Leicester 2-0 Everton EPL 29/10/17
Leicester City 2 vs 0 Everton English Premier League 29th October 2017
Everton suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of Leicester City in David Unsworth’s first Premier League game since taking temporary charge of the Blues.
Jamie Vardy opened the scoring for the Foxes, applying the finish to a swift counter-attack involving Demarai Gray and Riyad Mahrez.
Gray doubled the hosts’ lead before the interval when his cross - which was on target - found the bottom corner via Jonjoe Kenny’s sliced clearance.
Unsworth urged his players to “play on the front foot and have a right go” at Leicester as he looked to build on Wednesday night’s encouraging display against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.
“We have had three great sessions (with the players) and, hopefully we can take that - and our performance at Chelsea - into today’s game,” said Unsworth.
“We want to play with a whole deal of positivity and on the front foot. I like to play with width, create numerous chances to give our strikers the opportunities to score and produce the kind of football Evertonians want.
“The message to the players is to play on the front foot and have a right go.”
Unsworth made his intentions clear from the outset, making three changes to the team that started the previous Premier League fixture against Arsenal, with Tom Davies, Aaron Lennon and Kevin Mirallas replacing Gylfi Sigurdsson, Michael Keane and Nikola Vlasic – the latter two missing out on a place in the matchday squad due to knocks.
However, it was Leicester who started the game on the front foot and they put down an early marker inside three minutes when the lively Demarai Gray fired in a low drive from distance that fizzed just wide of Jordan Pickford’s left-hand post.
The Foxes were clearly up for the challenge and eager to impress their new manager Claude Puel, who was taking charge of his first game after replacing Craig Shakespeare.
Everton survived another scare when a shot from Wes Morgan, who was up for a corner, deflected off Ashley Williams.
Then another electric burst from Gray led to a shooting chance for Ben Chilwell but the left-back drilled his effort high and wide from penalty spot range.
The Foxes looked dangerous on the counter-attack and they broke the deadlock following another lightning raid in the 18th minute.
The goal came from an Everton free-kick deep in Leicester’s half of the pitch.
Leighton Baines whipped a cross into the area, which was headed clear and Gray latched on to the loose ball in flash, bursting past Davies and Idrissa Gana Gueye, before picking out Mahrez on the right. The Algerian then swung in a low cross and Vardy raced in to score from six yards out.
Things could have got worse for the Blues moments later when another breakaway led to Vardy teeing up Mahrez but the winger’s shot on the turn lacked the power to beat Pickford.
Everton needed to find a route back into the game and it nearly came midway through the half.
Wayne Rooney dissected the Foxes’ defence with a brilliantly disguised pass that released Lennon, who suddenly found himself one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel on the right-hand side of the area. However, instead of opting to pull the trigger himself, the winger unselfishly tried to pick out Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the chance went begging.
That proved to be a big moment as Leicester promptly doubled their lead in the 28th minute, thanks to a huge slice of good fortune.
Gray popped up on the left this time and whipped over a cross which Jonjoe Kenny attempted to clear but he only succeeded in deflecting it past Pickford. It was a cruel blow for the Toffees.
There was a further sign that this was not to be Everton’s day when the referee Andre Marriner turned down what appeared to be a strong shout for a penalty after Lennon was sent tumbling by Christian Fuchs’ clumsy challenge.
Unsworth decided to shake things up at the beginning of the second half, replacing Lennon and Mirallas with Oumar Niasse and Beni Baningime, and the Blues gradually started to get more of a foothold in the game.
Gana threatened to pull one back when he unleashed a shot from the edge of the area but it took a deflection off Harry Maguire and flew inches over.
Then Phil Jagielka attempted an overhead kick following a goalmouth melee but his effort was straight at Schmeichel, who gathered it comfortably.
Baines had an effort too, but his well-struck effort whizzed past the post.
The Blues continued to push for a way back into the contest in the closing minutes but Leicester’s stubborn defence stood firm.
Next up for Unsworth and his men is a trip to France to play Lyon in the Europa League on Thursday.