Cesare Casadei

Fighting Foxes Leave It Late To Beat Cardiff

Leicester City made it four wins in a row at the start of a new season for the first time on Saturday with a last-gasp 2-1 success over Cardiff City at King Power Stadium.
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Wanya Marçal’s first professional strike – a wonderful early hit – put the Foxes ahead before a magnificent Aaron Ramsey equaliser for the Bluebirds on the stroke of half-time. City by no means had it all their own way, but they continued fighting, with new loan signing Cesare Casadei marking his debut with a 92nd-minute winner in front of a full house on Filbert Way. Cardiff’s Mahlon Romeo was also sent off for two bookable offences in three minutes during added time.

This was Leicester’s third late victory in three Sky Bet Championship matches so far in 2023/24 – propelling them up to second in the early table, behind only Ipswich Town on goal difference. Enzo Maresca, the Manager, believes winning games late can be attributed to the Foxes' playing style – where opponents are forced to run by his side's possession-oriented ethos. "For me, there’s a reason why we scored against Coventry and Huddersfield," he said. "The way we play, we make them run a lot. In the second half, they were very tired. We scored a goal, we created chances, and it’s a consequence of the way we played."

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

City had to be patient at times on Saturday.

Before the game, Wilfred Ndidi and Mads Hermansen returned to the XI after missing last weekend’s 1-0 win at Huddersfield Town. The Blue Army were almost rewarded for their loyalty with a superb opener inside the opening 10 minutes. Nigeria international Kelechi Iheanacho collected the ball on the edge of the area, before curling it towards Jak Alnwick’s top corner. The former Manchester City forward’s audacious effort, though, pinged back off the inside of the post. 

It's not been the start to the season which Cardiff will have wanted, first surrendering a two-goal advantage at Leeds United to draw 2-2, before then losing out 2-1 at home to Queens Park Rangers. With Ramsey in the side, however, Erol Bulut’s men will have a chance in every game. The Welshman displayed his quality early on, crossing for Iké Ugbo to head over Hermansen’s bar in front of the Spion Kop. Leicester broke away later on, with Iheanacho carrying the ball down the right flank. The No.14 released Stephy Mavididi – last weekend’s match-winner – but Jamilu Collins’ sliding challenge took the sting out of his shot. 

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Wanya Marçal

Wanya Marçal leads wild celebrations after City's opener in the first half.

Iheanacho tried his luck again on the half-hour, slamming the ball into Mark McGuinness’ back and behind for a corner. Leicester were turning the screw. They appealed for a penalty moments later when Mavididi skipped past Romeo, forcing the Cardiff man to haul him to the floor inside the area. Referee Graham Scott was unmoved. The majority of the 31,595 crowd were dancing in delight soon after. A Dewsbury-Hall corner bounced out to Marçal, around 15 yards from goal, slightly off centre to the right. The Academy graduate – making only his fourth outing for the Club – composed himself and riffled a right-footed half-volley through the area, past Alnwick, and crashing into the inside top corner of the Cardiff net.

The Foxes wanted more. Harry Winks linked up with Iheanacho on the corner of the area. The latter slid the ball into Mavididi, already at full pelt. The former Montpellier man tried to touch the ball past Alnwick, but the visiting ‘keeper was able to stretch a leg out and make the save. Dewsbury-Hall was the next man in blue to test Alnwick, skidding a low effort towards the bottom corner. Cardiff’s No.1, mind you, was able to tip it around the post. The visitors from south Wales were riding their luck, but they got through it without conceding another goal before the break. With seconds of the first half to go, they were level too. A bolt from the blue – from Ramsey’s right boot more specifically – made it 1-1. The Wales international hit it with real venom, rocketing the ball from 25 yards out into Hermansen’s top corner, giving the Dane no chance. It was a sensational goal and the 2,280 away supporters celebrated gleefully into the half-time break. 

"Probably for me, this was our best first half," Maresca reflected, despite Cardiff's goal. "We created three or four chances. We scored a goal and Stephy had a big chance. It’s probably a clear penalty as well. We just conceded one shot, the goal from Ramsey."

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Cesare Casadei

Cesare Casadei turns to the Blue Army after winning it late on.

In any case, Cardiff were the ones pushing early on after the break. Ramsey’s low drive was bravely blocked by Wout Faes and then Hermansen dived to his left to divert Joe Ralls’ shot behind. It really wasn’t going City’s way for the first 10 minutes of the second half. They remained calm, though. Under considerable strain, Ricardo Pereira and Faes played out of the pressure in their own area, eventually releasing Winks to commute the ball forwards. Before long, it was with Dewsbury-Hall in the area, who teed up Callum Doyle to bullet a low shot narrowly wide. It was the epitome of Maresca’s tactical idea, and it saw Leicester go mere inches from equalising.

The second half was becoming an impasse, neither side able to break through. Mavididi blazed over at one end and Cardiff substitute Karlan Grant found the side netting at the other. The introduction of Casadei – Tuesday’s loan signing from Chelsea – offered Leicester a front-footed option for the latter stages. It was Dewsbury-Hall who charged forwards on 74 minutes, before inviting Marçal to shoot, but the youngster scuffed wide. Jamie Vardy made his appearance with 15 to go as well, with the home faithful imploring their side to attack. They had to be careful though, as proven when Romeo’s pass cut City open. Yakou Méïté rushed his big moment, however, and Hermansen was able to watch it bobble wide. 

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Enzo Maresca

Enzo Maresca toasts his fourth win in a row as Foxes Manager.

Time was ticking away. Cardiff weren’t in a hurry to take set-pieces either. It was turning into one of those days, until it didn’t. Two minutes into the six added on, Dewsbury-Hall’s drive hit Jack Simpson. Vardy was quickly onto the loose ball. City’s No.9 was brought down by Simpson in the box. Before the referee could even contemplate giving a penalty, there was Casadei to rake the ball into the net, wheeling away in delight to toast his debut goal. King Power Stadium erupted with joy after another late Leicester City winner – a testament to their fighting spirit. Two heavy challenges from Romeo on Dewsbury-Hall inside three minutes earned him two yellows and red late on. It didn’t matter, the flying Foxes’ work was already done.

Leicester City Crest





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