Giant Leicester wake up, tame, shame Liverpool!

February 27, 2017

Simon Mignolet is left to pick the ball out from the back of the net as Vardy wheels away to celebrate his second goal

Simon Mignolet is left to pick the ball out from the back of the net as Vardy wheels away to celebrate his second goal

Former non-League man jumps for joy as Leicester stunned their opponents by taking a three-goal lead in front of home fans

Jamie Vardy overhit his cross and Riyad Mahrez chased it all the way to the corner in a way that seemed strangely unfamiliar.

Christian Fuchs arrived at pace and the pair exchanged quick, urgent passes. Fuchs centred, perfectly, and there was Vardy to head Leicester’s third.

‘Leicester City,’ sang the fans, ‘we know what we are.’ Indeed we do; but the players would get very upset if we said it. For this was a performance that bore as much resemblance to what we have seen from these players as Leicester 2015-16 does to the campaign so far.

 Jamie Vardy latches on to Marc Albrighton's inch-perfect through ball to slot home Leicester City's opening goal

Vardy, who was accused of playing a role in Claudio Ranieri's sacking, silences his critics by scoring against Liverpool 

Vardy, who was accused of playing a role in Claudio Ranieri’s sacking, silences his critics by scoring against Liverpool

Vardy and Leicester fans breathe a sigh of relief as the England striker celebrates his goal with team-mate Shinji Okazaki

Vardy and Leicester fans breathe a sigh of relief as the England striker celebrates his goal with team-mate Shinji Okazaki

Danny Drinkwater caps off a perfect first-half performance from Leicester by volleying in a second goal to stun the Reds

Danny Drinkwater caps off a perfect first-half performance from Leicester by volleying in a second goal to stun the Reds

The former Manchester United midfielder wheels away to celebrate his stunning finish in the opening period at King Power 

The former Manchester United midfielder wheels away to celebrate his stunning finish in the opening period at King Power

The Leicester players, who were playing their first match following Ranieri's sacking last week, celebrate their second goal 

The Leicester players, who were playing their first match following Ranieri’s sacking last week, celebrate their second goal

Vardy grabs his second goal of the night to make it 3-0, meeting Christian Fuchs' cross with this powerful header

Vardy grabs his second goal of the night to make it 3-0, meeting Christian Fuchs’ cross with this powerful header

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho picks his spot to score a late goal for Liverpool, but it proved no more than a consolation strike

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho picks his spot to score a late goal for Liverpool, but it proved no more than a consolation strike

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, MATCH ZONE AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE FROM THE KING POWER

LEICESTER CITY (4-4-1-1): Schmeichel 7.5; Simpson 7.5, Morgan 7.5, Huth 7.5, Fuchs 7; Mahrez 7 (Gray 79′), Drinkwater 7.5, Ndidi 8, Albrighton 8 (Chilwell 90); Okazaki 7 (Amartey 68′); Vardy 8.5

Subs not used: King, Slimani, Zieler, Ulloa

Goals: Vardy 28, 60; Drinkwater 39

Manager: Craig Shakespeare 8

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Mignolet 6; Clyne 6, Matip 6, Lucas 5 (Woodburn 84′), Milner 6; Lallana 5 (Origi 66′ 6), Can 5, Wijnaldum 5.5; Mane 5 (Moreno 66′ 5), Firmino 6, Coutinho 7

Subs not used: Karius, Klavan, Stewart, Alexander-Arnold

Goal: Coutinho 68

Manager: Jurgen Klopp 5.5

Referee: Michael Oliver 7

Attendance: 32,034

MoM: Jamie Vardy

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  • Team P GD Pts
    1 Chelsea 26 36 63
    2 Tottenham Hotspur 26 32 53
    3 Manchester City 25 22 52
    4 Arsenal 25 26 50
    5 Liverpool 26 22 49
    6 Manchester United 25 17 48
    7 Everton 26 15 44
    8 West Bromwich Albion 26 4 40
    9 West Ham United 26 -9 33
    10 Stoke City 26 -10 32
    11 Burnley 26 -9 31
    12 Watford 26 -13 31
    13 Southampton 25 -3 30
    14 Bournemouth 26 -15 26
    15 Leicester City 26 -17 24
    16 Swansea City 26 -25 24
    17 Middlesbrough 26 -9 22
    18 Crystal Palace 26 -13 22
    19 Hull City 26 -27 21
    20 Sunderland 26 -24 19
Jamie Vardy (No 9) latched on to Marc Albrighton's (No 11) through ball to confidently open the scoring for Leicester. CLICK HERE for more of our brilliant Match Zone service. 

Jamie Vardy (No 9) latched on to Marc Albrighton’s (No 11) through ball to confidently open the scoring for Leicester

Danny Drinkwater (No 4) doubled their tally in stunning fashion, hitting a superb half-volley from 25 yards out

Danny Drinkwater (No 4) doubled their tally in stunning fashion, hitting a superb half-volley from 25 yards out

Vardy looked one of the best goalscorers in the Premier League again, the defence were forceful and tight, even Mahrez put in a shift. Kasper Schmeichel made several good saves — from Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana — and Coutinho pulled one back for Liverpool after 68 minutes, but there was only going to be one winner here.

