Demarai Gray

Redemption: Saints stun Leicester

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Southampton beat Leicester City 2-1 in a wild clash at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

The victory tasted even sweeter for Saints after their 9-0 humiliation at home against Leicester earlier this season.

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Dennis Praet gave Leicester the lead but Stuart Armstrong made it 1-1 and Danny Ings went close on several occasions before he sealed the win late on.

Saints had a penalty kick chalked off by VAR and Kelechi Iheanacho and Johnny Evans were both denied goals by the technology as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s warm embrace with Brendan Rodgers at the final whistle showed a man who has come back from the brink.

With the win, their sixth in their last nine games, Saints remain in 12th but are on 28 points and just three points off seventh. Leicester sit in second but could slip down to third by the end of the weekend.


3 things we learned

1. Redemption for Southampton: This victory will be sweet for every single person connected with Saints. They were humiliated 9-0 by Leicester earlier this season and Hasenhuttl’s side dominated this game throughout. They should have won easily but dug in and showed amazing character, just like they have done since that mauling, to keep their amazing recent run going.

2. Leicester running out of steam: The Foxes have now lost three of their last five games and the wheels are starting to come off a little. They missed the injured Wilfried Ndidi badly and Vardy and Maddison only showed flashes of their quality. The Foxes would have to have a dramatic collapse to finish outside the top four, but it looks like a top two finish could be out of the question.

3 Unlucky Ings strikes again: He hit the bar twice in the first half within 30 seconds and was denied brilliantly twice by Kasper Schmeichel and it looked like it wouldn’t be his day. But he delivered late on to take his amazing run to 10 goals in his last 11 games. Ings is on fire and so are Southampton and he will be called up by England in March. A gutsy display by Ings who could barely run in the final moments.

Man of the Match: Danny Ings – Scotsman Stuart Armstrong put in an amazing shift in midfield and probably deserved this award, but the work Ings put in and the way he kept going summed up his, and Southampton’s, superb return to form in recent months. What a story.


Saints should have taken the lead early on as Harvey Barnes gave the ball away and Ings was clean through on goal but Kasper Schmeichel denied him twice.

Leicester made the most of that reprieve as Ayoze Perez’s quick free kick found Jamie Vardy who crossed for Praet to finish at the back post.

But Southampton, much to their credit, kept plugging away and hit back in the first half as Armstrong’s shot took a big deflection off James Maddison and snuck in to make it 1-1.

Ings then came so close to scoring twice for Saints as he first hit the crossbar with a flicked effort at the near post, then moments later smashed the bar from distance as Leicester were pinned back.

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Caglar Soyuncu then cleared off the line from Jack Stephens as Saints continued to look the more dangerous side.

Armstrong smashed over the bar and then a big movement of controversy arrived. Long was played in and was clean through but Caglar Soyuncu brought him down.

However, VAR intervened as Long was slightly offside when he was played in so the penalty was not given.

Che Adams came on and set up Ings to make it 2-1 as he nutmegged Kasper Schmeichel amid wild celebrations from the away fans.

The in-form striker should have wrapped it up again as Nathan Redmond played him in but Ings had a good effort which was brilliantly tipped wide by Schmeichel.

Demarai Gray was then denied by Alex McCarthy and Leicester thought they had grabbed a point when Johnny Evans nodded home in the 90th minute but VAR was used, again, and the goal was chalked not given as he was offside.

Rodgers ‘so proud’ of Leicester after making 9 changes, winning

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More than anything else, Leicester City simply needed a bit of a gift from the scheduling gods — to play any side other than Manchester City or Liverpool, their last two opponents — to get back to winning ways after three straight games without a victory.

[ MORE: Mourinho: Spurs keep making “same mistakes match after match” ]

Brendan Rodgers took a calculated, if not forced, risk by making nine changes to the team that was thrashed by the runaway Reds less than 48 hours prior, and it paid off in a big way: a 2-1 victory away to West Ham United on Saturday.

After the game, Demarai Gray, one of the nine players to come into the team and the one who scored the game-winning goal after having a penalty kick saved 45 minutes prior, was delighted for himself and the other members of the “fresh team” who took their chance and made the most of it — quotes from the BBC:

“We were in control for a lot of it. We let them back in it with the goal at the end of the first half but overall we controlled the game. We put out a fresh team, but it paid off.

“I was fine taking the penalty, I’m not really nervous in that situation. Those things happen, but it was important to react properly and I did and I got the goal and I was happy. It always means a lot to score and most importantly we got the three points at the end.

“Anytime you come in if you’re not playing so much you have to try and stamp your mark and get yourself in the team. We knew it was a quick turnaround and we knew we’d need a fresh XI, but it just shows the quality and depth we’ve got in the team.”

“We haven’t spoke about the title race or the top four. We just take each game as it comes and try and get three points and see where we are at the end of the season.”

