James Maddison leads Leicester to victory over struggling Huddersfield

Paul Doyle at King Power Stadium on 22 September 2018

Huddersfield glimpsed a first league win of the season here when Mathias Jørgensen swept them into an early lead, but that turned out to be a cruel mirage. Leicester soon reintroduced them to reality by equalising through Kelechi Iheanacho before taking control of the match.

They sealed victory in the second half thanks to goals by the former England striker Jamie Vardy and the excellent James Maddison, a 21-year-old who will become a valuable part of England’s future if he continues to perform as he has done for Leicester since his arrival from Norwich this summer for £24m. It is a fee that already looks more than reasonable.

This was an important win for Leicester after two defeats. Maddison was instrumental in it even though he was deployed from the left wing rather than in his more familiar position behind a central striker. That adjustment was to accommodate Claude Puel’s switch to a 4-4-2 formation, with Iheanacho partnering Vardy, and the hosts initially looked disjointed. Huddersfield deserved their early breakthrough.

It came via a long throw-in by Philip Billing, which Laurent Depoitre flicked on at the near post before Jørgensen swept into the net from close range. A failure to convert chances had undermined promising displays by Huddersfield in their past two games so this was an ideal start.

Huddersfield played with poise immediately after that and fleetingly looked the superior side, Depoitre heading wide when given a chance to increase their lead. Perhaps the lack of a threat from the hosts lulled the visitors into a false sense of safety, but that is no excuse for the way they allowed Puel’s team to equalise.

The goal in the 19th minute originated from a Huddersfield corner. That was cleared and as the ball bounced midway inside the Leicester half, two Huddersfield players rushed forward to try to collect it, vacating their defensive posts like bank guards rendered giddy by the arrival of an ice-cream van. Maddison got to the ball first and Leicester acted quickly to loot the vaults, Maddison feeding Vardy, who served Iheanacho, who fired low into the net from the edge of the box.

Equalising inspired Leicester and they began to enjoy the majority of possession. Set pieces brought their best chances to go in front, thanks to admirable inventiveness. Maddison duped the defence by dinking a pass over the wall when most were expecting him to shoot from a 20-yard free-kick, but that wheeze was undone as Vardy volleyed wide from 10 yards. Harry Maguire then had a header saved by Jonas Lössl following another clever free-kick.

Huddersfield’s ventures into opposing territory grew rare. But they should have regained the lead in the 62nd minute, only for Maguire to dispossess the hesitant Depoitre after Rajiv van La Parra sent the striker lumbering clear. Four minutes later, Maddison fired Leicester in front with a splendid free-kick.

There was nothing especially innovative about this one – it was just a viciously struck dead ball that whizzed over the wall and past Lössl, who got a hand to it to no useful effect.

In the 75th minute, Iheanacho seized on a loose pass and sent Vardy running clear from halfway. The striker left Jørgensen in his wake before dinking the ball over Lössl and into the net.

“We made a miss-pass in an area where everybody knows you can’t do a miss-pass against Leicester,” said David Wagner. “We’ve seen Jamie score this goal 100 times.”

Puel was understandably more enthused, if still cautious in his praise. “We have to correct our starts but the second half was amazing and we scored three fantastic goals,” he said.

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