Kelechi Iheanacho

Vardy, Iheanacho power 4-star Foxes past Villa

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Kelechi Iheanacho again collected a goal and an assist and Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester City punished Aston Villa in an entertaining 4-1 at Villa Park on Sunday.

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Jonny Evans also scored for the Foxes, who maintain their place eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

Jack Grealish scored for Aston Villa, which stays ahead of 18th place on Southampton on goal differential.

Leicester City hosts Liverpool on Boxing Day, a date to circle on the calendar.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho emergence a new wrinkle: Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho was always lurking as a possible star during his time at Man City, but couldn’t break through and transferred to the King Power Stadium. Life hadn’t been easy at his new home, but a goal and an assist in consecutive Premier League fixtures can make a difference as Leicester hopes to challenge Liverpool. Resting Jamie Vardy on occasion without a big drop-off would be a potentially monumental development.

2. Vardy’s party a record bash: The 15th and 16th goals of Vardy’s PL run put him on pace for 38. That would be six better than Mohamed Salah‘s 38-game record and four better than the 42-game mark shared by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Even when he makes mistakes, he finishes.

3. Hobbled Mings a big worry: Villa star center back Tyrone Mings pulled up with an injury but attempted to fight through it. Full credit to him, as he’s been the easy star of the newly-promoted side’s start to life in the Premier League, but an absence or step back from the block and clearance machine will be a major blow to Dean Smith‘s side.

Man of the Match: It’s between Vardy and Iheanacho — James Maddison was also good — and we’ll choose Vardy because we gave it to Iheanacho at midweek.


Kelechi Iheanacho slipped Vardy through on goal, and the Foxes striker nearly blew his chance despite dribbling the keeper.

Ezri Konsa would’ve liked to challenge Vardy following the unusual mis-touch, but the defender was felled by his own sliding keeper.

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After Anwar El Ghazi just missed a promising bid to equalize, Villa’s Bjorn Engels slid to break up a Vardy pass to a wide open Iheanacho.

The Nigerian got his goal in the 41st, a James Maddison cross deflected goal ward and off his leg for 2-0.

Grealish bounced a shot through traffic and inside the far post after Vardy couldn’t clear a corner kick.

Leicester needed less than four second half minutes to restore its two-goal advantage, the unmarked Evans perfectly placing a back post header across goal off a corner kick.

‘Call me Mr. VAR’ says Iheanacho; Vardy on title talk

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Kelechi Iheanacho has now scored the first VAR-awarded goal in England as well as the latest, a 2-1 match-winner against Everton.

Having bagged a goal via Video Assistant Referee review in the League Cup, Iheanacho nabbed a more consequential one on Sunday when his stoppage time run past the Everton back line was initially ruled offside before becoming the match-winning goal.

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“You can call me Mr. VAR,” he quipped. “I knew it was a goal. I was onside. Happy that VAR gave me it.”

Iheanacho is the name on everyone’s lips after he subbed into the match and set-up Jamie Vardy‘s equalizer before producing the aforementioned winner that sent Leicester into sole possession of second place in the Premier League.

It was his first top flight goal since Sept. 22, 2018 when he had a goal and an assist against Huddersfield Town. Vardy says the reward is just.

“We were having a few chances but they were coming from a bit further out. Kelechi caused a few more problems for the defenders, he got us into space and he got the winner which he deserves. He thoroughly deserves this.”

Vardy was asked whether Leicester can imagine itself a title contender.

“We’ve not been speaking about that, we’re taking each game as it comes,” he said. “The first thing is to get each game out the way and get the three points. We have to enjoy this and go again on Wednesday night. We have lots of attacking threat and we’re putting it all together. We’ll just carry on doing what we’re doing.”

Leicester has Watford, Aston Villa, and Norwich City before meeting Man City and Liverpool back-to-back.

Super sub Iheanacho gives Leicester stoppage time win

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Leicester City came from behind to become the second Premier League team to break the 30-point barrier following a 2-1 defeat of Everton at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

Kelechi Iheanacho had a stoppage time goal awarded by VAR after he assisted Jamie Vardy‘s league-leading 13th goal earlier in the second half.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Second place Leicester remains 8 points back of Liverpool, while 17th place Everton remains two points clear of the Bottom Three.

The last second capitulation may be the last straw for Marco Silva, whose Toffees looked set to get a fine point.


Three things we learned

1. Iheanacho stars off the bench: It’s been a tough run for the Nigerian at Everton since a high-profile move from Manchester City, but Brendan Rodgers called Iheanacho’s number at the right time. He set up Vardy’s equalizer before scoring deep in stoppage only to see the linesman’s flag up. But VAR showed Yerry Mina‘s knee kept Iheanacho’s shoulder onside by millimeters, and Iheanacho was able to celebrate a second time.

2. Richarlison unmarkable when at his best: When Richarlison is firing, there are few more powerful forces in the Premier League. The big man commanded the area on Sunday, not just with his opening goal but with another header off a corner that went wide of the goal and a terrific bit of strength and speed in working Caglas Soyuncu to produce an early second half chance for Gylfi Sigurdsson. His season total is up to six goals and two assists in 17 matches.