Thanks to Man City’s loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday, Leicester are guaranteed to enter 2020 as the second-place side in the Premier League. They lead the two-time defending champions, who play on Sunday, by four points, though they also trail Liverpool, who also play on Sunday and have an extra game in hand, by 10 points.

Much-changed Leicester City wins at West Ham

Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
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Ayoze Perez set up a pair of goals as Leicester City rebounded for a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray supplied the goals for the Foxes, who move four points clear of third place Man City.

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Pablo Fornals scored for West Ham and under fire manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side sits just one point ahead of 18th place Aston Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Rodgers rewarded for risky rotation: Brendan Rodgers changed nine men from the group embarrassed by Liverpool on Boxing Day, and the makeshift XI very much deserved the three points. Demarai Gray missed a penalty kick and a few other chances were left for dead, but overall the Foxes had every claim to the win.

2. Hammers a real relegation threat: Manuel Pellegrini’s defense has been woeful, and his star attackers couldn’t bail them out Felipe Anderson did assist on Fornals’ goal, and was lively on the left wing, but Sebastien Haller has not been able to sharpen his attacking acumen since an early season hot streak and neither Manuel Lanzini nor a trio of substitutes combined to deliver much threat.

3. Ayoze the assister takes the reins: Longtime Newcastle star Ayoze Perez is a mere component of the King Power Stadium attack. He drove the attacking bus on Saturday in the absence of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison, the latter replacing him in the 64th minute after assists on both goals. He was two for two on dribbles and drew three fouls in a very strong performance.

Man of the Match: Perez.


Lukasz Fabianski gave away a terrible penalty to Kelechi Iheanacho, but then made a save on Demarai Gray’s poor penalty to keep it 0-0.

Iheanacho put Leicester in front when Ayoze Perez made an athletic play to keep a ball in bounds for a near-post headed goal.

Gray then tore into a shot from 12 yards that was nowhere near the mark.

West Ham had a nice chance bound wide when Sebastien Haller’s header was off frame, and the equalizer came moments later through Fornals.

The Spaniard arrived on the scene for a Felipe Anderson cutback to cue the bubbles.

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Gray made it 2-1 in the 56th minute, running onto a Perez through ball and curling around Fabianski.

Wes Morgan came close to making it 3-1 with a quick turn off a post-corner kick scrum, and Hamza Choudhury missed an 86th minute bid.

PL AT HALF: VAR saves Spurs two-goal deficit; West Ham equalizes v. Leicester

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We’ve had four goals through two halves of 12:30 p.m. ET kickoffs in the Premier League, but only three have stayed on the scoreboard.

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Teemu Pukki saw a goal controversially taken off the board, but Norwich City still leads Tottenham Hotspur at Carrow Road.

West Ham United 1-1 Leicester City [ STREAM ]

Brendan Rodgers made nine changes to his Starting XI, but still took the lead through Kelechi Iheanacho‘s header.

The lead didn’t last long, as Felipe Anderson cut a pass back through the 18 to a late arriving Pablo Fornals for a 45th minute equalizer.

Leicester has also seen a Demarai Gray penalty saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Norwich City 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur [STREAM ]

Jose Mourinho can thank VAR that his visiting North Londoners aren’t behind two to 20th place Norwich City.

Josip Vrancic had the Canaries ahead when Teemu Pukki burst through the Spurs back line to make it 2-0, but the thinnest of lines pulled the goal off the board.

Rodgers reacts to Leicester’s title bid taking a big hit

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Brendan Rodgers will have told you that Leicester City were never really in the Premier League title race.

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They probably aren’t after any more they slipped up at home to draw against struggling Norwich City on Saturday at the King Power Stadium, as leaders Liverpool now sit 10 points clear of second-place Leicester.

As for the Foxes, they huffed and puffed but failed to win a ninth-straight Premier League as they fell behind in the first half and although Jamie Vardy did his best, the Foxes never got going agains a stubborn Norwich side as the visitors looked more likely to win it late on.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports after the game Rodgers couldn’t hide his disappointment.

“We didn’t start the game particularly well but I thought second half we dominated the game. It just seemed it was one of those days when it wasn’t going to drop for us. We needed a little bit of luck or something to go our way,” Rodgers said. “The players gave everything. We showed a good mentality but we couldn’t find that final bit of quality in the final third to get the winner.”

Leicester brought on Harvey Barnes and Demarai Gray (in the first half) to try and spark their attack into life but their winning streak ended at eight games.

It is not all doom and gloom.

They are still unbeaten at home this season and are 15 points ahead of fifth-place Sheffield United, so the focus will now be on finishing on the top four.

That was probably always the case for Rodgers and his players as they came up short against Norwich City at the weekend.

Leicester will still end up having a fantastic season but this will probably be the day where their unlikely title bid lost its momentum.