Maddison Lifts Leicester As Forest Hit Rock Bottom

James Maddison’s performance helped eased the pressure on Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. [email protected]

 

James Maddison eased the pressure on Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers and pushed Nottingham Forest to the bottom of the Premier League as the midfielder’s double inspired a vital 4-0 win on Monday.

Rodgers’ side blew Forest away with three goals in the space of 10 minutes in the first half at the King Power Stadium.

Maddison struck either side of a superb finish from Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka netted in the second half as Leicester won for the first time this season at the eighth attempt.

Leicester had lost their previous six games to leave Rodgers fighting to avoid the sack following his criticism of the club’s Thai owners for failing to back him in the transfer window.

Beating their East Midlands rivals should give Rodgers at least a little breathing space, with Leicester moving one place above rock-bottom Forest on goal difference.

Woeful Forest are now without a win in six games, losing five in a row and conceding 16 goals in their last four matches.

That dismal run has turned up the heat on Steve Cooper, who took charge when Forest were bottom of the Championship last season and led them back to the Premier League for the first time since 1999.

It would be incredibly harsh on Cooper to sack him so soon after winning promotion, but Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis would have hoped for better results after sanctioning a hefty investment in 21 new players in the close-season.

Ahead of what he described as a “season-changing” fixture, Rodgers insisted he was the “best person” to save Leicester from relegation.

Rodgers’ players responded to his rallying cry with their best performance for months.

Maddison was the catalyst right from the start as he teased the Forest defence before delivering a precise cross that Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall headed wide.

Dewsbury-Hall flashed a powerful strike just wide moments later before Jamie Vardy headed wide from Maddison’s free-kick.

Forest should have taken advantage of those misses when Taiwo Awoniyi hit the post after racing onto Morgan Gibbs-White’s defence-splitting pass.

READ ALSOAs He Plots Liverpool Revival, Klopp Says Even Ronaldo Has Confidence Dips

Bickering Forest

That proved the decisive moment as Leicester seized control with two goals in quick succession.

There was more than a slice of luck about Maddison’s 25th-minute opener as he pounced on Jesse Lingard’s awful clearance for a 20-yard strike that took a wicked deflection off Scott McKenna as it looped past Dean Henderson.

If that was fortuitous, there was no denying the excellence of Barnes’ effort in the 27th minute.

Picked out by Vardy’s pass, Barnes took aim from the edge of the area and curled a superb effort into the far corner as Rodgers raised his arms in jubilation.

With several players bickering among themselves, Forest were in disarray.

Maddison was giving England manager Gareth Southgate a reminder of his quality ahead of the World Cup after being left out of the recent Nations League squad.

He delivered the knockout blow to Forest in the 35th minute with a fine free-kick that whistled past Henderson from 25 yards.

In the directors’ box, Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha wore a broad grin that suggested Rodgers had earned a few days of respite.

But down the touchline, Cooper hung his head in despair as Leicester fans chanted “you’re getting sacked in the morning”.

Forest’s ineptitude was summed up by Awoniyi and Brennan Johnson as they bungled a chance to give Forest a lifeline soon after the interval.

Maddison was still tormenting them and his low cross was perfectly placed for Daka to flick an audacious backheeled finish past Henderson in the 73rd minute.

AFP

Super Eagles’ Goal Is To Win Next AFCON, Says Peseiro

Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro. [email protected]

 

Super Eagles Head Coach Jose Peseiro has set his sights on winning next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). 

Nigeria last won the competition in 2013 and were one of the favourites heading into the 2021 tournament but surprisingly capitulated to Tunisia in the round of 16. The three-time continental champions also lost the 2022 World Cup ticket to rivals Ghana.

But Peseiro, who took over after the twin disappointments, is optimistic about Nigeria clinching the next edition of the championship.

“Algeria is a good team. Of course, our goal is to win the next AFCON, but for that, we need to create the habit to win, it’s the main point,” the coach said ahead of the friendly tie with the 2019 champions.

“You introduce some younger players, introduce the tactical works, introduce the situation and dynamics, but at the same time, you want to win; you must create the habit to win. Every time, we want to win, to become the best national team in Africa, we must create that habit, and we want to win.”

READ ALSO: Celtics Suspend Coach Ime Udoka For Entire NBA Season

Precautionary Move

The Portuguese also spoke about the injury to Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi who left the team’s camp on Thursday.

