Cardiff 0-1 Leicester: Demarai Gray scores only goal as Claude Puel’s men rally together to put traumatic week behind them to claim all three points
- Leicester were left incensed after their appeals for a penalty were waved away in a frustrating first half
- Demarai Gray broke the deadlock after the break and celebrated by showing a shirt in tribute to late owner
- Jonny Evans missed a glorious chance to double their lead but it didn’t matter as Leicester ran out 1-0 winners
The fragility of life has been the focus of thoughts for Leicester City this week. Training has come secondary to talking.
That sense of somberness will take a long time to shift but back on the pitch, back where normality could briefly blossom, the ferocity of football took its grip.
For 90 minutes, that luminous yellow ball felt like the most important thing in the world.
Demarai Gray produced a smart finish from close range to seal all three points for Leicester against Cardiff
Emotion poured out from the whole Leicester team as Gray displayed a shirt in remembrance of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel even ran the length of the pitch to join in with the celebrations in front of their fans
Jonny Evans got his header at the back post all wrong and squandered a glorious chance to double Leicester’s advantage
MATCH FACTS, LIVE LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Cardiff (4-3-3): Etheridge 7; Manga 6, Morrison 6.5, Bamba 6, Bennett 7; Camarasa 7, Gunnarsson 6, Arter 6 (Ward 80′); Reid 6 (Hoilett 65′ 5), Paterson 6, Murphy 7 (Madine 85′)
Subs not used: Smithies, Cunningham, Damour, Harris
Booked: Arter, Hoilett
Manager: Neil Warnock 6
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel 7.5; Ricardo 7, Morgan 7.5, Maguire 6 (Evans 27′ 7), Chilwell 8; Ndidi 7, Mendy 7.5; Albrighton 7.5, Maddison 7 (Iborra 83′), Gray 7.5 (Simpson 71′ 6.5); Vardy 7
Subs not used: Iheanacho, Ward, Diabate, Fuchs
Scorers: Gray (55)
Booked: Pereira, Gray
Manager: Claude Puel 7
Referee: Lee Probert
Season at a glance
- Live tables
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Demarai Gray produced a smart finish from inside the box to seal all three points for Leicester. CLICK HERE to see more from Sportsmail’s brilliant MATCH ZONE feature.
It was there in the way Leicester appealed desperately for a first-half penalty that Lee Probert erroneously failed to award.
It was there in the way the whole team, Kasper Schmeichel included, ran to celebrate Demarai Gray’s excellent goal in the 55th minute.
Claude Puel said in advance the result would be inconsequential. He was showing his humanity. But Leicester’s players wanted a result here. They wanted to win this one.
Credit to them that they shook the cloud of grief from their minds and delivered a performance that was in parts defiant, composed, and creative.
Gray’s goal came from the latter category. Marc Albrighton freed Ben Chiwell down the left and Gray met the cross on the half-volley to sweep past Neil Etheridge. It was the perfect way to honour Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Moments later, in the 60th minute to coincide with the Leicester chairman’s age, away supporters sung ‘When You’re Smiling,’ the club anthem. It had certainly been a goal to please the soul.
Leicester City and Cardiff players and staff observe a minute silence in honour of the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Leicester City players and staff team huddle together in a show of solidarity before the game kick-offs on Saturday
Leicester goalkeeper Schmeichel races off of his goal line to beat Callum Paterson to the ball and relieve the danger
Marc Albrighton and Ricardo Pereira double up to stop Josh Murphy from advancing down the left flank
Cardiff defender Sean Morrison times his jump to perfection to slide in and dispossess Leicester striker Jamie Vardy
Cardiff were game participants. They were no patsies. Clearly Neil Warnock would not allow sympathy for opponents to affect the necessities of his own team. They pressured, but Leicester stood firm.
At the final whistle the players looked to the skies, roared with joy, and gathered for a collective gasp of emotion.
Form inevitably factored, but it does not seem coincidental that Puel picked a team full of individuals whose bond with Srivaddhanaprabha went back a long way.
Returning to the team were Wes Morgan, Jamie Vardy, and Gray, who were all part of the title triumph that created a deep well of special experiences from which closeness could grow.
