Match report as Leicester were held to a 0-0 draw in Prague; Brendan Rodgers' side not at their fluent best as Slavia Prague kept a clean sheet; result leaves Leicester with plenty of work still to do in next week's second leg at the King Power Stadium
Friday 19 February 2021 05:59, UK
Leicester were held to a 0-0 draw by Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash at the Sinobo Stadium in Prague.
The Premier League side created the better chances in the first half with Harvey Barnes, who was denied by goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, the closest to opening the scoring. Barnes also had penalty claims waved away after going down under a challenge from Tomas Holes.
After the break, Slavia Prague upped the tempo, but clear-cut chances were few and far between for the hosts. The game started to open up in the closing stages and Barnes was inches away from picking out an unmarked Kelechi Iheanacho, who was brought on for Jamie Vardy, as the visitors went in search of a winner.
However, Leicester were left frustrated as the hosts held on to leave Brendan Rodgers' side with plenty of work still to do in the second leg, which takes place at the King Power Stadium next Thursday.
Leicester began the game well as Marc Albrighton shot wide and James Maddison fired over inside the opening four minutes.
Arguably the best chance of the game came five minutes later when Youri Tielemans' pass released Barnes in behind Alexander Bah and the winger surged into the box only to be denied by Kolar from close range.
At the other end, Slavia Prague threatened on the break and they created some half chances with Bah heading the best of them wide at the far post.
Slavia Prague: Kolar (7), Bah (7), Kudela (7), Zima (7), Boril (6), Sima (7), Stanciu (7), Holes (6), Provod (7), Olayinka (7), Kuchta (6).
Subs: Hromada (6), Traore (6), Masopust (6), Lingr (n/a).
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Amartey (7), Evans (7), Soyuncu (6), Thomas (6), Ndidi (7), Tielemans (7), Maddison (7), Albrighton (6), Barnes (8), Vardy (6).
Subs: Under (6), Iheanacho (6), Choudhury (n/a).
Man of the match: Harvey Barnes.
Leicester continued to plug away as Barnes hooked wide before having penalty claims waved away by Italian referee Marco Guida, while Tielemans dragged wide just before the break.
After the break Rodgers' men lost their momentum.
The hosts were firmly on the front foot as Kasper Schmeichel gathered Nicolae Stanciu's free-kick, before he tipped the Romania international's 25-yard drive over the crossbar.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers named a strong side for the Foxes' Europa League trip to Slavia Prague.
Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans started in the first leg of the last-32 tie.
Daniel Amartey was named at right-back after James Justin's knee injury and Ricardo Pereira not travelling.
Vardy, who struggled to get into the game, was replaced by Iheanacho just after the hour as Leicester looked to wrestle back some initiative.
However, the striker was immediately booked after catching Jakub Hromada with his arm and he will now be suspended for next week's second leg.
James Maddison then came off for Hamza Choudhury 12 minutes later as Rodgers looked to ensure Leicester held firm, but they almost snuck a victory right at the death, but Barnes' cross was just out of the reach of an unmarked Iheanacho at the far post.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: "I was really pleased from a defensive perspective. We kept them reasonably quiet. They had one opportunity at the back post in the first half but our goalkeeper and back four were strong. The pitch was heavy and it was a little bit of man-marking. I was delighted with the spirit and we were solid away from home. Hopefully it will be the case next week [we score goals at home].
"Jamie Vardy isn't always involved a great deal. He's a special player that relies on our midfield and wide players to get on the ball as he plays on the last line. He just needs those chances and that's why he's such a great striker. He got a good hour in his legs and will be fresh for the weekend.
"I thought the officials were very poor, I have to say. I don't comment on them much as it's a very difficult job but some of the decisions... It was clear it wasn't [an elbow from Kelechi Iheanacho for the yellow card] They were challenging for the ball. Overall, I didn't think it was a good night for them to be honest.
"When you come away it's important you defend well. You have to stay strong and be aggressive. We kept a clean sheet and we will look to the second leg. Now we have had a feel for them we can go away and look at where we can get through to the next round."
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has never reached the last 16 of the Europa League after four attempts with Liverpool and Celtic.
Leicester are back on Sky Sports on Sunday as they travel to Aston Villa; kick-off 2pm. Meanwhile, Slavia Prague travel to Teplice in the Czech First League, also on Sunday.
The pair will then meet again at the King Power Stadium for the return leg next Thursday.