Stephy Mavididi

Late FA Cup Defeat At Chelsea For Brave 10-Man Foxes

A helter-skelter Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final tie at Chelsea ended in a 4-2 defeat for Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, despite the Foxes battling back from two goals down before being reduced to 10 men.
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Close-range finishes from Marc Cucurella and Cole Palmer came either side of Jakub Stolarczyk's penalty save, denying Raheem Sterling before half-time in west London. City, though, had shown signs of promise despite being a division below their Premier League hosts and capitalised when Axel Disasi's freakish own goal from 35 yards out halved the deficit. A stunning curler from Stephy Mavididi – his 11th goal of the season – got the visitors back level on the hour, but Callum Doyle's red card put the game back in the hosts' favour. Initially given a yellow card at the expense of a penalty, VAR intervened to instead award a free-kick on the cusp of the area and upgrade the punishment to a straight red card with 17 minutes to play. Excellent goals from Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke inside eight additional minutes, meanwhile, ultimately separated the teams. Leicester will now return their focus to the Sky Bet Championship promotion race, visiting Bristol City after the international break.

Enzo Maresca’s XI in the capital saw four changes from last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Hull City in the second tier. Goalkeeper Stolarczyk continued his cup run between the sticks, while Doyle, Wilfred Ndidi and Patson Daka also returned to the line-up. It was a strong Chelsea side, too, with the likes of Mykhailo Mudryk, Nicolas Jackson and Moisés Caicedo all in from the off for Mauricio Pochettino's eight-time FA Cup winners. There were moments of real quality from Leicester throughout, but losing a man with just under 20 minutes of normal time remaining eventually gave them too much to do. Against a Chelsea side intent on adding to their enormous trophy collection, it was always a tall order.

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Jakub Stolarczyk

Jakub Stolarczyk saves to deny Raheem Sterling from the penalty spot.

Backed by over 6,000 travelling fans and wearing their popular black and Cambridge blue away kit, the Foxes nevertheless looked to play their own game from the start. That was evident when a well-worked corner inside the first two minutes ended with Harry Winks’ half-volley bouncing behind. There was alarm inside the opposite penalty area, though, when Mudryk’s corner was flicked on by Palmer and the Englishman's effort licked the far post before Doyle hacked it away from danger. Although City will have taken encouragement from their start in the capital, they were behind after just 13 minutes. It came as Jackson burst away down the right flank and the Senegalese was able to force his way past Jannik Vestergaard. His cross was low and well timed for Cucurella, who just needed to apply a simple finish beyond Stolarczyk at the far post.

Later on, Leicester will have been grateful to see Mudryk fire straight at Sterling, his Chelsea team-mate, when the ball rolled over to the Ukrainian playmaker in space on the 18-yard line. A vital touch from Ndidi then stopped another advance from Pochettino's hosts. There was a storm to be weathered by the visitors, with the Blues looking to put the tie to bed early on. The Foxes had settled, however, and were ready to mount a push for a goal of their own. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s cross needed to be nodded behind by Cucurella to stop it reaching Abdul Fatawu. Daka then glanced narrowly wide from City’s next foray forwards. But momentum was hard to build in the game for the Championship visitors. Midway through the half, when Fatawu challenged Sterling from behind in the area, it was a penalty to the hosts. Referee Andrew Madley pointed immediately to the spot and the England forward stepped up himself from 12 yards. Stolarczyk, though, has not put a foot wrong when called upon this term and the Polish ‘keeper made a fine stop with his legs to deny Sterling from the spot.  

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Stephy Mavididi

Stephy Mavididi's equaliser looked at the time to give City a chance at victory.

City needed to capitalise on that reprieve and Wout Faes was the next man to send a header wide, from Fatawu’s corner, although Chelsea also continued to threaten. Stolarczyk had to beat away Mudryk's effort from range and then Caicedo arrowed his attempt over the bar. A second Chelsea goal arrived before the break, but not before Sterling side-footed wide after a direct advance through the middle involving Caicedo and then Jackson which carved Leicester open. Sterling would make amends just seconds later, though, charging down the left channel and teeing up Palmer to convert at the near post to make it 2-0 a minute into first-half added time. Conor Gallagher also curled wide for the home side before the interval. When the Foxes emerged for the second half, they were handed a route back in remarkable fashion. Under pressure from Daka on the left wing, Disasi hit it back to Sánchez, not realising the goalkeeper was way off his line. It flew past the Chelsea No.1 and bounced across the line, giving a startled away end – taking up an entire stand – something to cheer.

Striving not to let their guests back into it, Chelsea put the foot down for a third. Jackson first smashed a powerful drive into the side netting while Caicedo also shot straight at Stolarczyk deep into the Leicester box. But the Foxes’ tails were up. If only Daka were an inch or two taller, the Zambian would have made contact with Fatawu’s dinked cross on 56 minutes and diverted it past Sánchez for an equaliser. Daka did get his head on Ndidi’s cross from the byline moments later, but the angle wasn’t kind – he needed more room to twist his body – and he sent his effort wide. Mavididi, on the other hand, has been the architect of some of Leicester’s best goals this season and he was about to treat the Blue Army to another. Just after the hour, the former Juventus winger cut inside Malo Gusto, barrelling into the mixer, on the left-most angle of the area. He looked up, spotted a gap, and curled a superb leveller through the bodies and into the far corner to get City back on parity.

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Blue Army

There were over 6,000 Foxes fans in the capital on Sunday.

There was quite some pace to the game as it wore on, with Chelsea determined to regain control as soon as possible. Palmer’s curler from range hit the stanchion behind the goal before Vestergaard dived in heroically to prevent Sterling from hitting the target. Mudryk also curled over. A chaotic few minutes was to come, which first had Leicester rueing a conceded penalty and a yellow card for Doyle, before VAR intervened to switch the punishment to a free-kick and a red. The Manchester City loanee – Leicester's last defender chasing back – had clipped Jackson on the edge of the box as the Chelsea striker galloped towards goal. Replays showed the challenge came outside the area which, while cause for celebration in usual circumstances, also necessitated that Doyle’s punishment would be escalated to a straight dismissal. While Sterling belted the resulting free-kick well over, Maresca had to juggle his line-up. On came James Justin and Conor Coady, replacing Mavididi and Ndidi, while Yunus Akgün had also earlier been introduced. 

With a bank of five along the back, City’s plan appeared to be to soak up pressure and counter quickly, but it was going to be a bumpy ride with them being a man down – and so the late onslaught began in earnest. Palmer’s strong hit crashed into Faes’ face. Stolarczyk made a sterling stop to frustrate Madueke. Jackson then crashed over from close range. It was on the edge, but Maresca’s 10 men couldn’t hang on forever. Chelsea's quality would shine through eventually and eight minutes of added time was just too much. It was a silky move which led to the Blues’ breakthrough. A one-two between Chukwuemeka and Palmer is what it took the unlock the Leicester rearguard, with the former applying a tidy 92nd-minute finish to put the home side into the semi-finals. Madueke's brilliant strike in the eighth minute of added time, from outside the box, was a touch of gloss for the home side. A memorable FA Cup tie had gone the way of the hosts but, for Leicester, the priority remains making sure an away trip to Chelsea is a Premier League assignment for them next season.

Leicester City Crest





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