The post Claudio Ranieri era began with a flyer for Leicester City as they ran out 3-1 winners against a Liverpool side lacking in spirit and motivation at the King Power stadium on Monday night. Jamie Vardy scored a goal in each half and Danny Drinkwater’s long ranger ensured that Leicester got the three points at home. Philippe Coutinho got one back for the Reds but it was too little too late for the visitors.
Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet made some good saves to keep out the visitors’ early efforts initially but was left stranded when Vardy ran at him and finished at his near post after leaving defender Lucas Leiva flat-footed. It was Leicester’s first goal in the New Year in the Premier League. The crowd and atmosphere was deafening and Leicester doubled their lead through Danny Drinkwater’s terrific strike 10 minutes later.
The Reds hit back after going 1-0 down after playing some neat football and stringing a few passes together to cause Leicester a threat but Schmeichel and the hosts’ back line did a good job at thwarting out the Reds’ attacks.
After James Milner’s headed clearance found Drinkwater, the Leicester midfielder smashed a sweetly struck half volley into the bottom corner of the Liverpool net giving them a 2-0 advantage. They had now scored more goals than they did in eight games combined together before this match, Leicester were in dreamland, and echoes of ‘We’re staying in the Premier League’ were heard in measurable volumes inside the King Power.
Liverpool again attacked through Coutinho, who seemed to be the catalyst and only player threatening to unlock a solid Leicester defense, but Schmeichel was on hand to keep out the Brazilian’s effort form 20 yards out.
The second half began with Liverpool looking more determined and Sadio Mane had an effort blocked off by Wes Morgan, who showed such solidarity the last time Leicester were at the top of the league. Just 15 minutes after the restart, Leicester found themselves 3-0 up and were cruising, Jamie Vardy getting ahead of his marker to nod his side the three points. Christian Fuchs cut back on his right foot after being fed by Mahrez and his cross perfectly found Vardy, who was relived to rekindle his goal-scoring prowesses.
Schmeichel then made another key save to deny Lallana, who shot after neat link up play with Roberto Firmino as the King Power stadium was a sight to behold when their fans lit up the stands in the 65th minute in remembrance of Claudio Ranieri, their sacked manager, who led them to their fairy tale success story last season.
Liverpool got one back after Emre Can tip-toed his way through the Leicester half and found Coutinho who shot into the bottom corner after taking the ball in his stride, to give Jurgen Klopp’s men some hope of a comeback. But it was too late and Leicester hung on to a memorable win despite a nervy final quarter.
The win lifted them out of the relegation zone who had not won a game this year and the loss was reaching Liverpool to new heights of embarrassment, who are now struggling to play in Europe next season.