As they were last year, Leicester are simply better at Liverpool’s greatest strength. The pace and effort Jurgen Klopp seeks in his own men pales beside Leicester on a good day. They were ferocious again, closing the red shirts down, harrying, hustling.

Liverpool could not handle them, could not cope with the absence of time, the speed with which everything had to be done. Klopp’s team have not lost a game this season with more than a week to prepare, and they had a fortnight to ready themselves for this.

But they weren’t ready for Leicester – not for a team that now appears revitalised having rid themselves of the coach who engineered the greatest campaign in English football history.

In the 65th minute – Claudio Ranieri’s age – the fans sang his name, but who knows if he was even watching. If he was, it may have been with pursed lips. Here were his boys, back to their best, but considering what had gone before, it was hardly edifying.

The under-fire Leicester City players huddle up for a team talk ahead of kick-off against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side

Robert Huth, the former Chelsea centre back, rises above the Liverpool defenders to head towards goal in the opening half

Robert Huth, the former Chelsea centre back, rises above the Liverpool defenders to head towards goal in the opening half

Mignolet shows safe hands to prevent relegation-threatened Leicester from scoring a deserved early opening goal

Mignolet shows safe hands to prevent relegation-threatened Leicester from scoring a deserved early opening goal

Vardy, who is yet to replicate his goalscoring exploits of last season, lets fly with a long-range right-footed shot

Vardy, who is yet to replicate his goalscoring exploits of last season, lets fly with a long-range right-footed shot

Liverpool playmaker Coutinho times his tackle well to challenge Leicester winger  Albrighton during the early stages of clash

Liverpool playmaker Coutinho times his tackle well to challenge Leicester winger Albrighton during the early stages of clash

Shinji Okazaki reacts on the King Power Stadium grass after missing a chance to break the deadlock against the Reds 

Shinji Okazaki reacts on the King Power Stadium grass after missing a chance to break the deadlock against the Reds 

The fact is, Leicester played the first half like champions. Champion chisellers.

There was nothing in this display to convince us that Ranieri had been anything but the victim of a dressing-room coup.

This was a different Leicester. Not a new Leicester, because we have seen it before, but a Leicester that had not been sighted since May last year and the title run-in.

They snapped into Liverpool with a ferocity and desire that has simply been missing. They played it fast, played it furious, played with the intensity Klopp seeks from his men. And just as they had in this fixture last season, that relentlessness just blew Liverpool away.

It is just over a year since these teams met at the King Power Stadium, a Leicester win that confirmed their seriousness as title contenders and served as a prelude to the win Ranieri was proudest of all season — away at Manchester City.

Leicester chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (right) and vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha watch the action 

Leicester chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (right) and vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha watch the action 

Kasper Schmeichel, another star member of the title-winning squad last year, reacts after his side miss a chance to score 

Kasper Schmeichel, another star member of the title-winning squad last year, reacts after his side miss a chance to score 

 England striker Vardy had a great chance to open the scoring after a superb first touch but he fired straight at Mignolet 

England striker Vardy had a great chance to open the scoring after a superb first touch but he fired straight at Mignolet 

Former non-League forward Vardy watches on as his snap-shot is straight at Mignolet, with the Belgian making an easy save 

Former non-League forward Vardy watches on as his snap-shot is straight at Mignolet, with the Belgian making an easy save 

But Vardy made amends for his earlier miss by getting on the end of Albrighton's first-time pass to break the deadlock 

But Vardy made amends for his earlier miss by getting on the end of Albrighton’s first-time pass to break the deadlock 

The Foxes forward keeps his cool to confidently finish past the onrushing Simon Mignolet to break the deadlock

The Foxes forward keeps his cool to confidently finish past the onrushing Simon Mignolet to break the deadlock

Vardy's delight is for all to see after the 30-year-old gave the hosts a deserved lead with his confident 28th minute strike 

Vardy’s delight is for all to see after the 30-year-old gave the hosts a deserved lead with his confident 28th minute strike 

It is hard to believe the coach that masterminded the greatest title-winning season of them all is gone less than a year later, but here we are. There were handmade signs, a hired hearse outside with a blue-and-white floral display reading RIP FOOTBALL, but once the action began Ranieri’s name was not mentioned again.

The locals were too busy cheering on the team who had suddenly reappeared and attempting to ingratiate themselves with caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare. ‘Shakey, give us a wave,’ they sang — and naturally he obliged.

Others had a darker take. ‘Leicester has Shakespeare in charge tonight,’ tweeted Gary Lineker. ‘In the words of his Claudio, “Done to death by slanderous tongues was the hero that here lies”.’

Much Ado About Nothing, act five, scene three, if you’re interested. The fans were not. This was a night to get behind the team, they had decided, as long as the team were worth getting behind.

And it was. The moment Vardy left a mark on Sadio Mane with less than a minute gone, we knew. Liverpool were playing a different team to the one that surrendered so meekly at Swansea.

 Caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare celebrates on the King Power touchline after seeing his side take a deserved lead 

Caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare celebrates on the King Power touchline after seeing his side take a deserved lead 

Schmeichel roars with delight to celebrate Vardy scoring the fallen champions' first Premier League goal of 2017 

Schmeichel roars with delight to celebrate Vardy scoring the fallen champions’ first Premier League goal of 2017 

Drinkwater, the former Manchester United midfielder, made it two league goals this year with this stunning long-range goal 

Drinkwater, the former Manchester United midfielder, made it two league goals this year with this stunning long-range goal 

After Liverpool failed to clear their lines, Drinkwater waits for the ball to drop before firing home a stunning goal 

After Liverpool failed to clear their lines, Drinkwater waits for the ball to drop before firing home a stunning goal 

The 26-year-old midfielder slides on his knees in celebration as Danny Simpson and Riyad Mahrez join in on celebrations 

The 26-year-old midfielder slides on his knees in celebration as Danny Simpson and Riyad Mahrez join in on celebrations 

A general view of Leicester City's second-goal celebrations after Drinkwater doubled their tally against Liverpool 

A general view of Leicester City’s second-goal celebrations after Drinkwater doubled their tally against Liverpool 

So it proved. Liverpool had been on one of those mid-winter warm-weather training trips that worked so well for Stoke at the weekend, but Leicester looked twice as fast. Maybe taking the first six months of the season off is as beneficial as a week in La Manga.

Leicester exposed Liverpool just as they had a year ago. Quick ball in to Vardy, long throws into the box by Fuchs. The first of those after five minutes found Robert Huth, whose header was kept out by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Just two minutes later, a repeat projectile was half-cleared and fired back in by Vardy, the ball bouncing up off the turf and steered on by Shinji Okazaki’s head. Again Mignolet saved.

Huth was causing plenty of problems from set-pieces and in the 15th minute he headed a Marc Albrighton header over. The pressure was building, though, and Lucas Leiva in particular was struggling to cope with Vardy.

After 20 minutes, Schmeichel hit a simple long ball down the middle which Vardy plucked out of the air as if his boots were coated in adhesive. He took it down, took it past Lucas, but failed to get a true connection on his shot, which Mignolet saved. Nathaniel Clyne dived full length to head the loose ball out for a corner.

 Liverpool's charismatic German manager, Klopp, was typically vocal on the King Power Stadium touchline

Liverpool’s charismatic German manager, Klopp, was typically vocal on the King Power Stadium touchline

Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne looks to break free down the right flank but is put under pressure by Albrighton 

Liverpool defender Nathaniel Clyne looks to break free down the right flank but is put under pressure by Albrighton

Foxes captain Wes Morgan, who was exceptional in their title triumph last season, shouts instructions to his club team-mates 

Foxes captain Wes Morgan, who was exceptional in their title triumph last season, shouts instructions to his club team-mates 

Vardy and his Leicester team-mates celebrate their side's third goal, which was scored by the impressive striker 

Vardy and his Leicester team-mates celebrate their side’s third goal, which was scored by the impressive striker 

With Leicester looking to keep a clean sheet against Liverpool, Coutinho pops up with a goal to make it 3-1 at the King Power

With Leicester looking to keep a clean sheet against Liverpool, Coutinho pops up with a goal to make it 3-1 at the King Power

The Brazilian runs back to his half after scoring his side's first goal of the game but it proved too little, too late for the visitors

The Brazilian runs back to his half after scoring his side’s first goal of the game but it proved too little, too late for the visitors

Liverpool could not hold, though, and with 28 minutes gone, Leicester scored their first league goal in nearly 11 hours of football.

A game of head tennis in the centre of the pitch went horribly wrong for Liverpool, Albrighton played the finest of through-passes first time and Vardy was on to it, as he would have been a year ago — if not a month — outstripping Liverpool’s defence and finishing first time past Mignolet at the near post.

The Liverpool goalkeeper was forced to save again from Wilfred Ndidi after 34 minutes, but shortly before half-time, Leicester made it two. Albrighton’s cross was half-cleared by James Milner, falling to Danny Drinkwater, who struck it first time from 25 yards out low into the corner.

The King Power erupted and maybe somewhere in Rome, a very decent man reached for his remote control and, with a little sigh, changed the channel.

A banner showing support for Ranieri, who was sacked by Leicester City last week, is displayed during the match

A banner showing support for Ranieri, who was sacked by Leicester City last week, is displayed during the match

Leicester City supporters with a banner for their former  manager Ranieri before the Premier League match

Leicester City supporters with a banner for their former manager Ranieri before the Premier League match

A fan is pictured wearing a mask of Leicester's former Italian manager following his controversial sacking last week

A fan is pictured wearing a mask of Leicester’s former Italian manager following his controversial sacking last week

Fans walk past a Ranieri banner, which reads 'The Godfather - Part II, prior to kick-off at the King Power Stadium on Monday 

Fans walk past a Ranieri banner, which reads ‘The Godfather – Part II, prior to kick-off at the King Power Stadium on Monday 

SOURCE: dailymail.co.uk

 


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