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    Leicester 3-1 Liverpool Match Report

    Leicester responded to criticism following the sacking of manager Claudio Ranieri in the best way possible as two goals from Jamie Vardy helped his side overcome a below par Liverpool side.

    The Foxes produced a counter-attacking masterclass, utilising the pace of the clinical Jamie Vardy at every opportunity, and stirred up memories of last season and the kind of football that had steered them to the title.

    Danny Drinkwater's strike shortly before the break gave The Reds a mountain to climb in the second-half and despite only having 31 per cent possession, the home side took an unassailable lead on the hour-mark through Vardy.

    Liverpool responded well after falling 3-0 behind but Philippe Coutinho's 68th-minute strike was nothing but a consolation on a night that belonged to the reigning champions and their caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare.

    Leicester went into the game having lost five consecutive matches in the Premier League, while back-to-back losses in the FA Cup and Champions League had persuaded the board to sack the man who had guided the club to its only top-flight title nine months ago.

    Craig Shakespeare, Ranieri's assistant, was placed in temporary charge following the Italian's dismissal last Thursday and he restored the line-up that almost picked itself for the majority of last season.

    That meant a recall for Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki, replacing Ahmed Musa, while January recruit Wilfred Ndidi was the only player not included in the starting XI that beat Liverpool 2-0 at the King Power Stadium just over a year ago.

    Liverpool, who were missing both Dejan Lovren and captain Jordan Henderson through injury, needed a victory to climb back into the top-four but had not played a competitive match since the 2-0 win over Tottenham 16 days earlier.

    The away side's rustiness was evident in the opening exchanges of the first-half as Leicester sought to catch their opponents cold with the kind of high-tempo start that is usually a trademark of Jurgen Klopp's teams.

    Okazaki was the first Leicester player to have a sight of goal but the Japanese international's reactive header from Vardy's mistimed strike was palmed away by Simon Mignolet at full-stretch.

    The champions tried to stretch the Liverpool defence by playing the ball into Vardy as much as possible and the tactic could have succeeded early-on had it not been for the striker's failure to find the required connection for a second time.

    The England international's excellent first touch from Schmeichel's route-one clearance took the ball into his stride but his scuffed effort was saved by Mignolet as Nathaniel Clyne was on hand to clear the danger.

    It wasn't long before Vardy once again found himself with the goal at his mercy following Danny Drinkwater's defence-splitting pass, which put him in the clear with only the goalkeeper to beat.

    This time he made no mistake, slotting the ball with an unerring authority past a helpless Mignolet to give Leicester a 28th-minute lead that their impressive start to the match had warranted.

    Liverpool rarely offered a threat in the final third of the field prior to half-time but they nearly levelled two minutes later when Philippe Coutinho's effort from a tight ankle was smothered by the onrushing Kasper Schmeichel.

    The home side continued to test Liverpool in wide areas, delivering balls into the box at every opportunity, and their persistence was rewarded six minutes before half-time when Drinkwater doubled The Foxes' lead in spectacular fashion.

    Teed-up by James Milner's headed clearance, the Leicester midfielder rifled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards before Mignolet even had chance to read his intentions.

    The visitors were reduced to shooting from long-range as they tried to find a way back into the match prior to half-time, with Emre Can's effort from outside the penalty area requiring Schmeichel to tip the ball behind at full-stretch.

    Liverpool began the second-half on the front-foot, knowing that an early goal could dent the home side's fragile confidence of late, but they were unable to oblige despite the best efforts of Philippe Coutinho.

    The Brazilian tried to beat Schmeichel from the edge of the penalty area after the ball diverted into his path, but his strike lacked the pace to trouble the in-form goalkeeper who gathered comfortably.

    Leicester continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack in the second-half through the ingenuity of Riyad Mahrez and pace of Vardy and the two were involved once again as The Foxes looked to effectively seal the contest.

    Mahrez and Christian Fuchs linked-up well on the left-wing before the Austrian full-back's inswinging cross was met by Vardy, who leaped highest to head home his ninth goal of the season from 10 yards.

    Liverpool enjoyed their most productive period of the match after falling three goals behind with another smart save from Kasper Schmeichel required in order to keep out Adam Lallana's left-footed strike.

    There was nothing the Dane could do, however, to prevent Coutinho from giving the away side what proved to be a consolation goal when he found space between Robert Huth and Fuchs before picking-out the bottom corner of the net in nonchalant fashion.

    The goal prompted a late Liverpool rally, although the best chance in the dying minutes fell to the home side with Drinkwater's run being spotted by Mahrez before the midfielder's effort narrowly evaded Mignolet's crossbar.

    For all Schmeichel's superlatives throughout the match, some of his hard work was nearly undone three minutes from time when he let Coutinho's weak effort squirm through his grasp before the ball spun inches wide.

    After a difficult few days in the wake of Claudio Ranieri's sacking, Monday night's performance and result proved to be the perfect tonic for a club whose season had looked like heading into freefall following five straight league defeats.

    The players responded in the best way possible, with a return to the basics that had served the club so well last season but had somehow been lost following a spectacular fall from grace this time around.

    Jamie Vardy was key to the club's attempt to rekindle the magic of the last campaign, leading from the front and embodying everything that had made Leicester so successful with a performance high on workrate and endeavour.

    Having fallen into the bottom-three after Saturday's results, it appears that the club may have found their form at just the right time with caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare putting forward a convincing case to keep his position on a full-time basis.

    Jurgen Klopp's side, meanwhile, lacked the cutting edge in the final third of the pitch that had seen them score 46 goals by the turn of the year, while the performance also showed signs of rustiness following a 16-day break since the win over Spurs.

    The Reds lacked their usual tempo and intensity throughout the match, while a poor defensive performance proved costly with the visitors affording Jamie Vardy the kind of space that he had found in such short supply this season.

    The club remain in fifth place, a point behind Arsenal who travel to Anfield on Saturday as the battle for Champions League places heats up, while Leicester climb three places to 15th ahead of Saturday's relegation clash with Hull City.
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    Item Reviewed: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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