Kelechi Iheanacho

City Ease Into Carabao Cup Second Round With Burton Win

Nigerian duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi were the goalscorers as Leicester City overcame Burton Albion 2-0 on Wednesday to book their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup.
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The Foxes were dominant throughout as they made it two wins from two at the beginning of the new season at Pirelli Stadium. An away trip to Sky Bet League 2 outfit Tranmere Rovers is the three-time winners' reward in the second round. 

"We saw tonight and yesterday that a lot of Championship clubs are out of the competition," Manager Enzo Maresca said at full-time. "It's never easy, but in the end, we made it easy. I'm very happy. I've said that the target in this moment – even if people struggle to believe me – is to see the team working day by day and improve game after game."

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Wilfred Ndidi & Harry Winks

Wilfred Ndidi celebrates his strike with Harry Winks at the end of the first half.

City arrived in high spirits after the euphoric last-gasp victory over Coventry City on Sunday – the perfect start to the new Sky Bet Championship campaign. The Manager shuffled his pack to the tune of seven changes, handing Polish goalkeeper Jakub Stolarczyk a senior debut. The pre-match entertainment in Staffordshire was drowned out by 1,940 Foxes supporters determined to enjoy a balmy summer’s night under the lights. While City’s 2023/24 started with a win, Burton opened the Sky Bet League 1 season with a 2-0 reverse at Blackpool on Saturday. Nevertheless, the visitors anticipated a tough challenge, and it was a strong XI selected by Maresca, with six full internationals starting out in blue.

The two sides exchanged early blows, with Iheanacho heading over inside 60 seconds, just before Wout Faes bravely blocked Joe Powell’s low rocket. The Foxes’ opener came just six minutes in. It was the epitome of the football Maresca is trying to deploy at the Club too. It all started at the back. Leicester were under significant scrutiny in their defensive third but kept their cool to play through the pressure. Before long, the ball was at the feet of Marc Albrighton – City’s skipper for the night – and his cross was back-heeled calmly into the net by Iheanacho. Maresca’s reaction was to turn to Stolarczyk to applaud the shot-stopper’s role in the move. 

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Enzo Maresca

A thoughtful Enzo Maresca watches on at Pirelli Stadium.

Leicester were in control of the ball, often north of 80 per cent in the possession stakes. There were flashes of quality too. Wanya Marçal-Madivadua did especially well to side-step his man on the left flank before slamming the ball at Jake Caprice. Hamza Choudhury – who had two loan spells at Pirelli Stadium earlier in his career – also tracked back tremendously to halt Bobby Kamwa’s advances. There were muted Burton calls for a penalty later on when Harry Winks and James Justin went in on Steve Seddon, but the referee was unmoved. The Foxes were on top, but the game wasn’t yielding many shots at goal. 

As I've said many times, the only way to score a goal for them is to arrive into the box. [The midfielders] are key players for us.

Enzo Maresca

The Brewers stirred before the interval as well. Caprice’s cross was nodded goalwards by Ryan Sweeney in the 45th minute. His header was on target but struck Callum Doyle’s thigh instead of the net. The ex-Coventry man was about to play a key role in City’s second soon after. His quick release freed Iheanacho down the left channel. The forward burst forwards, looked to his right, and slid the ball over to international team-mate Ndidi. Leicester’s No.25, offered more attacking freedom by Maresca, then gently stroked the ball into Jamal Blackman’s top corner. Hugs all round. In the blink of an eye, the visitors had gone from almost losing their lead to doubling it and were now in a commanding position at half-time. Midfielders finding the net is becoming a feature of this new season.

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Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho put in a Man of the Match display in Staffordshire.

"It's fantastic for them," Maresca added. "As I've said many times, the only way to score a goal for them is to arrive into the box. They are key players for us."

Burton’s second-tier guests started the second period on the offensive. Iheanacho fired straight at Blackman. Ndidi’s low cross caused chaos, with the Burton ‘keeper sticking out a desperate arm to keep the deflection out. Winks drilled it at goal too, but Deji Oshilaja blocked on the line. A turn of skill from Marçal-Madivadua allowed him to shoot from a tight angle, the Portuguese sending it wide. Josh Gordon, a former member of City’s Development Squad came off the bench for Burton in the first half, and he curled wide for the hosts after the hour. Faes also headed Albrighton’s corner over the bar in front of a noisy away end. 

Burton strived in vain for a consolation goal in added time, with gutsy headers from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Dennis Praet keeping Dino Maamria's men at bay. Leicester's control continued until the final whistle in truth, allowing the near-2,000 Blue Army to go through hymn sheets of yesteryear. They ended the night, though, singing of Enzo's Blue and White Army. 

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