He said: “I think I have a better relationship with our older players and Ndidi, when he came, the fitness coach from Leicester City sent for our fitness coach because we have that connection with them saying that he (Ndid) complained in the last match.

“He (Ndidi) did training, small training because of the condition of the hamstring. I was around yesterday and I said I think it’s better we don’t use them because I don’t want to use an injured player in a friendly match because he can get more injured.”

Ndidi last featured for Nigeria in the AFCON tie against Tunisia. He missed out on the double-legged World Cup playoff with the Black Stars of Ghana.

Nigeria’s game against Algeria will hold on Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 in Oran, Algeria. The time for the match is 8:00 pm (WAT).

African Players In Europe: Iheanacho, Awoniyi Score After Nigeria’s W/Cup Let-Down

Leicester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho shoots the ball but misses to score during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 2, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho shoots the ball but misses to score during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on April 2, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho was one of the African scorers in the most-watched domestic league in the world, nodding Leicester City ahead in a 1-1 draw at Manchester United.

The former Manchester City forward did not play in the second leg of a 2022 World Cup play-off as Nigeria lost the ticket to Ghana on the away goal rule just a few days ago.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European leagues:

ENGLAND YOANE WISSA (Brentford)

Wissa scored 120 seconds after his 85th-minute introduction at Stamford Bridge with a clinical close-range finish. His eighth club goal this season was the climax to Brentford’s first win over their west London neighbours since 1939.

READ ALSO: Manchester United Need 18 Months To Improve, Says Rangnick

KELECHI IHEANACHO (Leicester)

He bagged his seventh goal this season to open the scoring in the draw against United at Old Trafford. Iheanacho netted in the 63rd minute, meeting James Maddison’s cross with a stooping header that United goalkeeper David De Gea was unable to stop despite getting a hand on it.

SPAIN PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Barcelona)

The Gabon captain helped Barcelona to another impressive win, over Sevilla in La Liga. The striker came close to opening the scoring for Barca in the first half, but his angled shot was clawed away by Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou. Pedri’s brilliant finish from the edge of the area delivered a 1-0 victory at Camp Nou that sent Barcelona above Sevilla into second in the table for the first time this season.

ITALY KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

Koulibaly was once again key as Napoli continued their chase for a first league title in over three decades with a 3-1 win at Atalanta. Not only did the Senegal captain help Luciano Spalletti’s side hold off Atalanta’s push for an equaliser, he also launched the counter-attack which ended with Eljif Elmas sliding home the third with 10 minutes remaining.

EMMANUEL GYASI (Spezia)

Ghana forward Gyasi boosted Spezia’s chances of staying in Serie A with his last-gasp winner against Venezia. The 28-year-old bundled home in the fourth minute of added time after Niki Maenpaa pushed away Rey Manaj’s shot to lift Spezia to 14th on 32 points, 10 clear of the relegation zone.

GERMANY TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

Awoniyi celebrates with his teammates. [email protected]_en

 

The Nigeria striker bagged his 17th Bundesliga goal for Union, becoming their top scorer in Germany’s top flight, as his second-half strike sealed a 1-0 win over Cologne. When Jonas Hector was pressured into a mistake, the Cologne skipper played a back-pass to Awoniyi who knocked the ball past the advancing goalkeeper. Union remain in the hunt for a Champions League place next season.

FRANCE ANDY DELORT (Nice)

The Algerian forward hit double digits for the season with his 10th goal in a 1-1 draw at home to fellow Champions League hopefuls Rennes. Delort headed in a cross from international team-mate Youcef Atal to give Nice the lead midway through the second half, but the hosts failed to hold on and have slipped to fifth after winning just once in five outings.

AFP

VIDEO: John Noble, Lookman Arrive Nigeria As Eagles Roster Swells To 25

A photo combination of Noble Igwe and Ademola Lookman.

 

Enyimba goalkeeper, John Noble, has arrived at the Super Eagles camp ahead of the 2022 World Cup playoff with Ghana. His arrival came hours after new boy, Ademola Lookman, landed in Nigeria, two days before the crunch tie.

The team confirmed their arrival in separate tweets on Wednesday. Noble was called up as a replacement for Maduka Okoye who will miss the double-header due to illness.

Lookman on the hand was the last foreign-based player to arrive in camp.

“Hi, guys! This is Ademola Lookman here. I just arrived at the camp and I am happy to be here. Naija, mo tide (Nigeria, I have arrived),” the Leicester City winger said in a video post on the Super Eagles handle.

