MATCH REPORT: Leicester 2 Fleetwood 0
It was a game that was billed to be all about Vardy and it was half right '“ it was a historic game for VAR.
It was a game that was billed to be all about Vardy and it was half right – it was a historic game for VAR.VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee and Leicester versus Fleetwood will become an obscure quiz question for the nation to ponder in the pub or with the family at Christmas for years to come.That question: who was the first team to have a goal awarded by VAR in England?The answer is Leicester and that goal by Kelechi Iheanacho sealed Fleetwood Town’s exit from the the FA Cup, though it was a spirited display by Uwe Rosler’s Fleetwood side.Rosler made four changes from the side that beat Southend 2-1 in League One on Saturday.One was enforced, with midfielder Toumani Diagouraga cup-tied as George Glendon returned in the middle of the park.Defender Gethin Jones made his first start for the club, with attackers Conor McAleny and Jordy Hiwula also coming in, while Lewie Coyle, Devante Cole and Wes Burns all moved to the bench.It was a fairly open first half, with chances for either side, but Town certainly did not look out of place despite the two-division gulf. Conor McAleny started on the left of the front three and impressed with a number of shots and an off-target header as he continues his return from an ankle injury.Amari’i Bell, who played while mulling over an offer from Blackburn, had an early penalty claim waved away after he was felled by Daniel Amartey. It looked like it could have been a penalty but that time the VAR was not used. Fleetwood were a whisker away from taking the lead as Kyle Dempsey’s first time strike was just tipped over by Eldin Jakupovic after Ash Hunter had fizzed the ball into him at the top of the box.Hunter was in the action again as he teed up Glendon, who whipped the ball to McAleny on the counter. The striker cut in but again Jakupovic tipped the ball away.But Leicester showed their Premier League pedigree after Dempsey was harshly ruled to have felled Riyad Mahrez, who dusted himself down to have a curling strike that kissed the bar. Hiwula was chopped down by Yohan Benalouanem who was booked, but the card could quite easily have been a different colour had it been interpreted as dangerous play.But Town faltered three minutes before the break as Cian Bolger’s clearance fell to Islam Slimani, who whipped the ball up to Iheanacho and drilled home. The second half was more one-way traffic, with the Premier League side able to surge forward and find more gaps as Town pushed up.Slimani rifled an effort wide after the Foxes had carved open Town and then they had the ball in the net for the second time.Adrien Silva had threaded the ball through to Demari Gray but he ran the ball out of play before Iheanacho bundled the home.Fortunately, with the VAR in attendance, the assistant referee was on the ball and flagged straight away, so the goal was chalked off.Soon after Rosler made a double change, throwing the fresh legs of Burns and Cole for McAleny and Hiwula.Iheanacho finally got his second on 77 minutes, though he had the VAR to thank as referee Jon Moss signaled to the TV gods.They ruled that Town skipper Nathan Pond’s back-heel had played him o side by a whisker, the finest of margins but the right decision and the goal was awarded.The decision was indicated by Moss pointing towards the halfway line. It was not as clear cut as in cricket or the rugby and the delivery of that verdict to fans in the stadium is something that needs to be assessed once the trial is over.Vardy finally made it onto the pitch after missing his big Highbury return due to injury, but the game was already put too bed as he made a late cameo against the team he fired into League Two six seasons ago.
Leicester: Jakupovic, Gray, Iheanacho (Okazaki, 81) Silva, Dragovic, Amartey, Slimani (Albrighton, 55), Iborra, Mahrez (Vardy, 81), Fuchs, Benalouane. Subs not used: Hamer, Maguire, Ndidi, Barnes.
Fleetwood: Neal, Jones, Pond, Bolger, Bell, Dempsey, Schwabl (Grant, 71), Glendon, Hunter, Hiwula (Cole 65), McAleny (Burns, 65). Subs not used: Cairns, Coyle, Sowerby, Cargill.
Referee: John Moss