.

There was defensive work to be done early on, though, with Academy graduate Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall halting Douglas Luiz’s drive at goal inside 60 seconds. Kristiansen then needed to be alert to a superb ball in from Leon Bailey, aimed at Jacob Ramsey at the far post. The Dane touched it behind, but Villa’s momentum was bubbling.

In the 10th minute, they were ahead. Emiliano Buendía rattled the crossbar from the edge of City’s box and Watkins was there to hit it past Danny Ward with the outside of his right boot. It was hardly the start Leicester had intended, but they weren’t prepared to let this game get away from them that easily – especially Shepshed’s own, Dewsbury-Hall.

It was KDH who robbed Boubacar Kamara in the Villa box, first offloading it to Iheanacho. He couldn’t get a shot away, but not to worry, he gave it to Maddison instead. And City's No.10 was there to knock it past Emiliano Martínez, sending the travelling Blue Army into raptures. That was his eighth goal in 15 Premier League appearances this term. 

Villa were unfortunate not to retake the lead heading towards the half-hour mark when Watkins – with a gaping net in front of him – scuffed Buendía’s low cross, allowing Kristiansen to clear it from danger. Ward then tipped Bailey’s daisy-cutter behind, before Buendía – a frequent menace – glanced his header off the bar. 

That pressure told seconds later. When Watkins squared the ball into the area, Souttar was the unlucky man in blue to stick a leg out and he had to watch it bobble past Ward, into his own net. Maddison was nearly the architect of another immediate response for City, mind you, skidding a long-range curler wide. The tables were about to turn again.

Kristiansen was in the thick of it, keeping the ball alive, before Harvey Barnes whipped it onto Iheanacho’s head – the Nigerian drifting in and nodding it into the far bottom corner. Cue more delirious celebrations among the Foxes faithful tucked away in the north-eastern corner of Villa Park. A real classic was unfolding in Birmingham. 

The next twist upped the ante even further – and gave the Foxes a precious advantage on the cusp of half-time. Iheanacho cut Villa open, inviting Tetê to glide into an open pocket of space, skip past Martínez, and clip the ball into an empty net. A splash of Brazilian magic had lit up a grey February afternoon and Leicester’s raucous away following were bouncing. 

It was so nearly 4-2 inside the first two minutes of the second half, Iheanacho missing the target after being played through by Youri Tielemans. Ward was then called upon to palm Buendía's 20-yarder wide, before Timothy Castagne got in the way of half-time substitute Philippe Coutinho's low cross. It was all happening at Villa Park and the pace wasn't letting up. Tetê then missed the target, by mere inches, after cutting inside from the right flank in front of the Holte End.

While Villa's fans were calling for a throw-in, Tetê was busying himself with dancing past Buendía and belting the ball just inches over the crossbar. The Brazilian winger, formerly of Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon, was showcasing his talents on a new stage. Wout Faes, on the other hand, got a decisive touch onto Bailey's hurried shot from close range to avert the danger once again. Souttar also put a huge sliding challenge in on Watkins, provoking a roar from the travelling fans.

A game laden with goals had gone over 25 minutes without one and, while Coutinho did breach Ward's line, an offside flag was Leicester's reprieve. Brendan Rodgers had just elected to introduce Papy Mendy, Jamie Vardy and Praet from the bench – taking Dewsbury-Hall, Maddison and Iheanacho off. It was a triple change with high stakes, but his side were defending valiantly. 

While Villa-Leicester isn't historically the spiciest of all-Midlands clashes, there's still grudges to bear. The atmosphere reflected that and so did the limbs in the away end when Praet slotted Barnes' lofted pass in to make it four for the Foxes. Those 2,999 Foxes fans in the Doug Ellis Stand could see out the game running through their repertoire, savouring a vintage LCFC performance.

Major moment – Tetê puts Leicester ahead

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Tetê's first goal for the Club ultimately turned the tide in a topsy-turvy game.

The presence of Tetê's name on the teamsheet was reason enough for City fans to be excited at kick-off, but the performance which followed certainly warranted that optimism. His goal before half-time proved crucial for Leicester too. 

Who impressed? – City's first-ever Brazilian

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Tetê & Brendan Rodgers

Brazilian winger Tetê sparkled on his Leicester debut.

Former Foxes skipper Matt Elliott said: "Tetê was brilliant today. He brought that attacking threat on the right-hand side which Leicester City have needed."

Where do we stand? – 13th in the league

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James Maddison

James Maddison scored City's first goal of the afternoon at Villa Park.

The Foxes rise to 13th in the Premier League, with 21 points from 21 games and a goal difference of -5.

Coming up – Spurs (H)

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Dennis Praet

Dennis Praet makes no attempt to hide his delight after netting City's fourth.

Leicester City return to Filbert Way next weekend for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (3pm kick-off). The following Sunday, it's a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United (2pm kick-off). All times GMT.

The details…

Leicester City Crest





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