Nigeria striker Kelechi Iheanacho was voted Premier League’s ‘Man of the Match’ as Leicester City battled to a 2-1 win against Wolves on Saturday.
An Iheanacho penalty and Timothy Castagne’s crisp finish to a flowing move overturned Matheus Cunha’s opener to seal all three points for the Foxes in Dean Smith’s home debut as the Club’s new Manager.
Ahead of a huge run-in of fixtures, City finally have optimism for the challenges to come.
They had lost eight in nine games before this outing, but Smith’s appointment has created a swell of positivity around the Football Club.
That elusive ingredient – hope – is back on Filbert Way. Ahead of his 600th match in a dugout, Smith named a bold XI – with room for forwards Iheanacho, Tetê, Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy in a 4-2-3-1 system.
Less than three minutes in, the Wolves were cut open. Iheanacho slid the ball through to Vardy. City’s No.9 – on his 301st Premier League appearance – squared it to Tetê. The Brazilian, however, found Toti in his way.
Julen Lopetegui has inspired a revival of sorts in the West Midlands. Wins over Chelsea and Brentford have propelled Wanderers up the table. A reminder of their threat came from an unlikely source minutes later when Craig Dawson blazed over from the outskirts of City’s box. Pablo Sarabia drilled wide for the visitors too. Errors have cost Leicester dearly this season and another one haunted them on 13 minutes.
Youri Tielemans was dispossessed in the final third by Mario Lemina, who fed Cunha for a simple finish into Daniel Iversen’s bottom-right corner.
A last-ditch action was required, first from Çağlar Söyüncü and then Faes again to stop powerful hits from Sarabia and Dawson. That early attacking intent had been replaced by a desperate need to keep Wolves at bay.
From nowhere, however, the tide turned. Leicester broke at speed, with Iheanacho threading the ball through to Vardy. The iconic No.9 galloped through and tried to take it around Jose Sá, the Wolves’ goalkeeper, inside the area.
Sá clipped Vardy’s ankle though, and referee Andrew Madley had no choice but to point to the penalty spot. With Vardy still receiving treatment off the pitch, it was Iheanacho to step up and he stroked it beyond Sá.
With seconds to spare before the break, there was one final, agonising chance. Iheanacho’s fine curler, from the angle of the Wolves box, was palmed by Sá into Daka’s path. The Zambian couldn’t beat the shot-stopper from point-blank range, though.
Moments later, Daka’s drilled effort bounced up off Sá’s legs and into Dewsbury-Hall, who knocked it over the crossbar.
Second-half Wolves substitute Rúben Neves nearly punished the hosts, whipping a free-kick narrowly over on the hour. The Foxes were playing some of the best football they have in a long time and Söyüncü was desperately unlucky when he cannoned the ball straight at Sá from a Tetê corner.
Leicester’s goal, in the 75th minute, was brilliant and deserved. Silky football down the left channel started with Boubakary Soumaré’s excellent forward ball and ended with Kristiansen’s laser-beam pass being rattled into the far corner by Castagne.
With the win, Leicester climbed above the dotted line, into 17th. They are on 28 points, ahead of Everton on goal difference.
The Foxes will next meet 16th-placed Leeds United at Elland Road on Tuesday, followed by 18th-placed Everton a week on Monday.