Sheffield United 1-4 Leicester: Demarai Gray shines as Foxes see off Blades
By Will Unwin
Last Updated: 22/08/17 11:09pm
Leicester City showed their Premier League class in a 4-1 win at Sheffield United to progress to the next round of the Carabao Cup.
Demarai Gray's individual effort set the tone for Leicester, who followed up the winger's opener with two more goals coming from the impressive Islam Sliman at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night.
Caolan Lavery reduced the deficit late on when his sliced shot from the right side deceived Ben Hamer, who could only palm the ball into his goal, but the result was never in doubt. Ahmed Musa added a fourth for Leicester from close range in injury-time to add a little bit of gloss to the result for Craig Shakspeare's side.
The openings were kept to a premium in the opening 45 minutes as neither team managed to dominate possession in a tight game. Slimani was the main threat for the visitors; the striker set team-mate Musa away in the 12th minute but the Nigerian took a poor first touch and ended up having to snatch at a shot from a tight angle, which hit the side netting.
Sheffield United: Eastwood (6), Baldock (6), O'Connell (7), Lundstram (6), Wright (7), Freeman (6), Lavery (7), Lafferty (6), Evans (5), Brooks (7), Carruthers (6)
Subs: Sharp (6), Basham (6), Coutts (6)
Leicester: Hamer (6), Amartey (6), Maguire (7), Fuchs (7), Chilwell (6), Musa (7), Ndidi (7), King (6), Gray (7), Ulloa (6), Slimani (8)
Subs: Mendy (6), Knight (6)
Man of the match: Islam Slimani
Sheffield United were almost gifted the lead when David Brooks' curling shot from the edge of the area caused problems for stand-in goalkeeper Hamer, who needed to pull the ball back from the goal-line after allowing the shot to go under him.
Youngster Gray used the chance to shine to his advantage with a fantastic individual goal. The winger collected the ball close to the halfway line, before running at the Blades' defence who backed off, allowing Gray into the box where he slipped the ball under Simon Eastwood.
Both managers made plenty of changes for this one. Ched Evans made his first start for Sheffield United since returning to the club in the summer. Leicester gave a rare outing to Ben Hamer in goal and selected Leonardo Ulloa and Islam Slimani as their attacking duo.
Eventually, Slimani found himself on the end of a clinical through ball from Andy King, allowing the Algerian to run through, round the goalkeeper and tap into an empty net.
Slimani would add a second to his personal tally soon after when he tapped the ball home when just a yard out from a Gray cross to the back post, as Leicester made their dominance known.
Sheffield United would get themselves on the scoresheet when Lavery sent the ball into the box late on, catching out Hamer, who failed to claw the ball away as it dipped powerfully in at his near post.
Musa got his reward for an evening of hard work in South Yorkshire when he smashed in a goal in injury-time to send Leicester easily into the next round.
Man of the Match - Islam Slimani
The Algerian striker looked a cut above the Championship opposition, barely breaking a sweat as he picked up two goals from close range and could have made more for his team-mates.
Slimani has been linked with the Leicester exit door but Shakespeare will be considering keeping him around now.
Chris Wilder: "A bit naive. A mad 15 minutes. We were well in the game but, from being in a great position, within five seconds Gray's scored and within minutes the game's done and dusted.
"We've been heavily punished and we don't deserve to go through to the next round."
Craig Shakespeare: "It was important to give the fringe players, or those who haven't played, some game time and when you do that you hope they'll respond in the right way. I thought the team responded really well.
"They're part of the squad and they carry on. We'll need everyone as we go along because it's a tough old season in the Premier League and whether it's a loss of form, a change of tactics or injuries, you have all that to contend with."
Sheffield United will host Derby in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday as they look to continue their promising start to the league campaign at Bramall Lane.
The Foxes face a tricky test away to Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday evening.