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Leicester City vs Sheffield United. Premier League.

The King Power Stadium.

Leicester City 2

  • Ayoze Pérez (29th minute)
  • D Gray (79th minute)

Sheffield United 0

    Leicester 2-0 Sheffield United: Foxes reignite Champions League hopes with victory

    Report and free match highlights as 19-year-old Luke Thomas assists on his senior Leicester debut

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    FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leicester's win against Sheffield United in the Premier League

    Leicester reignited their hopes for a Champions League place with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United, who themselves missed the chance to go into sixth.

    The Foxes needed a reaction after a disastrous second-half collapse against Bournemouth on Sunday and looked much improved from the get-go, with Ayoze Perez turning home from teenage debutant Luke Thomas' cross in the 29th minute.

    Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson made a string of second-half saves but was unable to keep out substitute Demarai Gray (79), who hit a low effort home to see Leicester pull three points clear of Manchester United in fifth ahead of their game against Crystal Palace later on Thursday.

    The race to qualify for the Champions League is going down to the wire

    Sheffield United could only muster one shot on target at the King Power Stadium and missed their own chance to take a step towards European football next season. They remain in eighth on 54 points with two games to play, one point behind Tottenham and two behind Wolves in seventh and sixth respectively.

    How Leicester blunted the Blades

    Leicester celebrate after Ayoze Perez puts them ahead against Sheffield United
    Image: Leicester celebrate after Ayoze Perez puts them ahead against Sheffield United

    Both sides had a sight of goal in the opening 15 minutes - David McGoldrick and Perez both sending efforts flying over the crossbar - but it was Jamie Vardy who went the closest. James Justin burst down the right flank before picking out the striker, but he was initially blocked by Chris Basham. However, when Vardy did manage to get his shot away, he was thwarted by the outstretched foot of Henderson.

    The Sheffield United goalkeeper showed superb anticipation again in the 24th minute as he saved twice in quick succession. Firstly, he denied Perez at the near post as his hammered effort only found the body of Henderson before Youri Tielemans tried to net the rebound, but the England international was there to block once again.

    Player ratings

    Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Justin (7), Evans (7), Morgan (7), Bennett (7), Thomas (7), Ndidi (7), Tielemans (8), Barnes (7), Perez (7), Vardy (8).

    Subs used: Choudhury (6), Gray (7).

    Sheffield United: Henderson (7), Basham (6), Egan (7), O’Connell (7), Baldock (6), Berge (6), Norwood (7), Osborn (7), Stevens (7), McBurnie (5), McGoldrick (6).

    Subs used: Lundstrum (6), Mousset (6), Fleck (6), Sharp (5).

    Man of the match: Jamie Vardy.

    Leicester eventually made their first-half pressure count just before the half-an-hour mark. 19-year-old Thomas slotted seamlessly into the side on his debut and played a neat square pass to pick out Perez in space at the top of the area. The Spaniard then sent a toe-poked effort through the Sheffield United defence and past Henderson, whose leaping save could not keep the effort out.

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    Chris Wilder had his tactics board out during the first half as the Blades failed to register a shot on target and made three changes at the break with John Lundstrum, John Fleck and Lys Mousset coming on.

    Team news

    • Leicester made four changes with Caglar Soyuncu, Kelechi Iheanacho, Marc Albrighton and Christian Fuchs missing out. They were replaced by club captain Wes Morgan, Ryan Bennett, Harvey Barnes and 19-year-old Luke Thomas, who earned his first Leicester start.
    • Sheffield United named same XI with John Fleck returning to the bench after struggling with a groin injury.

    But it was Leicester who continued to go close with Premier League top scorer Vardy finding the post six minutes after the restart. It was a perfect slotted pass from Tielemans for the striker to run on to, getting in between the two Blades centre-backs. However, with John Egan hot on his tail, he could only hammer the upright with his fierce shot.

    Sheffield United had Henderson to thank again not long after as he saved twice from Harvey Barnes. Vardy collected a wonderful ball over the top from Ryan Bennett, poking it into the path of the on-running Barnes. The midfielder then drove into the area but after a little shove from Jack O'Connell put him off, he could only send his shot into the legs of Henderson. It was a similar story a few minutes later with Vardy sending him through again, but the second effort had less direction as the Blades goalkeeper made another stop.

    The Blades finally had a sight of goal in the 64th minute and it was almost another Leicester own goal. Egan nodded a corner back into the throng of players, with Morgan sending it goalwards with an outstretched leg and forcing a leaping save from Kasper Schmeichel, who had been a bystander for much of the game. Egan then tried to net the loose ball on a tight angle, but Morgan scrambled back to block behind for a corner.