READ ALSO: [Qatar 2022 Playoff] Osimhen In Camp As Super Eagles Begin Training For Ghana Clash

 

‘The Boys Are Ready To Go’

The RB Leipzig loanee is the latest in the growing list of Super Eagles players with dual nationality.

He featured for England at age-grade level, winning the U-20 World Cup with the Young Lions in 2017 but switched nationality earlier in the year. Lookman scored twice in that competition and is a major addition to the Super Eagles team as they battle for a ticket to Qatar.

The first leg of the encounter will take place in Ghana on Friday while the return fixture holds in Abuja four days later.

On Tuesday, the three-time African champions held their first training in Abuja with Coach Austine Eguavoen expressing satisfaction over the players’ fitness.

“I am very satisfied. You can see that the boys are ready to go,” the former defender told the press after the first session of training.

“The good thing is that they are in season. They are in form and their confidence is very high. No injury worries and I am very satisfied with what we saw in our first training session, one hour, 15 minutes.”

Iheanacho Scores As Leicester Lose To Rampant Man City


Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (R) scores his team’s third goal past Manchester City’s Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2021. Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho scored but Manchester City powered six points clear at the top of the Premier League after quashing Leicester’s comeback bid in a pulsating 6-3 win on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s rampant side scored four times in the opening 25 minutes of a Christmas cracker at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne struck first before Riyad Mahrez converted a penalty.

Ilkay Gundogan bagged City’s third and Raheem Sterling scored a penalty of his own.

James Maddison, Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho all netted for Leicester in the space of just 10 minutes early in the second half.

But Aymeric Laporte killed off the visitors’ hopes of an incredible escape act by heading City’s fifth goal before Sterling scored again in the final minutes.

READ ALSO: Saka Stars In Ruthless Arsenal’s Mauling Of Norwich City

It was the highest-scoring match in the top-flight on Boxing Day since Manchester United won 6-3 against Oldham in 1991.

With second-placed Liverpool’s match against Leeds on Sunday postponed due to the coronavirus, City were able to extend their lead over their main title rivals.

Guardiola’s champions have won nine successive league games, scoring 17 goals in their last three matches as they end 2021 in scintillating style.

City’s 4-0 win against Newcastle last weekend made them the first top-flight team to win 34 league games in a calendar year, beating Liverpool’s 1982 record.

A 36th league victory at Brentford on Wednesday would send City into the new year firmly cemented as title favourites.

Phil Foden and Jack Grealish were again among the substitutes after irking Guardiola with their off-field antics, while Rodri, John Stones, and Kyle Walker were absent from the matchday squad altogether.

Guardiola’s rotation worked perfectly as City made a blistering start, taking the lead in the fifth minute.

Laporte to the Rescue 


Manchester City’s German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on December 26, 2021.
Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Bernardo Silva found Fernandinho and his chipped pass reached De Bruyne, who deftly controlled with his first touch before curling a fine finish past Kasper Schmeichel from inside the Leicester area.

It was just De Bruyne’s sixth goal of a difficult injury and Covid-hit season for the Belgian midfielder, who finally looks closer to his peak form.

City had hit seven against Leeds in their previous home game and they were on the goal-trail again in the 14th minute.

Youri Tielemans needlessly pulled down Laporte at a City corner and Chris Kavanagh awarded a penalty after checking the pitchside monitor.

Mahrez dispatched the spot-kick with ease, giving the former Leicester winger four goals in his last four appearances.

City cut through the Leicester defence again to make it three in the 21st minute.

Joao Cancelo drove in a low cross which Schmeichel could only parry into Gundogan’s path, presenting the German with a simple tap-in.

City were red-hot and Tielemans’ response was a flustered hack on Sterling that conceded another penalty in the 25th minute.

Mahrez ceded spot-kick duties to Sterling and the forward fired into the top corner for his seventh goal in his last 10 matches.

Maddison’s solo effort reduced the deficit in the 55th minute.

Flicking his pass around Ruben Dias to Iheanacho, Maddison timed his run onto the return ball perfectly and produced a clinical finish.

Suddenly, City were creaking at the back and four minutes later Iheanacho picked out Lookman, who scampered clear to fire past Ederson.

As Guardiola fretted on the touchline, Iheanacho increased the anxiety around the Etihad in the 65th minute with a close-range finish after Maddison’s drive was tipped onto the bar by Ederson.

