Sunday 24 June 2018

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Textbook start to Leicester's post-Shakespeare era

Shinji Okazaki netted Leicester's second
Shinji Okazaki netted Leicester's second

Leicester climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone as the post-Craig Shakespeare era began with a 2-1 win at Swansea.

Michael Appleton was in caretaker command after Shakespeare's midweek sacking and Leicester fully merited the three points handed to them by Federico Fernandez's first-half own goal and Shinji Okazaki's fifth of the season just after the interval.

Alfie Mawson reduced the deficit from a 56th-minute corner but Swansea were poor for most of the contest and were indebted to their goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski for keeping them in the contest.

Shakespeare had paid the price for a winless run of six games and just one league victory all season.

But just as they had done following the departure of title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri in February, Leicester responded with a display out of keeping with recent performances.

Leicester showed their intent inside the first minute when Okazaki's glancing header forced a fine reaction stop from Fabianski.

Fabianski soon tipped over Marc Albrighton's rising drive and the Poland goalkeeper was alert to deny Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi as the Foxes dominated both possession and territory.

But Fabianski had no answer after 25 minutes when Leicester profited from Riyad Mahrez switching over to the left flank.

Swansea felt the ball had gone out of play but Mahrez was allowed to continue and whip in a cross which Fernandez headed past the helpless Fabianski.

The hosts had come into the game on the back of a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Huddersfield but there was little intensity and creativity about their play.

Tammy Abraham cut an isolated figure up front after his Huddersfield double, although he did prompt Kasper Schmeichel into a straightforward save from Martin Olsson's cross.

Schmeichel was called upon again when Jordan Ayew's cross deflected off Danny Simpson, but Leicester continued to dominate and Fabianski was needed to hold onto Ndidi's 25-yard effort.

Leicester doubled their lead four minutes into the second period when Swansea again reacted sluggishly to a Foxes' counter-attack.

Albrighton was allowed to run unchallenged down the left and he found the unmarked Mahrez, who stayed onside to set up Okazaki from close range.

Swansea had looked disjointed but they were given a 56th-minute lifeline when Ayew caused confusion at the near post from Renato Sanches' corner.

The ball ran to Mawson and he spun and shot in one movement to find the bottom corner of Schmeichel's net from eight yards.

Swansea finally began to apply some pressure and tested Leicester's resolve with a succession of crosses into the visitors' penalty area.

Fabianski came to Swansea's rescue again to deny Vardy and Mahrez but Leicester leapfrog them in the table with the win

Press Association

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