The post Ranieri era started off brightly at the KP Stadium as Liverpool came to town and left empty handed. Craig Shakespeare was handed the mantle to carry on temporarily after the sacking of title winning manager Claudio Ranieri, the English man lined up his team fearlessly, setting up the same bunch that collapsed under the departed Italian and fashioned out what would be their greatest result all season long. Juergen Klopp on his parts had to do without Daniel Sturridge again but had Phillippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane fit enough for the trip to eastlands.
The game started off with end to end stuff where Leicester got denied twice in quick succession, first it was Huth and then Okazaki, both repelled by smart Mignolet saves long before Liverpool threatened once; Wes Morgan rolled back last season’s form to deny Joel Matip a simple tap in with the Liverpool defender well placed to open the night’s account. The hunger in the Leicester team on the night eclipsed all they’ve done all season long and would have Ranieri wondering what went wrong.
Leicester could have gone ahead in the 19th minute but for another fine Mignolet save, Kasper Schmichael cleared upfield but Lucas Leiva misjudged and put Vardy through, the seemingly angry forward miscues and made it easy for the Belgian in goal.
With the half hour mark knocking, Jamie Vardy, who was quite lucky to escape booking early on having caught Sadio Mane in a late tackle fiercely raised the curtain with a goal in the mound of his last season showings; poor marking left Liverpool vulnerable in the middle and Marc Albrighton sent the Liverpool defense on wild errands with a one touch layoff to the Leicester number 9, as always in the last season form, Vardy slotted past Mignolet for 1:0.
Engand coach , Gareth Southgate was watching from the stands, it’s down to the forward to prove his mettle and he did, with so much on his shoulders following rumors that he was part of the team that met the club owners to dismiss Ranieri, Vardy denied before kickoff and seemed to have taken the anger into the game and that was Leicester’s first league goal of 2017.
Leicester didn’t stop at that, they kept pegging Liverpool backwards and we’re almost caught on the counter but Schmeichel was up to it early to save at Coutinho’s feet, then disaster struck on Liverpool again; Marc Albrighton delivered a cross in and James Milner thought he’d cleared only for him to set Danny Drinkwater up for a fierce 25yard out strike, one that left Mignolet floundering.
After the restart, it was all Liverpool trying to comeback, all hopes were dashed on the hour mark when Riyad Mahrez combined beautifully with Christian Fuchs, the Austrian nutmegged Lallana before delivering an outrageous cross to the unmarked Vardy, his thumping header sent the ground into bedlam.
Leicester haven’t won since new year eve and they looked certain to end the drought despite the visitor’s late push. Kasper Schmeichel made strong saves from Can and Lallana but could do nothing about Coutinho’s low finish deep into the second half.
Liverpool failed to jump into the top four, hanging in fifth pending Manchester United’s outstanding. Another evidence to Liverpool’s a Robin Hood comparisons, but for the champions, seems the healing process has begun.