Tuesday 20 March 2018

Slimani makes instant impact for Leicester

Leicester 3 Burnley 0

Slimani celebrates scoring his side's first goal. Photo: Getty
Slimani celebrates scoring his side's first goal. Photo: Getty

Steve Madeley

Leicester's record signing Islam Slimani announced his arrival in the Premier League with two goals to give the champions victory in his domestic debut.

The £30m signing from Sporting Lisbon netted trademark headers either side of half-time as the Foxes ended a dream week in emphatic fashion. Fresh from a 3-0 win on their Champions League debut at Club Brugge on Wednesday, Claudio Ranieri's side repeated the scoreline against Sean Dyche's Clarets.

Slimani's powerful header past Heaton. Photo: Getty
Slimani's powerful header past Heaton. Photo: Getty

And their supporters have a new favourite in Algeria international Slimani, who now has nine headed goals in domestic league action in 2016, having scored seven for Sporting as he became one of Europe's most sought-after forwards.

Ben Mee completed Burnley's miserable afternoon with a late own-goal as the Champions clicked into gear. Slimani might have made a dream start to his Premier League debut when he found himself in possession on the edge of the area with room to work in but opted to feed the overlapping Marc Albrighton, who sent a tame shot at Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal.

The visitors then enjoyed a good spell with George Boyd sending a dangerous cross just past the far post of Ron-Robert Zieler, who was starting in goal for Leicester in the absence of the injured Kasper Schmeichel.

But the hosts were soon back on the attack, with a delicate cross by Christian Fuchs finding the head of Jamie Vardy, who glanced an effort just wide.

Slimani is congratulated by his teammates.
Slimani is congratulated by his teammates.

The game then settled into a cagey pattern with both sides wasteful in possession until Riyad Mahrez enlivened proceedings with a stylish near-miss. The Algerian picked up possession on halfway and drove into the area, displaying clever footwork to evade two solid Burnley challenges before his low shot from a tight angle was kept out by the legs of Heaton.

With half-time approaching, both sides missed glorious chances to break the deadlock. The first opportunity fell to the visitors when Scott Arfield sent a Boyd cross back into the centre of goal, only for Steven Defour to head straight at Zieler.

Then Fuchs delivered another excellent cross at the other end but Mahrez made too heavy a contact with an attempted glancing header and sent it wide of the near post.

Slimani had another shooting chance after being teed up by Vardy, but this time the big-money striker was denied comfortably by Heaton. The Algerian then failed narrowly to make connection with an Albrighton cross, but he made no mistake as he opened the scoring in first-half stoppage-time, rising superbly in a crowded area to meet a Fuchs free-kick with a powerful header past Heaton.

And just three minutes into the second half Slimani netted his and Leicester's second with a much more straightforward header. Mahrez found room on the right to deliver a cross, which flicked off the heels of Mee and Vardy before sitting up for Slimani to head home.

Vardy then attempted to tee up Slimani's hat-trick but his cross from the left was over-hit, and Albrighton then sent a long-range effort too close to Heaton.

Two more Leicester chances arrived when Burnley failed to clear effectively from corners. A long-range Mahrez effort dipped just over the bar and Heaton then saved a powerful drive by Fuchs.

The third Leicester goal arrived with 12 minutes remaining when Mahrez found more room on the right and his cross towards Vardy was turned into his own net at the near post by Mee.

Zieler then marked his full debut with a fine save to keep out a deflected free-kick from substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson.


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