Leicester start life after Ranieri with victory over Liverpool

Leicester started life after Claudio Ranieri with their first win of 2017, beating Liverpool 3-1 at the King Power stadium.

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Jamie Vardy opened the scoring, latching onto a through ball and slotting home, before a superb volley from Danny Drinkwater gave them a 2-0 lead at half-time.

Vardy added a third after the break and Phillipe Coutinho grabbed a consolation goal for Liverpool as the Foxes held on for a valuable three points that saw them move out of the relegation zone.

Craig Shakespeare made one change to the squad Ranieri named in his final fixture against Sevilla, with Ahmed Musa being replaced by Shinji Okazaki. Israel Slimani (groin) and Leonardo Ulloa (thigh) both passed late fitness tests and were included on the bench.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson missed the encounter with a foot injury, whilst Daniel Sturridge missesd out through illness. Emre Can replaced Henderson in midfielder, with youngsters Ben Woodburn and Kevin Stewart coming in on the bench. With Dejan Lovren still injured, Lucas continued at centre back

Leicester started on the front foot, pressuring Liverpool’s zonal marking from a series of early corners, before a headed effort from Okazaki forced a good save from Mignolet.

Klopp’s men somewhat grew into the first-half and began to control possession, passing the ball fluently at times but without any real penetration. Speculative balls were not finding red shirts in the box and Phillipe Coutinho was at times guilty of taking too many touches.

So much of the Foxes’ success last season emanated from hitting Vardy with balls into space and he had the game’s first real chance from a similar move, bringing a long ball under control neatly and beating his marker before sending his volley straight into the legs of Mignolet from close range.

He was to get a second opportunity soon after and this time he converted it to end Leicester’s Premier League goal drought. Mark Albrighton latched onto a misplaced pass from Gigi Wijnaldum on the half-way line, before finding Vardy with an early ball straight through the heart of Liverpool’s defence. The England striker pounced, racing into the box before getting his head up and slipping the ball clinically past Mignolet.

Liverpool were struggling and soon found themselves two down, with a spectacular effort from Danny Drinkwater who let James Milner’s headed clearance bounce before volleying it straight into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

The Reds were struggling now and looked poor in possession. Leicester were far more energetic, winning the vast majority of second balls, whilst their opponents looked disjointed, Firminho an isolated figure with the quality of final ball very poor indeed. Can had a speculative effort from range tipped away by Casper Schmeichal but Klopp’s side were a pale shadow of the team that beat Spurs last time out.

Liverpool changed their shape at half-time, moving Can back to player alongside Joel Matip and Lucas in a back three, with Nathaniel Clyne and Milner playing more attacking roles at wing back.

This didn’t stop Vardy getting in behind though. A long ball deceived Can and set the England striker free down the wing. He could only manage a misplaced cross but Riyad Mahrez kept the ball alive and played a neat interchange of passes with Christian Fuchs. The Austrian then cut back onto his right foot and delivered the ball towards Vardy, who got across Can and headed home to put Leicester three in front.

Couthino pulled one back for Liverpool from their first real fluent move of the match. Can drove forward with the ball, linking up with substitute Alberto Moreno, before continuing his run and finding Coutinho. The Brazilian feinted to shoot and struck the ball with the inside of his right foot, finding the left corner of the Leicester net.

Liverpool probed for a second goal but couldn’t find a way past the organised defensive unit of Leicester, who still looked threatening on the counter-attack. Origi stung the palms of Schmechiel with a low shot, with Drinkwater sending an effort just over the bar for the hosts.

Ultimately, it was a night when Leicester look re-energised. The delivery into Vardy was perhaps the best it had been all season and defensively, Leicester looked organised and never likely to relinquish their lead. Liverpool were woeful for large periods and their poor form against teams in the bottom half continues. A run of just two wins in 12 has seen their push for the title end and if Klopp doesn’t spark an upturn in results, they may well be cut adrift of the Champions League places.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Ndidi, Mahrez (Gray, 79), Okazaki (Amartey, 69), Albrighton (Chilwell, 90+1), Vardy

Unused Subs: King, Amartey, Slimani, Zieler, Ulloa

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lucas (Woodburn, 83), Milner, Lallana (Origi, 66), Can, Wijnaldum, Mane (Moreno, 66), Firmino, Couthinho

Unused Subs: Karius, Klaven, Stewart, Alexander-Arnold

Referee: Michael Oliver

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