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Leicester City FC

Leicester City FC

Leicester became the first team in English football to score a goal via a VAR decision as they overcame Fleetwood 2-0 in their FA Cup replay.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored in each half but it was his strike 13 minutes from time that required the intervention of the video assistant referee.

Referee Jonathan Moss asked to check if the striker was offside before finishing off Riyah Mehrez’s lovely reverse pass.

Replays showed Iheanacho was onside when the ball was played and the goal stood to see Leicester progress to a fourth-round tie away at Peterborough.

The Foxes made eight changes to the side that started the goalless Premier League draw at Chelsea on Saturday, although Mahrez was retained by manager Claude Puel.

Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler surprisingly decided to rest leading scorer Devante Cole, with the 12-goal forward only among the substitutes.

As expected, Leicester dominated possession but their passing often lacked the tempo to trouble a well-organised Fleetwood team who were largely able to keep their opponents at arm’s length.

It took until the midway point of the first half for a shot on target but it came from the League One team. Eldin Jakupovic smothered a tame effort from Conor McAleny, who then brought a fine save from the Leicester goalkeeper with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Mahrez clipped the outside of a post with a free kick but it was Fleetwood who were looking the most likely to score and Jakupovic was worked again after 37 minutes, getting fingertips on the ball to help a Kyle Dempsey shot over the crossbar.

It was a surprise when Leicester went ahead two minutes before half-time and the goal came from nothing. Christian Fuchs knocked a long pass down the line and the ball broke to Islam Slimani who played in Iheanacho.

A lovely first touch enabled him to run through one-on-one with Chris Neal and he coolly slid his finish beneath the advancing goalkeeper.

It was not only Leicester’s first shot on target of the evening, but the Premier League club’s first of the entire tie including the goalless draw at Highbury 10 days ago.

Slimani might have extended the lead at the start of the second half but he snatched at his chance and put the ball wide.

Iheanacho twice had the ball in the net during the second half. His first effort was rightly ruled out but on the second occasion after 77 minutes — when the flag again went up, Moss consulted with the video assistant referee — it was 2-0 to Leicester.

Jamie Vardy came on as a substitute against his former club with 10 minutes remaining, bringing applause from both sets of supporters as Leicester comfortably saw out the tie.

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Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

A tired-looking Leicester City slumped to defeat against Watford after taking the lead against Watford thanks to a Riyad Mahrez header.

But who, if anyone, impressed on the defeat and who did not? Here are our ratings…

Kasper Schmeichel: Will feel disappointed to be beaten from such an acute angle. Rating 6/10

Aleksandar Dragovic: Made his Premier League debut at right back and found it tough. 5

Wes Morgan: As a collective City must improve their defending of set-pieces and the skipper must play his part. 6

Harry Maguire: Booked very early on and had to be careful. Can switch off at set-pieces. 6

Ben Chilwell: Caused Janmaat loads of problems in the first half with his marauding runs from full-back, but defensively had some wobbly moments. 6

Andy King: Did a composed, controlled job in midfield. 6

Wilfred Ndidi: Time and again he got his foot in to win the ball back. Combative. 6

Riyad Mahrez: Kept up his excellent scoring record at Vicarage Road. 6

Shinji Okazaki: Didn’t do a lot wrong. Had one header tipped over the bar early on. 6

Marc Albrighton: Didn’t deserve to be on the losing team. Was at the heart of everything positive about City. 7

Jamie Vardy: Had a great chance to opening the scoring but he was uncharacteristically off target. 6

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Riyad Mahrez in action with Stephen Ward

Riyad Mahrez in action with Stephen Ward

Forget the Jamie Vardy movie, the makers of Being John Malkovich should start planning a sequel.

Instead of a portal into the mind of a Hollywood actor, it would be a great idea if the protagonists tapped into the complex mind of a professional footballer – and Riyad Mahrez would be a perfect candidate.

Just what Mahrez is thinking right now as we head into what is expected to be another tumultuous transfer window is anyone’s guess?

A penny for your thoughts Riyad? I think it would cost a lot more than that. A fortune beyond even the enormous wealth of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Mahrez was poorly advised in summer

There was no doubt about his mindset last summer. Poorly advised, he declared his intention to leave early on in the summer.

For what purpose that decision was taken, again who knows? It seems illogically to put Mahrez in a position where he was potentially alienating himself from the club and the supporters when there was no deal for him to leave on the table.

Then there was the transfer deadline day dash back from Algeria to sit in some airport terminal, like Tom Hanks’ character Viktor Navorski in the film The Terminal (there is a cinematic theme here) waiting for a transfer that never came.

That move, however, seemed more logical as he would have been caught on a long-haul flight for an international game and impossible to contact had a deal emerged at the last minute.
Mahrez was made to look a little foolish

But it did result in him looking a little foolish, and on his return his City team-mates certainly made the most of it with their dressing room banter.

Since then Mahrez had made all the right noises. He doesn’t speak publicly often, but when he has stopped to speak to reporters he has spoken about his love for City, his connection to the club having experienced so much at the King Power Stadium and has insisted he is settled.

However, then he made three moves which through everything back into the balance.

Firstly, and not surprisingly, it is understood he has changed his agent.
New advisor was behind Coutinho-Barca moves in summer

He is now understood to be working with Kia Joorabchian, who is described as an advisor rather than an agent, who was said to be behind Philippe Coutinho’s attempts to join Barcelona last summer.

The agent who was trying to get his move away from City last summer, Kamel Bengougam, has recently insisted that he still represents Mahrez. Awkward.

Then, last week, Mahrez gave an interview to the Daily Mail in which he again stated his desire to get ‘to the top’ of the game was strong, regardless of the bumper contract he has with City, which still has two-and-a-half years to run.

He also spoke of talks held with Arsenal and how he thought a deal was going to be done. I doubt that interview went down well with City.
Was blond haircut also a transfer clue?

Finally, he turned up for the game against Burnley last Saturday with a bleached blond haircut which made him stand-out even more on the pitch.

Was it tactical? It certainly led to plenty of attention and to a few newspaper references to his ‘blond ambition’.

His performances in recent weeks have certainly been more like those fantastic displays City fans saw two years ago when he was crowned PFA player of the year and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or award.

Claude Puel has spoken of his desire to ‘seduce’ Mahrez into wanting to stay at City.

Puel will try to persuade Mahrez to stay

With both being French speakers, it was hoped Puel could sweet talk him using the language of love, but the indications are Mahrez could be about to spurn his advances.

Puel says he hasn’t been given any indication by Mahrez that he still wants to leave, but he hasn’t said he wants to stay either.

Puel is currently using an interpreter to help him understand the journalists a little better during press conferences, but when it comes to dealing with Mahrez he might want to consider a mind reader.