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

Iheanacho Nets 11th Goal In Eight Games As Leicester Thrash West Brom

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 22, 2021. Tim Keeton / POOL / AFP

 

Nigerian forward, Kelechi Iheanacho scored as Leicester blitzed West Brom 3-0 on Thursday to strengthen their grip on a Premier League top-four place and snuff out the Baggies’ revival.

Brendan Rodgers’ men were wobbling after losing their previous two top-flight matches but produced a dazzling attacking display against the insipid visitors at the King Power Stadium.

First-half goals from Jamie Vardy, Jonny Evans and Kelechi Iheanacho gave West Brom a mountain to climb and Leicester kept a firm grip on the match after the break.

Third-placed Leicester, whose implosion at the end of last season cost them a Champions League place, now have a valuable four-point lead over Chelsea and West Ham, with just six games to go.

READ ALSO: NFF Assures Super Falcons Coach Of Full Support

James Maddison made his first start since February as the FA Cup finalists took a firm grip of the match and they could easily have scored six goals in a one-sided opening 45 minutes.

Sam Allardyce’s West Brom had beaten Chelsea and Southampton to give them hope of a dramatic escape from the relegation zone but they remain in 19th spot, nine points from safety, and look doomed.

 

Vardy ended his two-month goal drought when he swept in Timothy Castagne’s pass after the pair had broken clear, putting the Foxes in front midway through the first half.

It was Vardy’s first goal in 12 appearances for Leicester in all competitions, ending his longest run without a goal for the club since 2016.

Defender Evans doubled the home side’s lead against his former club in the 26th minute when he headed in Youri Tielemans’ corner.

 


West Bromwich Albion’s English defender Kyle Bartley (C) challenges Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel as he punches the ball clear during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on April 22, 2021. Tim Keeton / POOL / AFP

 

Iheanacho continued his fine form, making it 3-0 when he collected Vardy’s pass and fired past Sam Johnstone.

It could have been even worse for the Baggies. A heavy touch from Iheanacho cost him when he was through one on one with Johnstone and he later fired over from close range while Castagne hit a post.

Leicester maintained their grip on the game in the second half but lacked their earlier sharpness in attacking areas.

West Brom were a sporadic threat as the game wore on but never seriously threatened a comeback as Leicester celebrated a vital three points.

AFP

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

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd R) prepares to score the opening goal of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Leicester City and Southampton at Wembley Stadium in north west London on April 18, 2021. Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP

 

Leicester reached the FA Cup final for the first time in 52 years as Kelechi Iheanacho’s solitary goal earned a 1-0 win over Southampton in front of 4,000 fans at Wembley on Sunday.

The biggest crowd for a football match in England for 13 months was made up of key workers and local residents as part of a test event for the return of fans in bigger numbers in the coming weeks.

An 8,000 crowd will be in attendance at Wembley next Sunday for the League Cup final between Manchester City and Tottenham, while 21,000 will welcome Leicester back to the home of English football for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 15.

There was little for the neutrals to get excited about on the field, though, as Leicester struggled to put away an out-of-sorts Southampton, who had been relying on Cup glory to save their season.

READ ALSO: Greenwood Bags Brace As Man Utd Sink Burnley, Fulham Frustrated By Arsenal

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have won just two of their last 14 Premier League games since the sides last met in January.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers welcomed back Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury to his squad after the trio were dropped for last weekend’s 3-2 defeat at West Ham for breaking coronavirus rules to attend a house party.

But Maddison had to wait for his chance to impress England manager Gareth Southgate as a second-half substitute.

 

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Leicester City and Southampton at Wembley Stadium in north west London on April 18, 2021. NEIL HALL / POOL / AFP

 

Leicester were the better side throughout but failed to test Fraser Forster before half-time as Jamie Vardy fired over from a narrow-angle before Wilfred Ndidi’s header dropped onto the roof of the net.

The breakthrough came 10 minutes into the second half as Vardy’s pace left Jan Bednarek trailing in this wake.

From his cross, Iheanacho fluffed his first effort, but the ball broke kindly back to the Nigerian to slot home his 12th goal in as many games.

Maddison twice was inches away from wrapping up the tie with powerful shots that flashed just off target.

But Southampton never looked like getting back on level terms as the Foxes comfortably held out for a shot at winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

AFP

Many Were Quick To Write Iheanacho Off – Ndidi

Iheanacho netted five times in three EPL games. Photo: AFP

 

Leicester City midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi has hailed his compatriot, Kelechi Iheanacho’s resurgence, but said the former Manchester City man was unfairly criticised after previously finding himself on the fringes for the Foxes. 

The former U-17 World Cup winner was snubbed by Nigerian coach, Gernot Rohr for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where the Super Eagles won bronze.

A recent turn of fortune has, however, seen the 24-year-old winning the Premier League Player of the Month award for March 2021. He scored seven goals in four matches for Brendan Rogers’ side during that period but Ndidi says he is not surprised by Iheanacho’s current exploits.

“I am very happy for him because he’s doing wonderfully well now and everyone can see,” the former Genk man told BBC Sport Africa. “It’s just sad that when he needed encouragement in the past few years many were quick to write him off, but thankfully some of these people have now turned around to praise him. That’s life.”

Following his revival at the King Power Stadium which included a brace to send Manchester United out of the FA Cup, Iheanacho was handed a starting role for Nigeria’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against the Benin Republic and Lesotho.

READ ALSO: Iheanacho Beats Harry Kane, Others To EPL Player Of The Month Award

“I know and hope that he will continue to deliver for us,” Ndidi added. “I never doubted him and I know he will bring more goals and performance that will continue to elevate him.”

