Le­ices­ter start life with­out axed boss by get­ting out of drop zone

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - PHIL BLANCHE

LE­ICES­TER climbed out of the Premier League rel­e­ga­tion zone as the post-Craig Shake­speare era be­gan with a win at Swansea.

Michael Ap­ple­ton was in care­taker com­mand af­ter Shake­speare’s mid­week sack­ing and Le­ices­ter fully mer­ited the three points handed to them by Fed­erico Fer­nan­dez’s first-half own-goal and Shinji Okazaki’s fifth of the sea­son just af­ter the in­ter­val.

Al­fie Maw­son re­duced the deficit from a 56th-minute cor­ner, but Swansea were poor for most of the con­test and were in­debted to their goal­keeper, Lukasz Fabi­an­ski, for keep­ing them in the con­test.

Shake­speare had paid the price for a win­less run of six games and just one league vic­tory all sea­son.

But just as they had done fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of ti­tle-win­ning man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri in Fe­bru­ary, Le­ices­ter re­sponded with a dis­play out of keep­ing with re­cent per­for­mances.

Le­ices­ter showed their in­tent in­side the first minute, when Okazaki’s glanc­ing header forced a fine re­ac­tion stop from Fabi­an­ski.

Fabi­an­ski soon tipped over Marc Al­brighton’s ris­ing drive and the Poland goal­keeper was alert to deny Jamie Vardy and Wil­fred Ndidi, as the Foxes dom­i­nated both pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory.

But Fabi­an­ski had no an­swer af­ter 25 min­utes, when Le­ices­ter prof­ited from Riyad Mahrez switch­ing over to the left flank.

Swansea felt the ball had gone out of play, but Mahrez was al­lowed to con­tinue and whip in a cross, which Fer­nan­dez headed past the help­less Fabi­an­ski.

The hosts had come into the game on the back of a morale-boost­ing 2-0 vic­tory over Hud­der­s­field, but there was lit­tle in­ten­sity and cre­ativ­ity about their play.

Tammy Abra­ham cut an iso­lated fig­ure up front af­ter his Hud­der­s­field dou­ble, al­though he did prompt Kasper Sch­me­ichel into a straight­for­ward save from Mar­tin Ols­son’s cross.

Sch­me­ichel was called upon again when Jor­dan Ayew’s cross de­flected off Danny Simp­son, but Le­ices­ter con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate and Fabi­an­ski was needed to hold on to Ndidi’s 25-yard ef­fort.

Le­ices­ter dou­bled their lead four min­utes into the sec­ond pe­riod, when Swansea again re­acted slug­gishly to a Foxes’ counter-at­tack.

Al­brighton was al­lowed to run un­chal­lenged down the left and he found the un­marked Mahrez, who stayed on­side to set up Okazaki from close range.

Swansea had looked dis­jointed, but they were given a 56th-minute life­line, when Ayew caused con­fu­sion at the near post from Re­nato Sanches’ cor­ner.

The ball ran to Maw­son and he spun and shot in one move­ment to find the bot­tom cor­ner of Sch­me­ichel’s net from eight yards.

Swansea fi­nally be­gan to ap­ply some pres­sure and tested Le­ices­ter’s re­solve with a suc­ces­sion of crosses into the vis­i­tors’ penalty area.

Fabi­an­ski came to Swansea’s res­cue again to deny Vardy and Mahrez, but Le­ices­ter leapfrog them in the ta­ble with the win.

Shake­speare had paid the price for a win­less run of six games and just one league vic­tory all sea­son

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