Leicester City 2-0 Sheffield United: Demarai Gray and Ayoze Perez help the foxes find winning ways to keep them on track for the Champions League as they blow Blades’ hopes for European football
- Ayoze Perez struck first after being assisted by debutant Luke Thomas
- Jamie Vardy almost doubled the lead when he hit the woodwork in the second half
- Leicester finally packed their second late when Demarai Gray packed it up
- The pivotal victory maintains Leicester’s hopes of finishing in the top four this season
Brendan Rodgers halted the Leicester meltdown on a day when the city got the green light to get out of its coronavirus lock again.
Ayoze Perez and Demarai Gray scored goals when Rodgers’ team surpassed and defeated Sheffield United to increase their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
It was only their second victory in seven games since the Premier League restart. This miserable form ended in a 4-1 defeat in Bournemouth on Sunday.
Demarai Gray’s goal caused Leicester to turn off Sheffield United to achieve a crucial victory
Manager Brendan Rodgers will be relieved to see his side fight for a top four finish
Rodgers wanted solidity after the second half collapse on the south coast, although he was short of players with Caglar Soyuncu banned, and Ben Chilwell and James Maddison injured.
It marked a wing-back debut for teen Luke Thomas and a return to the heart of the back-three and the first appearance since February for 36-year-old club captain Wes Morgan.
Leicester survived an early shock when James Justin blocked an early goal for David McGoldrick and settled into a steady rhythm, dominating possession and occasionally looking for an opportunity.
Leicester celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half via Ayoze Perez (R)
Attacker Perez embraces teenage debutant Luke Thomas who gave him the assist
Dean Henderson saved with a boot to drive a short drive from Jamie Vardy and another to deny Perez on the outpost.
Nineteen-year-old Thomas performed with confidence. He was composed on the ball that progressed and was aware of his defensive responsibilities. Perhaps this was an indication of the reasons why they would be willing to listen to big money offers for Chilwell, who is admired by Chelsea or Manchester City.
Thomas’ delivery from wide areas was excellent and he delivered the pass for the opening goal, short and square to find Perez who shot it in the bottom corner, his first goal since a pair against West Ham in January.
COMPETITION FACTS AND LOW TABLE
LEICESTER: Schmeichel 6; Bennett 6.5, Morgan 6, Evans 7; Justin 7, Ndidi 7, Tielemens 8, Thomas 7; Perez 6.5 (Choudhury 71, 6), Vardy 7.5, Barnes 6.5 (Gray 76, 7).
SUBS: Ward, Gray, Iheanacho, James, Mendy, Praet, Johnson, Hirst.
GOALS: Perez 29, gray 79
MANAGER: Brendan Rodgers 7
SHEFFIELD UNITED: Henderson 7.5; Basham 6 (Sharp 59, 5), Egan 6, O’Connell 6; Baldock 6, Berge 5 (Lundstram 46, 5), Norwood 6, Osborn 5 (Fleck 46, 5), Stevens 6; McGoldrick 5 (Mousset 46, 5), McBurnie 6.
SUBS: Moore, Zivkovic, Jagielka, K. Freeman, Robinson.
MANAGER: Chris Wilder 6
REF: Michael Oliver 6
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Jamie Vardy hit the woodwork for Leicester in the second half while looking for a different goal
Sheffield United was far from their best and made no attempt at all in a disappointing first half.
Chris Wilder made his feelings clear with three rest changes and the visitors moved the ball with more urgency, but could easily have slipped further when Jamie Vardy was released by Youri Tielemans.
Vardy, the Premier League top scorer, sprinted clear in a left inner channel and shot a shot against the outside of a post. He should have celebrated his 24th Premier League season goal and he knew it.
Demarai Gray ensured Leicester’s victory when he counterattacked late in the game
Henderson made two more saves to frustrate Leicester and keep the Blades in the game, both from Harvey Barnes, both opportunities created by Vardy passes.
Wilder changed tactics and switched to a back-four when he sent Billy Sharp and eventually saw that they were forcing a rescue from Schmeichel.
John Egan climbed high and headed down an angle in Jack O’Connell’s legs and Leicester’s goalkeeper was on the alert to make sure the ricochet didn’t bounce on the goal.
Substitute Gray calmed the nerves with the second goal and defeated Henderson after another quick and penetrating counter-attack and a final pass from Vardy.
Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick appears to be playing a fast pass as Wilfried Ndidi goes hunting
Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel tries to keep the ball out of a corner
The Danish shot stopper jumps high to hit a ball after a dangerous set from Blades
James Justin controls the ball while Sheffield United midfielder Ben Osborn maintains pressure
Vardy had a good chance to score at the King Power Stadium early in the match