Leicester 1-2 Chelsea: N'Golo Kante the unlikely goal scoring hero for Antonio Conte's men
By Lewis Jones
Last Updated: 10/09/17 7:08am
N'Golo Kante was at his destructive best as he returned to haunt Leicester City by scoring in a 2-1 win for Chelsea on Saturday.
Much of the pre-match talk centred on Danny Drinkwater's immediate return to the King Power as a Chelsea player, but he was an unused substitute as Kante took centre stage.
The former Foxes star, who spearheaded their charge to the Premier League title in 2016, fired home from 30 yards (50) after Alvaro Morata (41) had given Chelsea a first-half lead.
The club-record £60m signing from Real Madrid takes his season tally to three and has now scored 14 goals in his last 16 appearances for club and country.
Jamie Vardy netted from the penalty spot (61) but it was not enough to stop Chelsea making it three wins on the spin in the Premier League.
Home Team: Schmeichel (6), Simpson (6), Morgan (6), Maguire (6), Fuchs (6), Albrighton (6), Ndidi (6), James (6), Mahrez (6), Vardy (6), Slimani (6)
Subs: Gray (6), King (6)
Away Team: Courtois (6), Azpilicueta (8), Luiz (7), Rudiger (7), Moses (7), Fabregas (7), Kante (8), Alonso (7), Bakayoko (7), Morata (7), Pedro (7)
Subs: Zappacosta (6), Willian (7), Hazard (6)
Man of the match: N'Golo Kante
Morata had spent most of the first half being thwarted by Leicester skipper Wes Morgan, who made three fantastic clearances to deny the Spaniard.
However, Chelsea kept feeding the striker and he opened the scoring on 41 minutes - just 45 seconds after Islam Slimani had been denied by Thibaut Courtois after a fantastic counter-attacking move.
The goal was very much made in Spain with Cesar Azpilicueta whipping in a sensational delivery from the left and Morata meeting it with a firm downward header.
Leicester's midfield might have been forgiven when they allowed Kante - who scored only one goal during his time with Leicester - room to shoot from 30 yards just after the break. But the Frenchman caught the effort with power and precision as the ball slipped past Kasper Schmeichel into the bottom corner.
Leicester made one change from the defeat at Manchester United with Islam Slimani replacing Shinji Okazaki. He partnered Jamie Vardy up front who was making his 200th league appearance. There was just one change for Chelsea too, with Tiemoué Bakayoko replacing Wilian. New signings Davide Zappacosta and Danny Drinkwater – along with Eden Hazard – featured among the substitutes.
The platform looked set for Antonio Conte's men to punish Leicester on the counter attack, but it was the hosts that grabbed the initiative back on 61 minutes.
Courtois was caught napping by Vardy in the area, who came on his blindside to beat him to a loose ball. The Leicester striker hit the deck under slight contact and dusted himself off to fire home from the spot on his 200th league appearance.
Despite the best efforts of Riyad Mahrez, Leicester rarely looked capable of finding the equaliser against a well organised Chelsea back five. In fact, it was the visitors that came closest late on with substitute Willian curling an effort narrowly wide before being denied by Schmeichel.
Conte: "I think we were in total control of the game, scored the first goal, the second goal. We conceded to a counter-attack when we lost the ball for the penalty, and after they tried to put some pressure on, but we created many chances to improve the scoreline."
Craig Shakespeare: "Performance-wise thought it was okay, looking at the commitment and endeavour. History tells you Chelsea may go on and win by three or four but we showed a lot of character and resilience."
- Chelsea recorded their first away Premier League victory in the month of September since 2012 versus Arsenal (D4 L3 before today).
- Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Jamie Vardy has won more penalties in the Premier League than any other player (11).
- Only Andrea Belotti (10) has scored more headed league goals in Europe's big five divisions since August 2016 than Alvaro Morata (9).
- Only Diego Costa (7) and Cesc Fabregas (6) had more goal involvements within their first four PL apps for Chelsea than Morata (5 - level with Eden Hazard).
Man of the match - N'Golo Kante
Few Leicester fans would begrudge Kante his moment in the sun back at the King Power. He was up to his usual wrecking-ball tricks in the Chelsea midfield, completely negating any service into Jamie Vardy's feet. But what stood him out from the rest in a solid team performance from the champions was his well struck goal which proved vital in the circumstances. Kante was scoring just his third Premier League goal of his career, having also netted against Manchester United (twice) and Watford in November 2015.
Chelsea start their Champions League campaign on Tuesday with a home clash with Qarabag FK while Leicester have a trip to Premier League new boys Huddersfield next Saturday.