Iheanacho’s spectacular form saw him signing a new contract with Leicester that will keep him at the Premier League club until 2024.

Lesotho’s captain (2nd L) Lerotholi Nkau vies fro the ball with Nigerian attacker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd R) during the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match between Nigeria and Lesotho at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on March 30, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

 

Since joining the East Midlands side from Manchester City in 2017, the Nigerian striker has played 118 matches with 32 goals and 17 assists to his name.

He made his international debut for the Super Eagles against Swaziland in November 2015 and has scored nine times in 30 matches for the three-time African champions. 

Iheanacho Beats Harry Kane, Others To EPL Player Of The Month Award

Iheanacho netted five times in three EPL games in March. Photo: Leicester City.

 

Nigerian forward, Kelechi Iheanacho has won the English Premier League (EPL) Player of the Month award for March 2021, beating the likes of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City and others. 

The Super Eagles star was in brilliant form for Brendan Rogders’ Leicester City during the period under review. He scored five times in three league appearances as the Foxes pushed to cement a European place.

“I’m so pleased and honoured to win this award. It’s great to be recognised, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team-mates and the manager,” he told the club’s website. “I’m really enjoying playing at the minute and hopefully, I can push on and help the team to finish as high as possible this season.”

During the month, he scored seven goals in four games across all competitions for the 2015/2016 Premier League champions. His volley against Burnley is also in contention for Leicester City’s Goal of the Month prize.

Other players who were nominated for the prize included Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Christensen, Leandro Trossard and Illan Meslier

The 2013 U-17 World Cup winner becomes only the fourth Nigerian to win the award. Odion Ighalo, Peter Odemwingie and Jay-Jay Okocha were the other players from the West African country to have achieved the feat during their spells in England.

READ ALSO: Top Seeds Medvedev, Osaka Crash Out Of Miami Open

Iheanacho is also the first Leicester City star to claim the prize since Jamie Vardy won it in October 2019 and the first time the 24-year-old will clinch an individual honour in the Premier League since making his debut against Watford in August 2015.

Having scored six goals in 16 league games, the Nigerian is expected to continue his fine form for the East Midlands’ team as they welcome table-topping Manchester City to the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

As a reward for maintaining his unbeaten streak, Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel was named as the Premier League Manager of the Month.

The German managed Chelsea to two wins, a draw and three clean sheets in three matches in March.

Erik Lamela’s Rabona against Arsenal also earned the Tottenham player the Goal of the Month award.

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

Iheanacho Scores Hattrick In Leicester City’s Demolition Of Sheffield

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) runs to celebrate scoring the opening goal past Sheffield United’s English goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 14, 2021. MOLLY DARLINGTON / POOL / AFP

 

Nigerian forward, Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hattrick on Sunday as Leicester City demolished Sheffield United, advancing the Foxes’ quest for a top-four Premier League finish.

 

Leicester showed no mercy to bottom-of-the-table United in the visitors’ first match since Chris Wilder’s departure on Saturday.

Wilder, who led United from third-tier League One to the Premier League, left by mutual consent after several days of speculation about his future.

United, managed by interim boss Paul Heckingbottom, look destined for relegation after failing to build on last season’s impressive first campaign back in the top flight.

The Blades, 14 points from safety with only nine games left, have lost six of their last seven league games.

Leicester pushed them closer to the Championship with their biggest win this season.

Nigerian striker Iheanacho opened the floodgates in the 38th minute at the King Power Stadium with a close-range finish from Jamie Vardy’s pass after a flowing move.

Iheanacho’s third goal in his last three games was followed by Ayoze Perez’s fine strike from the edge of the area in the 64th minute.

Iheanacho scored again in the 69th minute from Vardy’s cross and completed his treble with a 25-yard blast past Aaron Ramsdale.

Ethan Ampadu’s own goal from Vardy’s effort in the 80th minute sealed the rout for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who moved above Manchester United and within 15 points of runaway leaders Manchester City.

– Spurs face Arsenal test –
Brighton edged three points clear of third-bottom Fulham with a game in hand after a frenetic south-coast derby at St Mary’s, winning 2-1.

It was a first win in eight games in all competitions for Graham Potter’s side since they beat Tottenham in January.

The Seagulls are one point above fourth-bottom Newcastle, who travel to Brighton for a crucial clash in the relegation battle next weekend.

Brighton took the lead through Lewis Dunk in the 16th minute.

Fraser Forster made a fine save to keep out Neal Maupay’s shot but Dunk’s towering header from the resulting corner flashed past the Saints keeper.

Southampton drew level in the 27th minute when Dunk could only help Ryan Bertrand’s header into the path of Che Adams, who volleyed home at the far post.

But Brighton went back in front in the 56th minute as Leandro Trossard produced a fine finish from Danny Welbeck’s lay-off.

Later on Sunday, Tottenham, unbeaten in the last five north London derbies dating back to 2018, will aim to bolster their top-four bid by recording a third successive victory against bitter rivals Arsenal.

Jose Mourinho’s side have won their last five games in all competitions and can close to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand if they win at the Emirates stadium.

West Ham are also in the race to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish.

David Moyes’ side can move level on points with Chelsea with a game in hand if they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Hammers have won eight of their last 11 league matches, while United need the points to cement their own top-four ambitions.

United dropped to third after Leicester’s victory, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men would go back above them with three points against West Ham.

Former United boss Moyes, sacked by the Old Trafford outfit in 2014 after less than a season in charge, will be returning to his old club for the second time this term following their FA Cup defeat last month.

AFP