Soccer

Leicester outclass Chelsea to go top and leave Frank Lampard under fire

Leicester celebrate taking the lead

He can wish that maiden win came rather earlier. Chelsea helped cost Rodgers the title in his Liverpool days. Then his holding midfielder, Steven Gerrard, was guilty of an infamous slip. Fast forward seven years and his current anchorman, Wilfred Ndidi, made the right kind of impact, cracking Leicester ahead with his first goal in 15 months. 

This was another illustration of Leicester’s prowess in the transfer market – Wesley Fofana’s precocious performance suggested he is one of the signings of the summer – and Chelsea have benefited from their capacity to unearth defensive midfielders. While injury denied N’Golo Kante a reunion with old employers, the man who emerged as his spiritual successor started, starred and scored.

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Ndidi, the Fox just outside the box, crashed his shot in off the inside of the post with a satisfying thump. Relief, perhaps, for Harvey Barnes, who had taken an air shot when he had a clearer chance, inadvertently allowing the ball to go to Ndidi, but an indictment of Chelsea. They had been caught out by a short corner routine involving Maddison and Albrighton; this felt a flaw Leicester’s scouts had noticed in Chelsea’s set-piece defending.

Wilfred Ndidi opens the scoring

Leicester brimmed with verve and ambition. Maddison rattled the bar from distance. Edouard Mendy just about clawed a Jamie Vardy chip away after the striker sprang the offside trap. Later he denied Youri Tielemans when Vardy turned provider. Chelsea, once again, were cut apart.

At the other end, Kasper Schmeichel tipped Reece James’ shot over and Callum Hudson-Odoi shot when he should have crossed. And yet, wretched as Chelsea were, they almost levelled. Instead the prospect of 1-1 became the reality of 2-0 in a pivotal minute. VAR denied Chelsea a penalty, determining Jonny Evans’ foul on Christian Pulisic was just outside the area when Craig Pawson had initially ruled it was in. Mason Mount’s resulting free kick cleared the bar, Schmeichel’s subsequent goal kick led to Albrighton providing his second defence-splitting pass of the night and Maddison steered a shot over Mendy. Cue another socially-distanced celebration as Lampard’s vigil on the touchline looked lonelier and lonelier.

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