It was a dominant display last night at the King Power Stadium as Nigel Pearson and his side secured all three in a 2-1 win over Gary Bowyer’s struggling Blackburn.
The win didn’t come as easy as it perhaps should have however. Leicester shot out of the blocks and controlled possession from kick-off, probing and pressing to no avail, Dyer and Knockaert looked bright from early on in an attacking 4-4-2 that saw David Nugent and Jamie Vardy join each other upfront.
A controversial decision came on the 12th minute when Richie De-Laet advanced down the right flank into the box, drilling a cross only to find the hand of Blackburn defender Tommy Spurr. Referee Simon Hooper waved away the protests of the 18,813 home fans judging it to be accidental.
Admittedly it would have been a harsh decision, even Nigel Pearson said after the game ‘How are you supposed to get out of the way of that, we can’t just appeal for everything’ but this proved not to be the only contentious decision given on the night.
The Leicester players increased the pressure and it felt as if it was only a matter of time before the unrelenting attacking play would pay off for them, and they got their reward.
Anthony Knockaert picked the ball up on the half way line and played a superb cross field pass to Andy King on the left side, King turned inside running sideways into the middle of the pitch five yards outsides of the 16-yard box before playing a beautifully weighted through ball into the penalty area towards Lloyd Dyer who got past Kane just a few yards out from the goal and poked the ball past a helpless Jake Kean in the Lancashire sides goal to put the Foxes 1-0 up on the 16th minute.
Nigel Pearson couldn’t be seen celebrating on the touchline as he chose to follow in Richard Cockerill’s footsteps over at Welford Road and sit up in the Directors seats looking down on the match. The Leicester manager was forced to sit there on Saturday against Wigan after receiving a one-match ban by the FA and presumably liked it so much he decided to stay, when asked about it however all he had to say was ‘Just decided that I’d give it another go, no other reason than that.’
A goal to the good, Leicester looked to double their lead over the course of the first half, looking dangerous in open play and not being posed much threat by their Blackburn counterparts.
Wes Morgan had a good chance on the 25th minute from an in-swinging Knockaert corner, managing to find room beyond the back post but his effort landed tamely into the keeper’s hands.
Grant Hanley’s speculative long range effort late in the first half was Blackburn’s best chance of the half and pretty much summed up how bad the first period had gone for them.
Heading into half-time however things went from bad to worse for Blackburn when Tommy Spurr brought down Richie De-Laet in the box, this time Simon Hooper decided to blow his whistle despite it appearing like he’d got the ball. The dodgy call prompted numerous protests but nothing could overturn the spot-kick and David Nugent confidently stepped up smashing it down the middle for a 2-0 lead at the half.
It was a well deserved two goal advantage after a dominant 45 minutes but arguably Leicester should only have gone in one goal to the good.
The second half started just how the first ended. At a frantic, frenzying pace Blackburn charged into the Leicester box striking a shot that came off of a Foxes player provoking calls for hand-ball only for Leicester to counter and feed Jamie Vardy in for a one on one with Jake Kean, with the whole goal to aim for he only managed to find the goalkeepers leg and the ball went out for a corner.
From the ensuing corner on the 50th minute Knockaert came close to making it 3-0 after Jake Kean misjudged a drilled shot by the Frenchman managing to desperately palm it away.
The barrage on the Blackburn goal continued and Gary Bowyer looked to his substitutes to try and change the course of the game for the side who haven’t managed a win away from home all season.
Chris Taylor and Foxes-old-boy Ben Marshall made way for Corry Evans and Markus Olsson in a move that changed the course of the game.
Just two minutes after the change Danny Drinkwater clearly brought down the replacement Evans in the box, picking up a yellow for the poor challenge. It was only the 3rd penalty Simon Hopper has given since February 2013, two thirds of which came from this game.
Jordan Rhodes put the ball into the keeper’s bottom right sending him the wrong way giving his team a chance to earn a draw with just under 20 minutes left.
Despite the goal Blackburn’s football was still hard to watch, despite some increased possession they lacked the finishing touch and showed no team chemistry, no surprise the team are stuck in the middle of the table.
Controversy marred proceedings once again on the 80th minute when Vardy was denied a stonewall penalty decision being brought down from behind advancing into the box leaving players and fans outraged at the referee and his assistants.
The last 10 minutes managed to pass without incident and other than a Vardy shot that clipped the bar Leicester managed to hang on with ease to a 2-1 lead and go top of the Sky Bet championship (and secure their 3,000th football league point) on goal difference, at least until QPR play on Wednesday night.
Gary Bowyer was left to wonder what could have been if his team has managed to enter the break only a goal down.
“The referee has made a decision that has ultimately changed the course of the game. If we’d of gone in just own behind who knows what could have happened.”
Nigel Pearson was also critical of the officiating but chose to stick with discussing the positives.
“We could’ve had four or five tonight, sometimes games like these can end up in a draw or even a loss despite how well you play so I’m just pleased we got the win going into the Blackpool game.”
The Foxes head to the 4th placed Seasider’s on Saturday looking to continue the great start to the campaign further buoyed by new signing Marcin Wasilewski, the 32 year-old centre back has 60 caps for the Polish national team and has joined the club on a one year contract after only a week’s trial. Here what the manager had to say about the signing.
“There’ll always be room in the squad to experience and talent like this but you have to be careful when signing experienced players that they still have the desire, fitness and ability to hack it at the top level. “
“You only have to be around him for a few minutes to see how committed he is to winning.”
| Leicester City|
Referee: Simon Hooper