But Laporte quelled Leicester’s stunning revival in the 69th minute with a powerful header from Mahrez’s corner.

And, with three minutes left, Sterling completed City’s goal-spree with a simple finish from Dias’ header.

AFP

Leicester’s Title-Winning Captain Wes Morgan To Retire End Of Season

Wes Morgan lifting the EPL trophy in 2016. Photo: [email protected] Leicester City FC.

 

Leicester’s Premier League title-winning captain Wes Morgan will retire when the final whistle blows on the season, the club announced on Friday.

The 37-year-old skippered the Foxes to their shock title win in 2016 and helped them lift the FA Cup for the first time when he made a late substitute appearance in last week’s 1-0 final victory over Chelsea.

Morgan has made 324 appearances and scored 14 goals for Leicester in all competitions since joining from Nottingham Forest in 2012, and was capped 30 times by Jamaica.

Leicester City chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha paid a handsome tribute to the long-serving captain, who has struggled with a back problem this year.

READ ALSOIheanacho Scores But Chelsea Beat Leicester To Gain Top-Four Advantage

“Wes has been one of Leicester City’s greatest servants, leading the team through the club’s most successful era and helping to set the standards that have pushed the club forward,” he said.

“A big brother to everyone he has played with, a strong representative of the squad and a valuable source of counsel to managers and senior executives in the club, his contribution has been enormous.”

Full-back Christian Fuchs, another member of the title-winning side, is also leaving the King Power Stadium at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old Austria international arrived on a free transfer in 2015 and has played 152 times, scoring three goals.

Leicester end their season at home to Tottenham on Sunday hoping to secure a top-four finish, which would mean qualification for next season’s Champions League.

AFP

Newcastle Dent Leicester’s Champions League Bid With Shock Win

Newcastle United’s English striker Callum Wilson celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on May 7, 2021.
Nick Potts / POOL / AFP

 

Newcastle United derailed Leicester City’s bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League with a 4-2 win on Friday that all but secured their place in the Premier League.

Defeat left Leicester third, two points in front of Chelsea and five ahead of West Ham, with both London clubs having a game in hand over the Foxes. Only the top four at the end of the Premier League season qualify for the Champions League.

Joe Willock, on loan from Arsenal, fired Newcastle in front in the 22nd minute at the King Power Stadium as he scored in his fourth successive top-flight game for the Magpies.

And the visitors doubled their lead before half-time with a rare goal from Paul Dummett.

Callum Wilson appeared to put the result beyond doubt with two second-half goals for Newcastle.

Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho however, both scored inside the final 10 minutes for Leicester before Newcastle saw out the game.

Leicester, who face Chelsea in the FA Cup final next weekend, are now in danger of fresh Champions League heartache after they missed out on the top four of the final day of last season.

 

Leicester City’s English midfielder James Maddison reacts after Newcastle scored their fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on May 7, 2021.
Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

‘Lacked concentration’

Their three remaining league games are all against teams currently in the top six, with Brendan Rodgers’ men travelling to Manchester United on Tuesday before they face Chelsea and Tottenham after their Wembley clash with the Blues.

“We lacked concentration and if you do that against good teams and good players they punish you,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.

Leicester suffered a setback shortly before kick-off when experienced defender Jonny Evans pulled out after being injured in the warm-up, with Rodgers saying: “He is the brain in our defensive line…It was a big blow for us.”

Rodgers, however, insisted: “We are still in a really good position and everything is still in our hands.”

Newcastle’s win, which took place a day after UK tax authorities dropped their criminal investigation into the club, saw them move 12 points clear of the relegation zone with three games left to play.

They will be assured of top-flight survival without kicking a ball if Fulham fail to beat Burnley on Monday.

“Some of the counter-attacking was excellent, delighted with the win,” said Newcastle manager Steve Bruce.

“We made it a bit hairy towards the end. We are not safe, for the Premier League you can’t take it for granted.”

Newcastle made the early running and got the goal they deserved when Willock capitalised on a mistake by Caglar Soyuncu to beat Kasper Schmeichel from 10 yards.

Dummett made it 2-0 in the 34th minute when he powered in a header from Matt Ritchie’s corner.

Midway through the second half, Newcastle were 3-0 in front when Ritchie’s pass down the left evaded Timothy Castagne and allowed Wilson to round Schmeichel before scoring.

