Report: Birmingham City 2 Leicester City 3
- Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater and Shinji Okazaki all find the net in the second half for the Foxes.
- The victory completes an unbeaten pre-season campaign for Claudio Ranieri's team.
- Next up for City is the Barclays Premier League opener at home to Sunderland on Saturday 8 August.
A stunning second half fightback saw Leicester City end their pre-season campaign with a brilliant 3-2 victory over Birmingham City at St Andrew's.
The Foxes produced a bright start to the match but conceded twice in a minute halfway through the second half against the run of play. The first was an unstoppable free kick from David Cotterill that came just 60 seconds before Demarai Gray rattled another screamer into the same top corner.
City’s pressure eventually paid off just before the hour mark when Robert Huth arrived at the far post to convert a corner that was flicked on by Andy King and reduce the deficit.
The brilliance of Riyad Mahrez then created the equaliser for the Foxes, as his curling free kick struck the upright before falling kindly for Danny Drinkwater to slot home from close range.
Substitute Shinji Okazaki then completed the comeback in the 83rd minute as he met Mahrez’s cross with a brilliant diving header to round off an unbeaten pre-season for Claudio Ranieri’s side.
Once again in this pre-season City began with a 3-5-2 formation that saw Jeffrey Schlupp and Marc Albrighton employed as wing-backs. The latter was heavily involved in a positive opening five minutes, as City forced three early corners and saw efforts from Marcin Wasilewski and Drinkwater go wide.
At the other end Birmingham wide man Cotterill gave the Foxes a slight scare with a swerving long range strike while for City Ulloa made his presence felt with a powerful header that looped just over Tomasz Kuszcak’s crossbar.
Albrighton’s industry on the right continued to be the source of chances as his perfectly weighted cross allowed Jamie Vardy a volley opportunity that struck the legs of a diving goalkeeper.
Mahrez then went close with a deflected shot but it was Birmingham that would surge ahead against the run of play on 23 minutes through a Cotterill free kick. The winger thundered a dipping effort at goal from 25 yards and there was little Kasper Schmeichel could do as it found the top corner.
With a spring in their step from the goal, the hosts moved into a 2-0 lead just a minute later, when Gray cut in from the left and fired a stunning right footer into the very same corner – again giving Schmeichel no hope of reaching it.
Despite the goals City were looking comfortable in possession and threatened a response when Vardy glanced Albrighton’s cross narrowly wide of goal while another shortly afterwards was volleyed over.
Striker Andrej Kramarić was among the changes for City at the break and he wasted no time in making his presence felt with a timely arrival at the back post to fire in an effort that was kept out only by Kuszczak’s upright.
The quality of delivery into the Birmingham box from the Foxes was high and that pressure eventually told on 58 minutes when Mahrez’s right wing corner was flicked on by King to the far post where Huth guided it home.
In search of the equaliser and after being denied several times in the second half, Mahrez stepped up to the mark at a free kick on the edge of the Birmingham penalty area following a foul on substitute Okazaki.
The Algerian international beat the ‘keeper with his effort, but not the upright. Thankfully Drinkwater was on hand to scramble home the rebound and tie the scoring at 2-2.
The comeback was then complete just seven minutes from time as Okazaki fired in his first goal in a City shirt. It came courtesy of a stunning diving header to direct Mahrez’s driven cross over the line.
It was a goal that crowned a superb unbeaten pre-season for a City side that must now focus all their attentions on the opening weekend’s clash with Sunderland at King Power Stadium.
BIRMINGHAM: Kuszcak, Caddis, Grounds, Spector, Morrison (c), Gray, Gleeson, Donaldson, Shinnie, Cotterill, Kieftenbeld
SUBS: Robinson, Legzdins, Edgar, Eardley, Arthur, Thomas, Davis, Novak, Maghoma, Toral, Hancox, Brown
GOALS: Cotterill 23, Gray 24
CITY: Schmeichel (c), Wasilewski (De Laet 46), Huth, Chilwell (Moore 46), Albrighton (Fuchs 72), King, Drinkwater, Schlupp, Mahrez, Ulloa (Kramaric 46), Vardy (Okazaki 72)
SUBS NOT USED: Schwarzer, Hammond, Lawrence, Simpson, Nugent
GOALS: Huth 58, Drinkwater 76, Okazaki 83
REFEREE: Graham Scott
ATTENDANCE: 7,026 (1,731 away)
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