Then there was Schmeichel starting in goal, seven days after distressing at the sight of the flames rising high from his chairman’s helicopter wreckage. The inclusion of Albrighton, who quietly visited the memorial outside the King Power Stadium on Wednesday, and Chilwell, a graduate from Leicester’s academy, added to the sense that this was a group carrying acute grief.
Paterson tries to control the ball with his head and advance into the box under pressure from Harry Maguire
Leicester defender Maguire receives treatment from a physio during the first half after picking up an injury
Maguire (left) comes off with a knock and gets replaced by Jonny Evans during the match at the Cardiff City Stadium
Morgan articulated the feelings of his side before the game. ‘The lads have been devastated,’ he said. ‘But we know the wishes of the chairman. He would want us to get out there on the pitch and try our best.
‘We’ve had to hold in our feelings and gather ourselves for this game. In a weird sense, when we are out on the pitch it is a bit of a distraction. As long as we can keep our emotions in check I’m sure we can do the chairman proud.
‘He was a wonderful man, had a big, big heart, was a caring, thoughtful person who would do anything for anybody. He will be someone who is sorely missed, not just at Leicester City but on this earth.’
Leicester’s players had been applauded into the stadium by Cardiff fans and then again when they went to the corner to finish their warm-up. It made for a unique pre-match atmosphere.
The minute’s silence was observed without a single sound, and with the entirety of Leicester’s squad and coaching staff on the pitch around the semi-circle. Morgan then led the largest and most impassioned huddle a football field has surely ever seen.
‘Champions of England, you made us sing that,’ was the chant from the away end, where almost everybody was wearing the free t-shirt given out at the turnstiles in tribute to the man they call The Boss.
Cardiff striker Bobby Reid takes aim at goal but fires the ball wide of the target during the first half of Saturday’s match
Demarai Gray gets surrounded by Cardiff players as he looks to wriggle free and start a counter attack for Leicester
Leicester’s James Maddison tries to use his arm to fend off the pressure from his opposite number Harry Arter
Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge dives to his left but watched the ball fizz past him and over the crossbar
Then a competitive football match broke out. Referee Probert reprimanded Harry Maguire for contesting a decision too vociferously, and the Cardiff fans called angrily for a red card when the Leicester defender tugged back Callum Paterson when chasing a high ball.
Probert shook his finger but in the incident Maguire fell awkwardly, his right knee jarring in the turf, and despite trying to carry on he was eventually replaced by Jonny Evans, anguish etched on his face.
Tribalism in the stands returned. Cardiff’s fans mocked Maguire’s exit by giving a sarcastic airing to ‘Football’s Coming Home’ and Leicester supporters responded by singing the national anthem.
As far as the action Victor Camarasa struck the bar with a thunderous free-kick, then Wilfred Ndidi got his header from James Maddison’s corner all wrong. A shot by Nampalys Mendy deflected into the side-netting.
Maddison shoots at goal from close range but somehow his effort is blocked on the line to keep the score goalless
The Leicester players are incensed after the referee waves away their penalty appeals for a handball and gives a corner
Cardiff defender Sol Bamba tries a speculative overhead kick but gets it all wrong and fires it well over the crossbar
Vardy almost doubles Leicester’s lead late on in the second half but his left-footed effort just goes wide of the post
Then on the stroke of half-time Probert made a fundamental error. Etheridge only parried Ricardo Pereira’s shot and the loose ball fell to Vardy, who struck a finish that was deflected onto the bar and over by Sol Bamba’s outstretched arm.
Nearly all of Leicester’s outfield players appealed instantly but Probert signaled for a corner. It was a bad mistake.
Cardiff had the first chance of the second half when Josh Murhy ran through but saw his effort saved by Schmeichel.
Soon after Leicester scored and Gray removed his shirt to reveal the message: For Khun Vichai. Immediately Probert bowed his head. He had clearly expected such a scene and showed Gray the yellow card once celebrations were over. Did he have to? The majority would surely have accepted the bending of a disputed rule on this occasion.
Vardy could have added gloss to the score when put clear by Ndidi but Etheridge spread his body well. It did not matter. Leicester had the victory for Vichai.
Source: Read Full Article