Kelechi Iheanacho and substitute Jamie Vardy netted either side of the interval for the flying Foxes, who have now widened the gap to third to 10 points. Enzo Maresca’s men have won 10 of their 11 league matches – matching the best-ever start to a Championship season, by Sheffield United 18 years ago. A point or more after the international break – away at Swansea City on 21 October – will make this the greatest start any team has made in the competition’s history. It wasn’t just the result which will have pleased the Manager, though. The football on display was considered, authoritative and comfortable against an organised Potters outfit. There's a long way to go in this mammoth EFL campaign, but momentum is really building now.
Six changes were made to the XI which routinely overcame third-placed Preston North End on Wednesday night after a hectic spell of fixtures for Maresca’s men. Harry Souttar’s maiden league appearance of 2023/24 – against his former club – was the most notable inclusion for City. On perhaps the last warm weekend of the year, the red-hot Foxes were looking to make it six league wins on the spin and a fourth clean sheet in five second-tier matches.
Kelechi Iheanacho is now on five goals in all competitions this season.
Leicester once again knew they’d need to be patient as Stoke deployed the sort of low block which they’re becoming accustomed to on Filbert Way this season. Early on, Jannik Vestergaard – back in the side after suspension – located Abdul Fatawu on the left, with the Ghanian threading it into Harry Winks. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder took a touch and went for goal, finding Luke McNally in his way. In the 20th minute, as the big screens revealed Leicester had held 90 per cent possession up until that point, Iheanacho nodded over after Yunus Akgün’s clever cross.
Four minutes later, they were deservedly ahead. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall centred the ball for Ricardo Pereira, waiting for it on the edge of the box. The Portuguese full-back, utilised more centrally this season, slipped the ball through to Iheanacho. The Nigerian, who perhaps could have done better earlier on, was ice cold. His low drive, in the 24th minute, whizzed through the legs of Stoke ‘keeper Mark Travers and inside the near post from a tight angle. Maresca cut a satisfied figure on the sidelines, after witnessing another example of his dominant, patient playing style reaping its due rewards.
It was, though, becoming a little scrappy before the break. Stoke earned a corner with five minutes of the half remaining, although Jordan Thompson headed wide of Mads Hermansen’s far post. Junior Tchamadeu’s ball across goal was missed by everyone but posed a considerable threat. Alex Neil’s Potters also carved out the first opening of the second half. Mehdi Léris was released quickly down the right flank and crossed for Nathan Lowe, who couldn’t keep his header down. Leicester’s response was to remain calm and try to dictate play, keeping the ball. In the end, they would complete 840 passes to Stoke's 285. After deliberate build-up, Yunus tested Travers from the corner of the box, forcing the shot-stopper to tip it behind.
Harry Winks bursts out of pressure in the middle for the Foxes.
With 20 minutes to play, Vestergaard was able to stick a leg out and divert Lowe’s shot into the side-netting after Bae Junho’s insightful through ball into a congested City 18-yard box. Second-half substitute Stephy Mavididi, Iheanacho and Fatawu all combined on the counter moments later, with Fatawu drilling wide for the Foxes as the game was stretched open. Dewsbury-Hall’s attempted chip was then thwarted by Travers, following an excellent forward pass by Iheanacho. The quality on the Foxes’ bench this season will be a valuable weapon in their arsenal and so it proved to be again here.
Another Vardy scrapbook celebration in front of King Power Stadium’s away end arrived just two minutes after his introduction. In the 79th minute, Fatawu skidded the ball into Wilfred Ndidi, who’d replaced the impressive Cesare Casadei, with the Nigerian fixing the ball at Vardy’s feet. City’s No.9 took no time at all to pick his spot, rolling the ball beyond Travers – his fifth goal of the season in all competitions.
Another memorable Jamie Vardy strike made sure of the points.
Hungry for more, Ndidi poked Mavididi’s bouncing ball straight at the Stoke goalkeeper and later nodded Marc Albrighton’s corner narrowly wide. Vestergaard’s stylish ball was also clipped over the bar in added time by the No.25. McNally blocked Dewsbury-Hall's route to goal as well. Ipswich Town may well be determined to stay in reach, sitting two points behind City after another win of their own, but with an ever-growing safety net in the promotion places, this has been beyond the dreams of many at the Club before the season began. Playing the Enzo way continues to earn wins and plaudits aplenty.
- Share via Facebook
- Share via Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share via Whatsapp
- Share via Facebook Messenger
คัดลอก URL ลงคลิปบอร์ด
URL copied to clipboard