Wilson had his second goal and Newcastle’s fourth in the 73rd-minute firing in the rebound from a tight angle, after his initial shot hit the post, to crown a counter-attack.

Newcastle were cruising at 4-0 ahead only to suffer a nervous finish following late goals from Albrighton and Iheanacho.

Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka had to make a brilliant stop to preserve his side’s two-goal lead when he denied Ayoze Perez from point-blank range.

-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 Signs Contract Extension Deal With Leicester

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho.

 

In-form Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho has signed a new contract with Leicester that will keep him at the Premier League club until 2024.

Iheanacho has scored nine times in his last nine appearances in all competitions as Leicester cemented their grip on third place in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

The 24-year-old, who arrived at Leicester from Manchester City in 2017, scored five goals in three Premier League matches in March, earning him the top-flight Player of the Month prize.

“I can’t express how I’m feeling. I’m excited, I’m happy, I’m overwhelmed! It’s a great moment and I’m happy that Leicester City gave me a new contract,” Iheanacho told Leicester’s website.

“It’s been a great time here. It’s not been easy, but there’s a lot of people here that are good people, great people to work with. They are nice people and they make me feel comfortable and welcome since I came in.

“It’s been really great being here. It’s like a family. I’m happy being here and hopefully I can stay here many more years.”

 

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

 

Iheanacho’s tally this season of 12 has taken him to 32 goals for Leicester in 117 games in all competitions.

“I think you see a young player playing at the top of his game,” Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said.

“I can only speak for the two years I’ve been here but his work, his ambition to become a better player was always there.

“He’s a wonderful character within the squad, constantly smiling, and whatever role he’s been asked to play he’s played it very well.”

 

 

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)

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

Leicester Held By Burnley, Villa Shocked By Sheffield United

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C bottom) celebrates scoring their first goal to equalise 1-1 during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Leicester City at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on March 3, 2021. (Photo by Alex Pantling / POOL / AFP)

 

Leicester had captain Kasper Schmeichel to thank just for a point in a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Wednesday as the Foxes’ bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League stumbled again at Turf Moor on Wednesday.

Aston Villa also missed the chance to move to within two points of the top four as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United, who held on for the final half an hour with 10 men.

Leicester’s challenge for a return to the Champions League next season has been badly hit by a series of injuries to key players and the presence of James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Jonny Evans and James Justin was badly missed.

A point edges Brendan Rodgers’s men level on points with second-placed Manchester United, who face Crystal Palace later on Wednesday.

But Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton all have the chance to close in on Leicester — who have not won in their last three games — when they are in action on Thursday.

A newly configured defence and midfield for the visitors showed as Hamza Choudhury’s slack pass to Wilfred Ndidi allowed Matej Vydra to smash home his first league goal in nearly 12 months after just four minutes.

Choudhury missed a great chance to quickly make amends as his looping effort was tipped over by Nick Pope.

 

Burnley’s English defender Charlie Taylor (L) tries to block Leicester City’s Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans (R) during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Leicester City at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on March 3, 2021. (Photo by PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP) 

 

However, Kelechi Iheanacho’s splendid finish drew Leicester level on 34 minutes as the Nigerian volleyed home from Ndidi’s floated ball over the top.

Schmeichel then produced two stunning saves to prevent Chris Wood restoring Burnley’s lead early in the second half.

The Dane leapt to his left to parry the New Zealander’s powerful header before getting down low to his right to turn another deflected Wood shot wide.

Ashley Westwood then rattled the post for Burnley, but Leicester finished the stronger and could have snatched a victory that would have taken up to second in the table.

Marc Albrighton stung the palms of Pope before Youri Tielemans’s shot came back off the post.

A point takes Burnley six points clear of the bottom three in 15th.

Sheffield United secured just their fourth win of the season as David McGoldrick scored the only goal against a Villa side desperately missing the inspiration of injured captain Jack Grealish.

McGoldrick swept home George Baldock’s cross off the underside of the bar.

Bertrand Traore fired wide from the edge of the area and Ollie Watkins hit the post for Villa before Phil Jagielka was sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity when he chopped down Anwar El Ghazi.

 

Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (R) makes a save during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Leicester City at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on March 3, 2021. (Photo by Jon Super / POOL / AFP)

 

Despite dominating possession, Villa failed to make the man advantage count to remain down in ninth.

Blades boss Chris Wilder has already conceded his side are headed back to the Championship, but they close the gap to survival to 12 points.