Leicester got the win they craved over Burnley to mark the anniversary of former owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s death on an emotional day at the King Power Stadium.
Burnley thought they had equalised through Chris Wood eight minutes from time but his effort was controversially ruled out by the video assistant referee (VAR), which ruled the striker had accidentally tripped Jonny Evans before the ball entered the net.
It meant Leicester were able to celebrate victory after goals from Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans had overturned Wood’s 26th-minute header.
It was a fitting result on a day when Leicester honoured Vichai, who was killed on 27 October last year when his helicopter crashed shortly after take-off close to a car park by the stadium.
Earlier, thousands of fans took part in a ‘Walk for Vichai’ and the stadium itself turned white as they wore scarves bearing the logo ‘Making the Impossible Possible’ which were given to them after entering the stadium.
Vichai’s son ‘Top’, who is now responsible for running the club, was dignified throughout the game, shaking hands with numerous well-wishers before kick-off. He did allow himself to punch the air when Tielemans’ 74th-minute shot powered into the roof of the net.
As the players left the field, Top put his hands together in prayer and pointed to the sky.
Subdued day for Maddison
It has been a strange couple of weeks for James Maddison after being selected for the England squad by Gareth Southgate. After joining up with the national team, he spoke about being a team player and not having a divine right to play international football. Two days later he had left the squad because of a virus. Twenty-four hours after that he was pictured in a casino.
In defending his player, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers accepted Maddison “will make better decisions in his life”.
The 22-year-old evidently still has some maturing to do but on the field, he is a major threat. The former Norwich man came close to putting Leicester in front when he arrowed a shot through a crowded penalty area, only for Ben Mee to turn it away.
Immediately after the break, Maddison was not far away after stepping inside onto a pass from Tielemens on the edge of the box.
It was not his most productive day, though, and he appeared to have taken a knock before he was replaced by Dennis Praet in the 73rd minute, just before Leicester’s winner.
Burnley’s long wait for top-flight win at Leicester goes on
It seemed fitting Burnley should be the visitors on the day Leicester celebrated Vichai’s life, for they were also the first team to play here after his death.
That goalless draw extended the Clarets’ wait for a top-flight win at Leicester to 51 years.
For almost 20 minutes, they looked to have a decent shot at ending that barren streak.
Wood is in a rich vein of form. There is nothing subtle about the New Zealander, who will doubtless be telling a few of his English team-mates they have no chance of reaching the Rugby World Cup final next week.
But when the excellent Dwight McNeil curled over a cross from the right, Wood climbed between Evans and Caglar Soyuncu at the far post and sent his header so high into the Leicester goal that, even at full stretch, Kasper Schmeichel was unable to claw it out.
It was Wood’s fourth goal in five games and put Burnley fourth in the ‘as it stands’ table. VAR denied him a fifth eight minutes from time, with Sean Dyche incredulous that the striker’s ‘equaliser’ should be ruled out for an accidental foul by Wood on Evans, who felt he would have cleared the ball before it had gone in.
Vardy silences Burnley fans
It might be regarded as trivial in the scheme of things but the social media spat between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy had plenty of people engrossed, judging by the millions who commented on it.
With their team winning and life looking good, the Burnley fans decided it was time to enter the debate. After an initial “Rooney” chant failed to catch on, they came up with “Jamie Vardy, your wife is a grass”.
It was amusing but they must have known it had the potential to come back and haunt them.
So it proved as Vardy rose to head home Harvey Barnes’ cross a minute before half-time. Vardy was virtually the length of the pitch away but he looked directly at the corner housing the Burnley fans and cupped his ears in celebration.
Man of the match – Youri Tielemans (Leicester)
‘Key moment went against us’ – what the managers said
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: “We were keen to make it a celebration. The supporters were incredible. We needed to tap into that emotion, we didn’t in the first half but we were much more aggressive after half-time. Today they made him [Vichai] proud in fighting for the result.
“At Liverpool VAR went against us and cost us. From Sean’s [Dyche] point of view, it will be harsh. There’s an angle where you can see he clips Jonny Evans – the officials have time to asses from every angle and they decided it was a goal.
“Unfortunately it’s something you accept as part of the game. I’m proud of how we won the game today – a tough game, an emotional game.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: “I’m very disappointed. I’m a big fan of VAR but it has to be used more wisely than that. Chris Wood only has eyes for the ball and the defender isn’t getting it in a million years. The referee doesn’t even use the screen, he has got to come and look at that and I’d be surprised if he gave it.
“There is contact but we’re talking about people who have been around the game long enough to know what body language means. If you’re going to trip someone there’s that little look and then you clip someone. Hopefully this is an incident that we can learn from.
“We do know there are going to be decisions that are so difficult to decide. We know that, but I don’t think that was difficult today. Jonny Evans was never going to get that. The key moment has gone against us.”
Rodgers continues perfect Burnley record – the stats
- Brendan Rodgers has won all four of his home league matches against Burnley as a manager, winning with four different clubs – Watford in 2009, Swansea in 2010, Liverpool in 2015 and Leicester.
- Leicester have won four consecutive home Premier League matches for the first time since winning five in a row in May 2017.
- Rodgers has won 21 of his past 24 home league matches as manager while at Celtic and Leicester, losing once.
- Since Rodgers’ first Premier League game in charge of Leicester on 3 March, Jamie Vardy has scored 15 Premier League goals – two more than any other player.
- At 21 years and 314 days, Leicester’s Harvey Barnes became the second-youngest player to provide two assists in a Premier League game for the Foxes, behind only Emile Heskey in May 1998 against West Ham.
- This was Burnley’s 100th away Premier League match, but they have won just 16 of those 100 games. Only West Brom (12) have won fewer in their first 100 away games in the competition.
- Six of Dwight McNeill’s eight Premier League assists have been provided for Chris Wood, with all of those goals coming in 2019.
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