Friday 9 December 2016

Jack Grealish on the mark but Villains left shell-shocked by Leicester comeback

Sean Taylor

Published 13/09/2015 | 18:54

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring their second goal
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring their second goal
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish celebrates scoring their first goal

Nathan Dyer's brave late header completed a remarkable comeback by Leicester as they climbed to second place in the Barclays Premier League table with a 3-2 home win against Aston Villa.

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The Foxes looked like losing their unbeaten start to the season after a couple of wonderful curling efforts from Jack Grealish, his first goal for Villa, and Carles Gil put the visitors in the driving seat.

But goals from Ritchie De Laet, whose effort was given with the aid of goal-line technology, Jamie Vardy and substitute Dyer, making his debut following his loan arrival from Swansea during the international break, saw Claudio Ranieri's men snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Winger Dyer remained on the floor for a couple of minutes after clattering into goalkeeper Brad Guzan when heading the 89th-minute clincher, but eventually got to his feet to take the acclaim.

There was a let-off for Leicester early on when Gil sent Gabriel Agbonlahor racing clear and his low cross to the far post was just beyond the reach of Scott Sinclair, who at full stretch poked the ball wide.

The Foxes also had an early chance when Wes Morgan shrugged off Jordan Amavi to meet Marc Albrighton's cross but powered his header over the crossbar.

Grealish spurned a terrific chance to give Villa the lead in the 24th minute when he steered his shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel. But when presented with a similar opportunity just before half-time, the youngster did not make the same error.

Leicester struggled to clear a corner and the ball bobbled around a crowded penalty area before breaking to the edge of the box where Grealish curled home a lovely right-footed shot beyond a possibly unsighted Schmeichel.

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish celebrates scoring their first goal
Aston Villa's Jack Grealish celebrates scoring their first goal

The sheer joy on Grealish's face was there for all to see as he ran towards his manager Tim Sherwood. He had longed for that first goal for the club since he was a child playing football round the back of the Aston Social Club in the shadow of Villa Park.

Leicester emerged for the second half full of vigour. Jeff Schlupp burst into the box and cut the ball back for Vardy whose instinctive back-heel flick rolled narrowly wide.

Vardy then raced clear into the area but Micah Richards remained with him and got a crucial block on the striker's shot.

It was somewhat against the run of play when Villa extended their lead in the 63rd minute. Agbonlahor broke free down the left and played a square pass to Gil who guided a lovely curling shot around defender Robert Huth and back into the top corner of the net from 22 yards.

Midway through the second half Leicester had a big shout for a penalty turned down by referee Mike Dean when Vardy's burst into the box was halted by Leandro Bacuna.

Shortly afterwards De Laet halved Leicester's deficit. His near-post flick from Riyad Mahrez's corner looked like it might have been headed safely off the line by Ashley Westwood but goal-line technology alerted Dean that the ball had crossed.

Vardy then sent a shot into the side-netting as Leicester sensed they could still get something from the game.

They were right - they could. Mahrez's mazy run forward set up Danny Drinkwater and his low cross was poked home by Vardy with eight minutes still to play.

The pressure on Villa was relentless and Dyer, on at half-time for Shinji Okazaki, immediately endeared himself to Foxes fans when he bravely got between two Villa defenders to head home before running into Guzan.

Mahrez almost added some gloss to the scoreline, which would have been harsh on Villa, with a curling effort which flew narrowly wide.

TWEET OF THE MATCH:

"What a team. What a display. What a fightback. #COYF" - former Leicester striker Gary Lineker seemed to be pleased after the 3-2 win.

https://twitter.com/GaryLineker/status/643106014745763841

PLAYER RATINGS

Leicester

Kasper Schmeichel: 6/10

Ritchie De Laet: 7

Robert Huth: 6

Wes Morgan: 6

Jeff Schlupp: 6

Marc Albrighton: 6

Danny Drinkwater: 7

Gokhan Inler: 6

Riyad Mahrez: 8

Shinji Okazaki: 5

Jamie Vardy: 7

Subs

Nathan Dyer: 7

Leonardo Ulloa: 5

Ngolo Kante: 7

Aston Villa

Bradley Guzan: 6

Leandro Bacuna: 6

Micah Richards: 7

Joleon Lescott: 6

Jordan Amavi: 5

Carlos Sanchez: 5

Ashley Westwood: 6

Carles Gil: 7

Jack Grealish: 7

Scott Sinclair: 6

Gabriel Agbonlahor: 6

Subs

Jordan Ayew: 4

Rudy Gestede: 4

Alan Hutton: 3

STAR PLAYER

Riyad Mahrez. He was a constant thorn in Villa's side all afternoon with his pace, quick feet and trickery and was pivotal in dragging Leicester back from the brink. The Algeria international has been a joy to watch so far this season.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Jack Grealish's goal. What a moment for the young man. Took the chance with the composure of a seasoned pro - just three days after his 20th birthday. Perfect placement, textbook technique and sufficient power and fade. Shame for him that in the end it was not worth any points.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Gabriel Agbonlahor's inclusion was a bit of a surprise but presumably Tim Sherwood wanted to use his pace against Robert Huth and Wes Morgan. Behind him, Villa's attacking trio of Scott Sinclair, Grealish and Carles Gil rotated well and caused Leicester problems.

However, Claudio Ranieri replaced Shinji Okazaki with debutant Nathan Dyer at half-time, moving Mahrez into a more central position, and the Algerian was instrumental in the hosts rescuing their unbeaten start to the season.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

Mahrez again. The only blot on the 24-year-old's copybook when in the 82nd minute he appeared to roll on the floor in an attempt to get Jordan Amavi a second yellow card.

Leicester manager Ranieri hailed the spirit of his side after the remarkable comeback.

"It's fantastic. Fantastic spirit and good character," the Italian told Sky Sports 1. "After 2-0 I watched my players but they believed that anything was possible and that's the spirit I love. You can lose but it's important to fight until the end of the match.

"This victory is very important to restart well and get three points. It's fantastic."

The former Greece, Roma and Inter manager added: "I have a lot of experience but this group is fantastic. We must play every match in this way."

In contrast, Villa boss Sherwood cut a frustrated figure after seeing a two-goal lead overturned late in the game.

"(The) first goal gives them them the momentum and unfortunately we couldn't wrestle it back from them," he said.

"The only way you wrestle momentum from a team is to keep the ball off them and we kept giving it back to them.

"They had to change because we were outplaying them so we give them credit for making the change and the game was gone, it was finished with 30 minutes to go and 2-0 up.

"At this level the game should have been dead and buried but unfortunately we made unforced errors and it cost us the game."

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