Leicester secured a vital 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Thursday evening to keep their Champions League dream alive.
The hosts started brightly and poked their noses in front just before the half hour mark. An intelligent pass by debutant Luke Thomas found an unmarked Ayoze Perez, who slotted the ball calmly past Dean Henderson.
The Foxes' ascendency continued after the break with Harvey Barnes spurning a shedload of chances to double their lead, while Jamie Vardy struck the post.
Though United did threaten from set pieces, Leicester put the game beyond all doubt with ten minutes left when substitute Demarai Gray finished well from close range.
Here's 90min's breakdown of the contest...
Key Talking Point
A strong response was essential from Leicester, following their farcical collapse against relegation threatened Bournemouth last time out.
However, the Foxes faithful would have gone into the game with some trepidation due to their lengthy injury list. Stalwarts Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Caglar Soyuncu and Marc Albrighton all missed out, forcing Brendan Rodgers to field a rotated team.
Those fringe players stepped up to the plate with the performance of veteran Wes Morgan - who marshalled the backline well - particularly impressing. 19-year-old Thomas was also brilliant on his debut, providing the assist for Perez's goal.
In terms of personnel tonight, Rodgers doesn't really have much choice – there aren't really any major surprises in there if you think about it (yes, even Thomas) given that *ahem* Ricardo, Chilwell, Soyuncu, Fuchs, Albrighton and Maddison are all crocked/on the naughty step.— Joe Brewin (@JoeBrewinFFT) July 16, 2020
Leicester's victory over the Blades showed they are still able to pull three points out the bag in spite of their weakened squad. This self belief could prove vital as their season reaches a tense climax.
Leicester Player Ratings
Starting XI: Schmeichel (7); Justin (7), Evans (6), Morgan (7), Bennett (7), Thomas (8*); Ndidi (7), Tielemans (8); Perez (8), Vardy (7), Barnes (6).
Substitutes: Gray (8), Choudhury (7).
Woah, what a debut from Luke Thomas. The 19-year-old did not even have a Wikipedia page before the game but he'll surely have one now.
As well as assisting Perez's opener, Thomas was spot on defensively and created a hatful more chances for his teammates. Watch out Ben Chilwell...
Luke Thomas’ first half by numbers vs. Sheffield United:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) July 16, 2020
88% final third passes completed
80% pass accuracy
3 chances created (most)
A fine start to his first-team debut. ?? pic.twitter.com/sTam9NPdTS
Luke Thomas now has as many PL assists as Jari Litmanen & Didier Deschamps— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) July 16, 2020
Key Talking Point
If you were watching Sheffield United for the first time this season on Thursday night, you would have been shocked to learn that they have one of the best defensive records in Europe.
Though they did manage to sporadically stifle Leicester's creativity, on the whole the hosts carved the Blades open with worrying frequency.
Barnes and Vardy had particular joy popping up in the half spaces behind United's two wing-backs who offered very little going forward themselves.
Why couldn't Chelsea of played this Sheffield United?— Conn (@ConnCFC) July 16, 2020
The Blades' success this season has been built on a rock solid foundation of discipline and organisation - traits that were sorely lacking against the Foxes. Their European hopes are now balanced on a knife edge.
Sheffield United Player Ratings
Starting XI: Henderson (8*); Baldock (4), Basham (5), Egan (5), O'Connell (5), Stevens (4); Berge (5), Norwood (5), Osborn (5); McBurnie (5), McGoldrick (5).
Substitutes: Mousset (6), Fleck (5), Lundstrum (5).
Without Dean Henderson's goalkeeping heroics Leicester would have had this game sewn up on the hour mark.
It was another stoic performance by the Manchester United loanee who again strengthened his case to replace Jordan Pickford in the England team.
60' Dean Henderson, sensational ? pic.twitter.com/Dp4r902pjr— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) July 16, 2020
Next up, Leicester face a daunting trip to north London to take on Tottenham as both teams look to keep their European dreams alive. That game takes place on Sunday.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, are next in action against Everton on Monday night.
Source : 90min