    Demarai Gray celebrates scoring for Leicester vs Sheff Utd
    Image: Demarai Gray celebrates after adding a late second for Leicester

    After another save from Henderson in the 74th minute - denying Tielemans this time - Leicester finally added their second five minutes later. Vardy deserved an assist after numerous set-ups for his team-mates and it was substitute Gray who finished with a low, angled shot from a squared pass to round off an important victory for Leicester, winning for just the second time since the restart.

    Man of the match - Jamie Vardy

    The Premier League's top scorer may not have got himself on the scoresheet, but he tried his absolute best to make sure a team-mate would do. He made five key passes - the highest of any player on the pitch - and set up numerous chances for Barnes and Tielemans in the second half especially.

    He more than deserved the assist for Gray's goal with another superb set-up and let's not forget, he also had a few sights of goal himself, including a smashed effort off the post. Vardy and Leicester needed that bounce back performance and got the job done against a fellow European rival.

    What the managers said

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    Brendan Rodgers says his side produced an excellent display in their 2-0 win over Sheffield United, and reserved special words for debutant Luke Thomas

    Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: "I thought we were brilliant tonight. Sheffield United deserve so much credit for how they work and how Chris has got them playing this season but I thought we were outstanding in all facets of the game.

    "I think for us, it's just the consistency. We've played well in the games we've played since we came back but we haven't been consistent enough but tonight we were able to do that. We played the first half really well and then we were very concentrated.

    "The thing I look at with young players is 'do they have the temperament?' And you've just seen how Luke [Thomas] served the ball in. He wasn't phased and if there were 100,000 [people in the stadium], he would be just the same. He's got incredible composure, it's his first game at first-team level against a really good team and he has the awareness and the view of the game to disguise a pass inside.

    "He lasted so well. Firstly he defends, for someone so slight at the moment, he's aggressive, he's tenacious, but he can pass the ball and that's always important for a player that plays for me.

    "We set out at the start of the season with a huge effort to try and qualify for European football, which was always going to be a big ask, but the result tonight gives us the second highest finish in Leicester's Premier League history and now we've got two more games to see if we can create some more history. The players are so happy but they'll be ready now for Sunday."

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    Chris Wilder says his Sheffield United were distinctly second best in their 2-0 defeat to Leicester and the only person to come out with any credit was goalkeeper Dean Henderson

    Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: "We've taken some enormous steps forward this season, especially recently, but we've taken a massive step backwards. We never deserved anything from the game, the goalkeeper has kept us in it and I think we're delighted it took them until the 79th minute to really clinch the game.

    "But we were off of it from the first moment to the 90th and there's no excuse from our point of view. Technically, we were very poor and we were physically out-fought. We've done a job on a couple of teams recently but their fight was bigger than ours, they wanted the result more than us and they deservedly got it.

    David McGoldrick tries to get away from Wilfred Ndidi during Leicester vs Sheffield United
    Image: David McGoldrick tries to get away from Wilfred Ndidi at the King Power Stadium

    "There's no blame on anything. Everybody has to go again. From the first minute, we gave the ball away and made some really poor decisions. They were sharper, quicker in thought and in action. We've helped them get themselves going again and we needed to be a lot better today to give them any problems.

    "I thought it was quite comfortable for Brendan and his team, they've got a few injuries but I thought the spirit of their group was better than bigger than ours. When you've got that quality in the game tonight, there's only going to be one winner."

    Opta stats

    • Leicester have won back-to-back home league games without conceding in each victory for the first time since January 2018, while this is the first time they have kept a clean sheet in four straight home league matches since February 2016 during their title-winning campaign under Claudio Ranieri.
    • Leicester have completed a league double over Sheffield United for the first time since the 1928-29 campaign.
    • Leicester's Luke Thomas (19y 36d) was the youngest English player to assist a goal on his Premier League debut since Marcus Rashford for Manchester United in February 2016 (18y 120d), and was the 15th English teenager to do so overall.

    What's next?

    Live Renault Super Sunday

    Leicester's push for European football does not get any easier in their final two games, facing Tottenham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 4pm) before hosting Manchester United on the final day of the season (kick-off 4pm).

    For Sheffield United, they play Everton on Monday (kick-off 6pm) before an away trip to Southampton on Sunday July 26 (kick-off 4pm).

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