3. Vardy keeps firing: The veteran English striker extended his Premier League goals lead to 13 when he bundled in Iheanacho’s cross to give him eight goals and two assists in his last six matches. It’s an incredible run for Vardy, who nearly assisted a James Maddison goal moments after his marker.

Man of the Match: Wilfred Ndidi was everywhere, even shuttling the ball to Iheanacho in the run-up to Vardy’s equalizer. He passed well, and won balls left, right, and center. With apologies to Richarlison, the honor goes to the Nigerian.


Lucas Digne crossed to produce an eighth minute chance for Djibril Sidibe, but the Frenchman blazed his shot just over the bar.

At the other end, a falling Ayoze Perez dribbled a shot to Jordan Pickford.

It was almost all Leicester, so of course Everton went ahead in the 23rd minute. Alex Iwobi played a marauding Sidibe down the right side for a cross that Richarlison powered home with a header.

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Ben Chilwell won a penalty off Mason Holgate in the 34th minute, and VAR had a long look after the Englishman hit the deck despite no contact. The penalty call was withdrawn.

The second half saw Richarlison beat Soyuncu, a rare feat, to cut back for Sigurdsson. The Icelandic star had his shot partially deflected for a corner.

Wilfred Ndidi sent Ricardo Pereira on goal, but Pickford made a fine low save to keep it 1-0.

Holgate froze Ndidi when he took down a cross and switched to his right foot, but his drive was blocked.

Vardy made it 1-1 in the 68th minute with a goal in his sixth-straight appearance, racing to the back post to meet substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s pass through the 18 past Holgate.

He’d then produce an assist-worthy pass to Maddison before craning his neck to put a header just over the bar. Leicester City were knocking at the the door.

Richarlison set up substitute Moise Kean for an 80th minute arrow that flew into the outside of the side netting.

Iheanacho scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, and VAR defied the linesman to give him his first Premier League goal in a year.

Nigeria beats Iceland; Argentina still alive

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Ahmed Musa scored a pair of terrific goals as Nigeria set up Group D for a thrilling final day with a 2-0 win over Iceland in Volgograd on Friday.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was arguably Iceland’s Man of the Match before he sent a penalty kick over the bar.

Nigeria now has three points, two more than Argentina and Iceland. Nigeria plays Argentina and Croatia faces Iceland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Gylfi Sigurdsson swung a dangerous early free kick over the bar, then produced the game’s second chance. That one was caught by Francis Uzoho, the 19-year-old Deportivo de la Coruna backstop.

Nigeria’s breakthrough came courtesy a lethal counter attack, as Kenneth Omeruo headed a cross clear of the Eagles’ 18. Kelechi Iheanacho collected and found Victor Moses racing down the right flank.

Moses’ cross was collected by Musa with an unorthodox outside of the boot trap, allowing him a second against his surprised mark. Musa lashed home for 1-0.

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The game was delayed for a bit when Ragnar Sigurdsson was waylaid with a head injury.

Wilfred Ndidi had a rip deflected over the bar in the 57th, and Nigeria opted for a short corner.

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Musa then basically put it to bed when he cut into the 18 and danced around two defenders with the goalkeeper in between before putting a composed finish into the goal.

Iceland got new life through an 81st minute penalty kick awarded via Video Assistant Referee, but Gylfi Sigurdsson blazed it over the bar.

2018 World Cup team preview: Nigeria

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Getting to know Nigeria: Yes, we know their jerseys are selling out, but the team’s pretty good, too.

With Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Victor Moses (Chelsea), and Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), this may be the best Nigeria side at a World Cup since the 2002 side with Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha.

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Two of the Super Eagles’ four World Cup berths have ended in the Round of 16, including 2014’s 2-0 loss to France. Remember: this is a nation which has won a pair of U-17 World Cups in the past five years.

For more history on Nigeria, click here.

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What group are they in? D


Game schedule – Group D – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Saturday, June 16: Croatia v Nigeria, Kaliningrad 3 p.m. ET
Friday, June 22: Nigeria v Iceland, Volgograd 11 a.m. ET
Tuesday, June 26: Nigeria v Argentina, St. Petersburg 2 p.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-3-3) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Uzoho —–

— Idowu — Troost-Ekung — Balogun — Shehu

—- Ndidi —- Onazi —- Obi —-

—- Iwobi —- Iheanacho —- Moses —-


Star player: Alex Iwobi – It was close, but Iwobi gets the nod over Chelsea’s Victor Moses. The Arsenal attacker is Jay-Jay Okocha’s nephew, and his two goals against Argentina last year served notice that he’s capable of shining on the international stage.


Manager: Gernot Rohr – The 64-year-old German has been around the block, doing club stints with Bordeaux, Nantes, Nice, and Young Boys as well as international duty with Gabon, Niger, and Burkina Faso.


Secret weapon: Wilfred Ndidi —  Just like in the Premier League with Leicester City, Ndidi may not stand out from the XI but he’s a disruptive force. At 20 years old, he’s got a chance to start a journey as an African legend of the World Cup.


Prediction: Man (or woman), is this a tough one. Argentina is one of the tournament favorites, and both Croatia and Nigeria could be considered the top dark horse of the field (lest we forget group mate Iceland’s EURO run). A lot rides on match No. 1 against Croatia, and we think Nigeria just comes up short in a bid to finish second.