Rel­e­ga­tion a gen­uine prospect for Le­ices­ter

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

Rel­e­ga­tion is loom­ing as a gen­uine prospect for stut­ter­ing Pre­mier League soccer cham­pion Le­ices­ter.

It’s 79 years since a de­fend­ing cham­pion was rel­e­gated from Eng­land’s top divi­sion — the fate be­fell Manch­ester City in 1938 — but Le­ices­ter is head­ing that way af­ter a 3-0 home loss to Manch­ester United on Sun­day.

That left Clau­dio Ranieri’s team in 16th place in the 20-team league, one point above the rel­e­ga­tion zone with 14 matches left. This time last sea­son, the Foxes were atop the stand­ings and on their way to the most re­mark­able ti­tle tri­umph in Pre­mier League his­tory.

“Let’s not talk about last sea­son. It’s gone,” Le­ices­ter goal­keeper Kasper Sch­me­ichel said.

“It is not a com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion. It has been ter­ri­ble, em­bar­rass­ing. It is time for each one of us — from the top to the bot­tom of this club — to be counted.”

Un­con­firmed re­ports of dress­in­groom un­rest have sur­faced in the Bri­tish me­dia in re­cent weeks, adding to Le­ices­ter’s prob­lems. A look at Sun­day’s games: LE­ICES­TER 0, MAN UNITED 3 United scored three goals in an eight­minute pe­riod at King Power Sta­dium.

Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan’s bril­liant run and fin­ish broke the dead­lock in the 42nd and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic added a sec­ond with a first-time strike 88 sec­onds later, his 15th league goal of the sea­son.

Juan Mata, pic­tured above, was per­haps for­tu­nate not to re­ceive a firsthalf red card for a ro­bust tackle on Jamie Vardy, so it was even more galling for Le­ices­ter fans to see the Spain play­maker make it 3-0. MAN CITY 2, SWANSEA 1 Gabriel Je­sus started ahead of Ser­gio Aguero and jus­ti­fied the se­lec­tion by scor­ing twice, in­clud­ing the win­ner two min­utes into stop­page time.

That’s three goals in his first two starts in the league for the 19-year-old Brazil striker, who has ad­justed quickly to the English game and has de­lighted City coach Pep Guardiola.

“Ev­ery­body is a bit sur­prised by his level,” said Guardiola. LEAGUE CHAM­PI­ONSHIP A clash be­tween ri­val man­agers sparked a free-for-all be­tween play­ers and coach­ing staff of Hud­der­s­field and Leeds at the end of a York­shire derby in the sec­ond-tier League Cham­pi­onship.

Hud­der­s­field coach David Wag­ner raced down the touch­line and joined in the cel­e­bra­tions of his play­ers af­ter a goal by Michael He­fele, which proved to be the win­ner in a 2-1 vic­tory for the hosts.

As Wag­ner re­turned to his bench, he was blocked off by Leeds man­ager Garry Monk.

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