Dennis Praet

Blackburn Deliver City's Knockout Blow In FA Cup

Blackburn Rovers were 2-1 winners at Leicester City in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening.
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Tyrhys Dolan and Sammie Szmodics struck for the Sky Bet Championship outfit either side of half-time, rendering Kelechi Iheanacho's second-half strike a mere consolation at King Power Stadium.

Jamie Vardy, the Club’s third all-time top goalscorer, was among six players to come into the XI for Brendan Rodgers' 200th game in charge of the Foxes. Daniel Iversen was in goal for the home side too. Ahead of kick-off, meanwhile, there was a minute’s applause in tribute to the legendary late broadcaster John Motson, who sadly passed away last week, aged 77.

Back from injury, Ricardo Pereira, on his first start in nine months, created Leicester’s first chance on a rainy Filbert Way night. The Portuguese full-back drilled across goal and wide from the angle of the penalty area. The home side’s next opportunity was more cutting, but Rovers' net didn’t bulge. Dennis Praet, the Belgium midfielder, teed Tetê up off his right shoulder, the Brazilian being denied by Aynsley Pears in the visitors’ net. Praet then cannoned the rebound straight at the Blackburn ‘keeper again, before Tyler Morton – on loan at Ewood Park from Liverpool – leapt in the way of another follow up from Tetê. 

Vardy was involved, too, on 16 minutes, scampering forwards to run onto Harvey Barnes’ through-ball. The 36-year-old’s first-time hit from a tight angle was parried well by Pears. Goalkeeper Iversen’s first call to action, on the other hand, saw him scoop up Sam Gallagher’s tame drive from 20 yards. The Danish stopper, who had four clean sheets in as many cup games before this tie, then stuck out his left leg to stop Szmodics from picking out the bottom corner. Jon Dahl Tomasson, the Blackburn manager, has inspired a promotion charge this season and the side sat fourth in the second tier were giving a good account of themselves in the East Midlands. 

A perfect tackle from Wout Faes then hooked the ball out of Gallagher’s feet just as he seemed to be away at goal. It was a crucial challenge to stop a one-v-one between Gallagher and Iversen in front of the sodden Spion Kop. Moments after a sterling save to frustrate Dolan from point-blank range, the Blackburn goal that was coming arrived and Iversen’s run of 393 minutes without conceding came to an end. With 33 on the clock, Daniel Amartey’s forward ball was too short, Dolan could take it into his grasp and run. Before long, he was at the gates of City’s penalty area, with no blue shirts nearby. He didn’t need to be let in anyway. Instead, he stroked the ball into the bottom corner, to Iversen’s left, from 20 yards out. 

Into the second half, Boubakary Soumaré lost possession under pressure from Morton, freeing Ryan Hedges to gallop through the middle. The Wales winger locked in on the top left corner but hit the goal’s stanchion. It was a huge opportunity for Rovers, who didn’t know at the time that they’d be doubling their lead just three minutes later. Gallagher picked Luke Thomas’ pocket on the left, also skipping past Soumaré in the centre. He then rolled it to Szmodics, lurking near the penalty spot. A summer recruit from Peterborough United, Szmodics muscled past Ricardo and Amartey, prodding the ball to Iversen’s bottom left. 

Only a laudable save from Iversen kept the scores down. It could have been three on 56 minutes. A give-and-go between Hedges and Szmodics in the box allowed the latter to lash the ball at goal. The City goalkeeper’s thigh diverted it off course and behind for a corner. Leicester couldn’t get out. Soumaré slid in well to halt Dolan’s progress, also forcing Szmodics wide. A glancing touch off Hedges’ left boot, after Morton’s low cross, could have gone anywhere too. It bounced wide of the far post. 

The Foxes needed a spark and Tetê provided it with 67 on the clock. His raking 30-yard ball unlocked a route to goal for Barnes on the opposite side, the left wing. The once-capped England international commuted it forwards and dropped it onto substitute Iheanacho’s left foot. The Nigerian was in front of Dominic Hyam, the Blackburn centre-back, and applied a simple finish from just four yards out. Iheanacho's 18th FA Cup goal in 24 games offered hope for City. They were relieved to see the linesman’s flag raised after Szmodics arrowed the ball through Iversen and into the net. Leicester’s bid to win a second FA Cup was hanging in the balance.

Rodgers had deployed all five of his substitutes with 15 minutes still to play. That move created a front three of Vardy, Iheanacho and Patson Daka. It looked to be a 3-4-3 shape, with Timothy Castagne more advanced than usual on the right. Over the other side, with eight to play, Barnes watched on as his low drive flew the wrong side of Pears’ left post. Iheanacho then curled wide of the other upright, after confidently striding inside and shooting from range. Pears was there, too, to palm away a similar effort from the same culprit seconds later.

Papy Mendy, another player introduced from the bench, very nearly hit his second stunner of the month after no Leicester goals in seven years. Senegal's AFCON champion, though, bulleted the ball inches over the crossbar. In the second of six added minutes, Amartey's header touched the post for the home side also. Blackburn have won the FA Cup six times, but not since 1928. They could celebrate wildly at the full-time whistle, though, as they reached a first quarter-final in eight years.

Major moment – Rovers' second

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Sammie Szmodics

Sammie Szmodics puts the game beyond Leicester early in the second half.

Blackburn had warned Leicester and, when Sammie Szmodics slotted in on 52 minutes, it nudged the visitors beyond their reach. Overturning a two-goal deficit was ultimately too tall an order for the Foxes. 

Where do we stand? – Out of the cup

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

Leicester now turn their attentions to the Premier League.

City exit the FA Cup at the fifth-round stage.

Coming up – Southampton (A)

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Blackburn

Brendan Rodgers' men pushed late on but couldn't find an equaliser.

The Foxes are due in Southampton on Saturday for a 5:30pm GMT kick-off in the Premier League, before welcoming Chelsea to King Power Stadium seven days later. 

The details

Leicester City Crest

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