Saturday 22 September 2018

Manager-less Foxes find their old fluency to sink Swans

Swansea City 1 Leicester City 2

Leicester City's Christian Fuchs clashes with Swansea's Luciano Narsingh Photo: Getty
Leicester City's Christian Fuchs clashes with Swansea's Luciano Narsingh Photo: Getty

Stuart James

For the second time this year the Leicester City players responded to the news that their manager had been sacked by picking up three points and producing the sort of performance that suggests there is not much that needs fine-tuning whenever Craig Shakespeare's successor takes over.

Who that will be remains to be seen but this was a display to give plenty of encouragement to anyone mulling over whether to take the plunge.

Alfie Mawson scores for Swansea Photo: Getty
Alfie Mawson scores for Swansea Photo: Getty

Shinji Okazaki justified his return to the side with his fifth goal of the season but it was Riyad Mahrez, whose form has been so indifferent ever since Leicester won the Premier League title, who was the stand-out performer. It was Mahrez's cross that Federico Fernandez headed into his own net to give Leicester a fully deserved lead and the winger also set up the second for Okazaki with a lovely cushioned pass.

Although Alfie Mawson pulled a goal back for Swansea moments later, Leicester never really looked in danger of conceding again and the truth is that the scoreline flattered Paul Clement's side. Lukasz Fabianski was outstanding in goal and on another day Leicester could easily have been out of sight by half-time. That says much about the way Leicester's players set about their task under Michael Appleton, the caretaker manager, on a day when they registered only their second league win of the season.

Bright and positive from the outset, the visitors created four decent chances before they took the lead, with only some superb goalkeeping from Fabianski delaying what felt like the inevitable. Leicester were opening Swansea up with embarrassing ease.

The alarm bells should have been ringing for Swansea but nothing changed as Leicester, with Vicente Iborra impressing in central midfield, continued to dominate.

Shinji Okazaki scores the 2nd Leicester goal past Swansea goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski Photo: Getty
Shinji Okazaki scores the 2nd Leicester goal past Swansea goalkeeper Lucasz Fabianski Photo: Getty

The first goal came after Mahrez scampered into space that opened up behind the Swansea defence, with the Algerian appearing to have just about kept the ball in play as it ran towards the bye-line. Kyle Naughton backed off and gave Mahrez too much space to deliver a left-footed cross that Fernandez, at full stretch, nodded past Fabianski with a diving header.

Clement replaced Leon Britton with Ki Sung-yueng at the interval but within four minutes Swansea had conceded a second. It was a brilliant counter-attacking goal from Leicester's point of view, although Swansea gave them a helping hand with some woeful defending and the awful Tom Carroll free-kick that encouraged Appleton's side to break.

What followed was reminiscent of the Leicester of two seasons ago as they turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye. Marc Albrighton, wide on the left, picked out the unmarked Mahrez - Martin Olsson, the Swansea left-back, decided to try and play offside rather than staying with his man - and it was a perfectly-weighted pass from the winger that Okazaki swept past Fabianski.

Swansea had created next to nothing but they hauled themselves back into the game seven minutes later when Mawson, turning sharply in the Leicester area, beat Kasper Schmeichel with a low shot from Renato Sanches's corner. Briefly, Swansea started to play on the front foot, yet there was nothing menacing about their approach and it was Leicester who should have scored again.

Mahrez once again was the creator, his clever pass releasing Jamie Vardy in the inside left channel and one-on-one with Fabianski. Vardy must have thought he had scored when he steered the ball just to Fabianski's left but the Swansea 'keeper produced another excellent save.

Swansea huffed and puffed at the other end but never really looked like scoring an equaliser.

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