A last-minute goal from Kelechi Iheanacho sent Leicester into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, defeating Brighton 1-0.
The Nigerian headed home from close range in the 94th minute, with the Seagulls reacting slowly to a short corner, and that gave the Leicester victory following a game largely devoid of chances.
Brighton had the better of the first half, but openings were hard to come by. Andi Zeqiri had perhaps the best, but could not hit the target with an acrobatic effort, while Leicester’s forwards were peripheral figures.
Zeqiri did have the ball in the net after the break, but was denied by the offside flag. He finished well after being slipped in by Percy Tau, and the hosts then had a goal of their own ruled out for offside within three minutes. Cengiz Under was denied this time, as substitute Kelechi Iheanacho had been offside earlier in the move.
Those disallowed goals meant the game’s first shot on target technically did not arrive until the 83rd minute, when a Zeqiri effort from a tight angle was comfortably saved.
Tau was inches away from converting crosses on a couple of occasions, but for Brighton this was yet another case of playing well without making their dominance count. Iheanacho made them pay, scoring in the last minute of stoppage time.
Leicester are through to the last eight of the competition for the second season in a row. A late injury to James Justin, who left on a stretcher after landing awkwardly when seeking to control a long ball, will be a concern to Brendan Rodgers, however.
Is Maddison now Leicester’s main man? This game marked Jamie Vardy’s return to Leicester’s starting line-up, but he hardly had a sniff before making way for game-winner Iheanacho in a triple change. That was the moment that changed the game and the hosts’ display - but not really for Iheanacho’s arrival.
Instead it was the introduction of James Maddison which really made a difference. Leicester looked to have more purpose in possession once he was on, and the likes of Under were far more involved in the game than they had been. Maddison’s flicks, backheels and drive on the ball gave Brighton something new to think about, and while the goal came from a Youri Tielemans cross, it was Maddison’s smart work to play in debutant Vontae Daley-Campbell that won a corner.
Vardy has been Leicester’s talisman for so long, and is clearly still an important figure and first-choice striker, but Maddison has taken another step this season. He has nine goals and 10 assists in all competitions, and has been in particularly fine form since the turn of the year. It was notable tonight that the presence of Maddison, not Vardy, was what gave Leicester a lift, sparked them into life and ultimately secured a place in the next round.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester). He read the game well, tidied up for team-mates’ errors on several occasions and general played an important role in preventing Brighton dominance turning into Brighton chances.
40' - Moder's cross is behind Zeqiri, who tries an acrobatic flick but cannot keep his effort down.
61' - Triple swap for Leicester! Maddison, Iheanacho and Choudhury on for Perez, Vardy and Ndidi.
65' - DISALLOWED GOAL! Tau slips in Zeqiri, who produces a lovely, scooped finish to beat Ward, but the Swiss forward was clearly offside.
67' - DISALLOWED GOAL! Iheanacho slips after receiving a through ball but works it to Tielemans, whose deflected shot runs to Under, who slots home. The linesman's flag is quickly raised, however, as Iheanacho was offside when the initial through ball came.
87' - Under plays a one-two with Maddison, who finds him with a lovely backheel, but Walton denies Under from a tight angle.
90+4' - GOAL! Iheanacho has won it! The Leicester man heads in from close range and the Foxes are surely into the quarter-finals.
Man United close on deal for Sporting star as Liverpool circle – Euro Papers
Leicester: Ward 6, Daley-Campbell 6, Amartey 6, Soyuncu 7, Justin 6, Thomas 6, Ndidi 6, Tielemans 6, Perez 5, Under 5, Vardy 5. Subs: Choudhury 6, Maddison 7, Iheanacho 7, Fuchs 6.
Brighton: Walton 6, Karbownik 7, White 7, Dunk 6, Burn 6, Moder 6, Gross 6, Lallana 6, Tau 6, Alzate 6, Zeqiri 6. Subs: Veltman 6, Bissouma 5, Mac Allister 7.
- Leicester are now unbeaten in the last eight meetings between these two clubs, winning six of them.
- There was not a shot on target until the 83rd minute.
- These clubs had not played in the FA Cup since January 1931.
- Brendan Rodgers has three wins in four games against Brighton as a manager, and his teams are yet to concede a goal.
- Brighton had been on a six-game unbeaten run.