Wednesday 25 April 2018

Vardy and Mahrez see off battling Blades

Leicester City 1 Sheff Utd 0

Jamie Vardy scores Leicester’s winner in their victory against Sheffield United. Photo: Reuters
Jamie Vardy scores Leicester’s winner in their victory against Sheffield United. Photo: Reuters

For Riyad Mahrez there was forgiveness, for Leicester City satisfaction and for Jamie Vardy a moment of schoolboy delight as he ended Sheffield United's FA Cup hopes.

Vardy, a boyhood Sheffield Wednesday fan, booked Leicester's place in the quarter-finals with a second-half header that ended the hopes of Wednesday's city rivals.

Leicester's Riyad Mahrez in action with Sheffield United's Danny Lafferty. Photo: Reuters
Leicester's Riyad Mahrez in action with Sheffield United's Danny Lafferty. Photo: Reuters

And Mahrez negotiated a potentially tricky return to the King Power Stadium after his 10-day stand-off with the club with relative ease, receiving widespread cheers and laying on Vardy's goal.

The Algerian, making his first home appearance since skipping training in response to Manchester City's failed transfer bids, received a handful of boos but more cheers.

And his neat footwork, fine cross for Vardy's goal and applause when he was replaced, signalled a general forgiveness for his apparent petulance.

From the start, the pressure on the United goal had been unrelenting yet they might have taken the lead on 32 minutes when a cross from the right ricocheted dangerously around the Leicester penalty area.

Leicester's Danny Simpson looks to block Sheffield United's Enda Stevens. Photo: Reuters
Leicester's Danny Simpson looks to block Sheffield United's Enda Stevens. Photo: Reuters

It dropped for Enda Stevens but shot from the former Shamrock Rovers man was blocked superbly by the sprawling Harry Maguire.

Leicester were soon back in the hunt for the opener with the previously quiet Mahrez showing flickers of his talent. He saw one weaving run come to nothing before producing a superb pass to set Vardy free but the striker's shot was saved by Jamal Blackman.

Mahrez, however, had his moment and his 66th-minute cross beyond the far post allowed Vardy to peel away into space and guide a looping header over Blackman.

Leicester almost doubled their lead when Demarai Gray's clever shot forced Blackman into a good save. But moments later it should have been 1-1 as a cross sat up for George Baldock, whose shot appeared destined for the bottom corner, only for Kasper Schmeichel to pull off a crucial save.

Leicester's Kasper Schmeichel celebrates. Photo: Reuters
Leicester's Kasper Schmeichel celebrates. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City's Wes Morgan tries to intercept Sheffield United's James Wilson. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City's Wes Morgan tries to intercept Sheffield United's James Wilson. Photo: Reuters

Irish Independent

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