10 January 2021 00:44
Leicester City breezed into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Stoke. James Justin's stunning strike put Brendan Rodgers' side into a half-time lead, before Marc Albrighton, Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes netted in a ruthless second half. Rodgers was true to his word that the FA Cup would not take a backseat to the Premier League and Europa League, making just two enforced changes, Dennis Praet and Ayoze Perez coming in for the injured James Maddison and Jamie Vardy. However, the strong line-up were short of their best to start with and Stoke should have been ahead midway through the first half, an unmarked Sam Vokes spooning a volley over from six yards after City's deficiencies at set-pieces came to light again. But the quality did not desert City for long, and they netted the opener thanks to a sublime goal from James Justin.
The full-back, playing on the left, jinked inside two men before bending a brilliant effort into the top corner from 18 yards, past a motionless Joe Bursik. City turned on the style then, the move of the first half ending with Bursik spreading himself well to deny Harvey Barnes, who rushed in to meet Dennis Praet's low cross. That quality continued in the second half, but was backed up with ruthlessness too. Youri Tielemans threaded the eye of a needle to put Albrighton in, the winger cutting inside his man and scoring for the first time since Boxing Day 2018. And then came two in quick succession to guarantee City's spot in the fourth-round draw on Monday.
Praet fed Timothy Castagne, who smartly laid the ball into Perez's path for a simple third, then, Barnes lashed in a fourth after a Justin cross wasn't properly cleared. Here's how we scored the players. Kasper Schmeichel: Once again, he needed his lungs more than his hands. He had little to do in the way of keeping bar a couple of routine stops, so it was his job to tell his team-mates when to press. Timothy Castagne: A steady game from a player who seems like he is still feeling his way back to his best after a couple of months out. And yet he still had the energy to get forward late on and lay on a goal for Perez. Wesley Fofana: A rash challenge earned him a booking in the first half and he was too eager to win the ball back at times, putting him out of position. Thankfully, he was rarely punished. Very good on the ball as usual. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will auto-play soon 8 Cancel Play now Jonny Evans: Won his headers and closed down the space well to ensure Stoke created nothing from open play, although he was perhaps guilty of losing Vokes at a free-kick for the hosts' best chance. James Justin: He's been playing out of his skin, but he showed here there is even more he can do. His goal was sublimely taken, not only with the bending finish, but with the dancing footwork before it. Used his pace well too to get forward in every attack. Wilfred Ndidi: A surprisingly sloppy Ndidi was caught in possession in his own third more than once because of a lackadaisical touch, albeit he pressed pretty well and was not too bad on the ball. Youri Tielemans: Played a pass few can to dissect the Stoke defence for Albrighton's goal, while he had Stoke chasing around the pitch with his balls left and right. He has the vision to play passes the opposition don't see coming, and that's what makes him so good. Marc Albrighton: His delivery, particularly from set-pieces, was uncharacteristically poor and it looked like it would be a frustrating afternoon for the winger. Then he showed terrific composure to pop up with his first goal since Boxing Day 2018. Ran hard too. Dennis Praet: His off-the-ball movement is second-to-none, and makes a huge difference to the fluidity of City's attack. He could not get his final ball quite right, but kept going and played a key role in Perez's goal. A shame to see him pull up at the end. Harvey Barnes: Denied twice by Bursik in the first half, he wasn't to finish without a goal, thrashing in the final of the four. Dribbled into trouble, rather than around it, too often, but still had an impact. Ayoze Perez: Linked play well with flicks around the corner, and was good in possession in tight spaces. He didn't possess too much of a goal threat until his one chance, which he finished with aplomb. Caglar Soyuncu: Mopped up where he needed to as he was handed a few more minutes. Kelechi Iheanacho: Showed a few nice touches in his brief cameo. Papy Mendy: Only on for a few minutes. The commenting system on Leicestershire Live has undergone an overhaul and we want to get even closer to what you're thinking by getting your comments and feedback on all of our stories, particularly where City debates are concerned. Let us know how you rated the players by having your say in the comments section below. Need the latest Foxes transfer news? Get FREE email alerts for Leicester City FC Sign up! Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has selected a strongest possible line-up for the FA Cup clash with Stoke, making just two enforced changes. James Maddison (knee) and Jamie Vardy (hip) are out injured, so Dennis Praet and Ayoze Perez come in as straight swaps. That means Perez has been preferred to Kelechi Iheanacho to lead the line after the Nigerian's under-par showing in his last outing at Crystal Palace, in which he missed a penalty. The other change sees Praet come in for Maddison, with the Belgian expected to play as a number 10, with Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes as wingers. Then, it's the same back seven as it was for City's 2-1 victory at Newcastle. Kasper Schmeichel is in goal, James Justin and Timothy Castagne play at full-back, with Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans at centre-back, meaning Caglar Soyuncu is still waiting for the first start of his second injury comeback. Then it's Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans in front of the back four. With Maddison and Vardy out, and with Cengiz Under picking up an ankle knock, the bench is light on attacking options. City (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Justin, Fofana, Evans, Castagne; Ndidi, Tielemans; Albrighton, Praet, Barnes; Perez. Subs: Ward, Soyuncu, Amartey, Morgan, Fuchs, Thomas, Choudhury, Mendy, Iheanacho.