Lukaku strikes to deepen Le­ices­ter’s prob­lems

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Goals by Kevin Mi­ral­las and Romelu Lukaku kept cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter firmly en­meshed in the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle yes­ter­day as they lost 2-0 to Ever­ton in their Premier League clash.

Mi­ral­las’ third goal in as many games against the Foxes and Lukaku’s 10th this sea­son came against a Le­ices­ter side miss­ing three key play­ers, all of them sus­pended, in­clud­ing striker Jamie Vardy.

The only con­so­la­tion for Le­ices­ter was that two of the bot­tom three Sun­der­land and Swansea lost but even so they are only three points above the rel­e­ga­tion spots.

For Ever­ton it was their first away win in three months. Le­ices­ter made their point about Vardy’s three match ban-for a red card against Stoke last week­end-by plac­ing masks of the Eng­land striker on the 30,000 seats. Vardy seated in the stands played along putting one on. Both sides failed to fire in the first-half and the Ever­ton fans had to wait till the 43rd minute be­fore their side mus­tered their first ef­fort on goal, al­beit off tar­get, with Ramiro Funes Mori head­ing over the cross­bar.

Le­ices­ter man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri tried to change things at the break bring­ing on in­flu­en­tial mid­fielder Danny Drinkwa­ter­who has just re­turned from be­ing out in­jured with a knee prob­lem-in place of Shinji Okazaki as he pushed three men up front. Ini­tially the ploy seemed to be work­ing with first Is­lam Sli­mani and then De­marai Gray go­ing close with shots from out­side the penalty area. But one long clear­ance later and the Foxes were flat­tened. Goal­keeper Joel Robles sent a huge clear­ance down the mid­dle that saw Mi­ral­las sprint goal­side of Marcin Wasilewski and Wes Mor­gan.

Three touches later and the ball was in the back of the net cour­tesy of a de­flec­tion from Wasilewski that gave Kasper Sch­me­ichel no hope of mak­ing the save. Ranieri made a dou­ble change midway through the half and it al­most paid im­me­di­ate div­i­dends.

Loud boos rang around the King Power Sta­dium when the lively Gray, ar­guably City’s best per­former, was re­placed by Leonardo Ul­loa with Riyad Mahrez also com­ing on for Andy King.

Within a minute of their ar­rival Ul­loa should have nod­ded home from Danny Simp­son’s fine hang­ing di­ag­o­nal ball but headed straight at Robles who caught un­der the cross­bar.

There fol­lowed long pe­ri­ods of Le­ices­ter pres­sure with Ever­ton very much hav­ing their backs to the wall. But try as they might the home team failed to cre­ate a sin­gle note­wor­thy op­por­tu­nity.

Ever­ton should have wrapped things up when Lukaku squared for Idrissa Gu­eye who some­how bal­looned his ef­fort over an open goal from six yards.

Drinkwa­ter was booked for an ob­vi­ous push on Aaron Len­non as City’s frus­tra­tions mounted. In in­jury time and with Le­ices­ter pour­ing for­ward Ross Barkley lashed a clear­ance for­ward from the edge of his own box. Lukaku shrugged aside Mor­gan’s chal­lenge, sprinted to­wards the box, coasted past Wasilewski and fin­ished be­yond Sch­me­ichel. — AFP

LE­ICES­TER: Le­ices­ter City’s Is­lam Sli­mani, cen­ter, and Ever­ton’s Ash­ley Wil­liams, left, bat­tle for the ball dur­ing the English Premier League soc­cer match be­tween Le­ices­ter City and Ever­ton at the King Power Sta­dium, Le­ices­ter, Eng­land, yes­ter­day. — AP

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