Iheanacho’s Wonder Strike Secures Win For Leicester Over Crystal Palace

Iheanacho celebrating his goal against Crystal Palace. Photo: [email protected] City FC.

 

Leicester strengthened their grip on third place in the Premier League as Kelechi Iheanacho’s superb strike capped a spirited fightback in Monday’s 2-1 win against Crystal Palace.

Brendan Rogers’ side trailed to Wilfried Zaha’s first-half goal at the King Power Stadium.

But Timothy Castagne equalised soon after the interval with his first goal since September.

And Nigeria striker Iheanacho sealed Leicester’s second successive victory when he scored with a thunderous finish 10 minutes from full-time.

Leicester are four points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and seven ahead of fifth-placed West Ham as they bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

With five games left, the FA Cup finalists have already matched their total of 62 points from last season.

A late collapse cost the Foxes a place in the Champions League in 2020, but Rodgers’ men are firmly on course to make amends thanks to the sparkling form of Iheanacho.

Going into February, Iheanacho had not scored a single league goal this season, but no one has netted more than his 10 in the competition since then.

 


Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd L) is congratulated by Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 26, 2021. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP

 

The 24-year-old has 12 goals in his last nine games in all competitions.

He is the first Nigerian to reach double figures in Premier League goals in a season since Odion Ighalo’s 15 for Watford in 2015-16.

Leicester set the tempo as Jamie Vardy swivelled to fire just over from 12 yards.

Despite Leicester’s early pressure, Palace snatched the lead with a ruthless counter-attack in the 12th minute.

Christian Benteke robbed Youri Tielemans with a strong challenge on the halfway line and Eberechi Eze strode forward before slipping a defence-splitting pass through to Zaha.

The Ivory Coast forward eluded Leicester’s offside trap and guided a cool finish past Kasper Schmeichel for his 10th goal of the season.

It was a familiar, dispiriting sight for Leicester as Zaha celebrated his sixth goal in his last seven league appearances against the Foxes.

READ ALSO: Iheanacho Strikes For Leicester To Set Up FA Cup Final Showdown With Chelsea

But there was no end to Leicester’s territorial dominance and Jonny Evans nodded down to his fellow centre-back Caglar Soyuncu, who shot wide from a good position.

Leicester deservedly equalised in the 50th minute when Iheanacho superbly controlled Tielemans’ lofted pass inside the Palace area and slipped the ball into Castagne’s path.

The Belgium wing-back wasted no time dispatching a curling strike high into the roof of Vicente Guaita’s net from 10 yards.

Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (C) vies with Crystal Palace’s English defender Scott Dann (L) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 26, 2021. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP

 

Evans stopped Leicester from falling behind again with a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Benteke as he prepared to pull the trigger from Jairo Riedewald’s pass.

Tielemans blasted narrowly wide from the edge of the area and Vardy was inches off target before Leicester completed their stirring fightback in the 80th minute.

Evans’ long pass picked out Iheanacho’s run and the Nigerian held off two Palace defenders inside the area before cutting back inside for a blistering strike that flashed past Guaita.

AFP

Leicester Advance To FA Cup Semis As Iheanacho’s Double Send United Out

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) scores the opening goal of the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Leicester sent Manchester United crashing out of the FA Cup as Kelechi Iheanacho’s double sealed a 3-1 win, while Chelsea will face Manchester City in the semi-finals after beating Sheffield United on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side can look forward to meeting Southampton in their first FA Cup semi-final since 1982 thanks to Iheanacho’s predatory finishing at the King Power Stadium.

He put Leicester ahead in Rodgers’ 100th game in charge before Mason Greenwood equalised late in the first half.

Youri Tielemans restored Leicester’s lead and Nigeria striker Iheanacho wrapped up only their second win over United in 23 years and their first since 2014.

Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup and last reached the final in 1969, will head to Wembley to face Southampton in April.

United’s limp exit ended their run of 29 away games without defeat in all domestic competitions since losing at Liverpool in January 2020.

Without a trophy since the 2017 Europa League, that competition is now their last realistic chance of winning the first silverware of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.

After reaching the Europa League quarter-finals with a win at AC Milan in midweek, Solskjaer made five changes as Paul Pogba returned to the starting line-up following his winner at the San Siro.

 

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L), Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder Fred (C) and Manchester United’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani (R) react after going 3-1 down during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021.
Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Solskjaer this week revealed that Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Alex Telles had played a key role in United’s revival with their upbeat personalities.

But Fred had nothing to smile about as he paid the price for a woeful mistake in the 24th minute.

When Harry Maguire played a risky ball out to Fred on the edge of the United area, the Brazilian’s panicked response was a weak back-pass towards United keeper Dean Henderson.

Iheanacho nipped in to intercept it before rounding Henderson and tapping into the empty net to make it eight goals in his last nine games.

United equalised in the 38th minute when Pogba’s cross was cleverly dummied by Donny van de Beek and Greenwood slammed his shot past Kasper Schmeichel from 12 yards.

Lacklustre United were still out of sorts and Tielemans put Leicester back in front in the 52nd minute.

The Belgian midfielder advanced unchecked as United backed off and he took full advantage with a fine low finish from the edge of the area.

Solskjaer responded with four substitutions including the introduction of Fernandes and Edinson Cavani.

But Iheanacho killed off United in the 78th minute with a clinical header from Marc Albrighton’s free-kick.

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) takes the ball aroud Manchester United’s English goalkeeper Dean Henderson before scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Since his first game in the FA Cup in 2016, Iheanacho has scored 13 times, more than any other player.

– Chelsea set up City clash –
At Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel’s much-changed side were below their best but still earned a potentially thrilling showdown with quadruple chasers Manchester City by beating Sheffield United 2-0.

Oliver Norwood’s 24th-minute own goal, the midfielder turning Ben Chilwell’s shot into the net, put them on course for the last four.

Hakim Ziyech came off the bench to finish Chilwell’s pass in second-half stoppage time.

The Blues are back in the FA Cup semi-finals for a fourth time in the last five seasons after losing last year’s final against Arsenal.

Chelsea won the last of the club’s eight FA Cups under Antonio Conte in 2018.

“We had a good first half where we controlled everything. We lost control in the second half. After 14 consecutive matches I could feel we were tired and we made many little mistakes,” Tuchel said.

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (2nd R) embraces Chelsea’s Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech on the pitch after the English FA Cup quarter final football match between Chelsea and Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge in London on March 21, 2021. Chelsea won the game 2-0.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Tuchel’s early impact since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January has turned Chelsea in a rock-solid defensive unit.

The German is unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions, with Chelsea keeping 12 clean sheets in that period, including shutting out the opposition in their last seven matches.

“I could tell in training we were tired and there was a lack of concentration. That can happen sometimes. It gets harder to keep the level up,” Tuchel said.

AFP