Leicester City Burnley
Barnes 20, Pieters 50 og, Justin 61, Praet 79
Wood 10, Dunne 73
For all Leicester’s wobble late last season, there were whole months when they looked unstoppable. Last night, defensive frailties notwithstanding, showcased the best their midfield and strike force can offer. Propelled by the imperious Harvey Barnes, they have scored seven goals in two games and won their opening pair of league matches for the first time since the title-winning campaign of 2015-16.
Leicester were unchanged after the previous week’s stroll at the Hawthorns. Burnley, though, began their Premier League season with their paucity of resources on display. On this day last year, Jimmy Dunne was helping Fleetwood Town overcome Rochdale in League One, the fifth loan of a seemingly moribund career at Turf Moor.
Last night, with Ben Mee injured and James Tarkowski – the victim of both a toe niggle and speculation as to his whereabouts when the transfer window closes – absent, Dunne stepped up to make his Premier League debut. The 22-year-old Irishman scored Burnley’s second, and did not disgrace himself, but his team’s problems run deeper than a rookie centre-back.
“I liked our mentality tonight,” Sean Dyche, the Burnley manager, said. “But it’s not new news how we have to operate. We work with what we’ve got.”
Rather than prey upon the new boy, Jamie Vardy flitted between Dunne and Kevin Long, adding the element of surprise to his wily manoeuvring, but it was Barnes who particularly impressed. “I’m delighted
Through the crowd: Dennis Praet shoots from the edge of the penalty area to score the last of Leicester’s four goals against Burnley
for him,” said Brendan Rodgers, who was celebrating his 100th Premier League victory as a manager. “He was brilliant tonight and his composure and aggression were outstanding. If he can increase his
numbers and his understanding, he’s going to get better still.”
Leicester were rather less effervescent in defence, where their own central indispositions forced Wilfred Ndidi to continue as Caglar Soyuncu’s uncomfortable sidekick, but both were bypassed when excellent work from Dwight McNeil enabled Charlie Taylor to cross deep from the left. James Justin made a hash of dealing with Chris Wood, who chested the ball down and volleyed past Kasper Schmeichel. Justin would be far from innocent for Burnley’s second, too.
Ten minutes later Leicester were level. Barnes’s defence-splitting pass found Vardy, who galloped on and seemed poised to score when Taylor and Dunne careered into each other. Instead, Vardy rolled it back for Timothy Castagne, who side-footed across the area for the onrushing Barnes to smash home.
With Barnes causing all sorts of trouble down Leicester’s left, and Dennis Praet industrious in the centre, Leicester assumed hegemony,
but Burnley clung on until the 50th minute. Justin found Youri Tielemans, whose sumptuous pass took out the entire defence, but not the overlapping Castagne, whose crossshot was deflected past Nick Pope by the unfortunate Erik Pieters.
Leicester were dominant now and goal number three arrived when Ayoze Perez twisted past a battalion of lacklustre challenges before squaring to Justin to sweep in his first Premier League goal.
Burnley rallied a little. McNeil slung over a free-kick and Dunne overwhelmed Justin’s limp challenge to bundle the ball into the net. But if Dunne’s scrappy goal had prised open Leicester’s door, it soon slammed shut again. The irresistible Barnes waltzed through some more lily-livered defenders and found Praet, who had time to look up and weigh his options before firing past an understandably angry Pope.
Wood almost made the last few minutes more thrilling still when he beat Schmeichel, but not, alas for him and his team, the post.