Leicester City 0 Everton 2: Calamitous defending gifts Koeman's men the points

By Patric Ridge 26 December 2016
Leicester City 0 Everton 2: Calamitous defending gifts Koeman's men the points

Leicester City's terrible run in Boxing Day Premier League fixtures continued as some calamitous defending contributed to a 2-0 victory for Everton.

Kevin Mirallas put Ronald Koeman's side ahead 51 minutes into a tightly contested but rather tepid encounter at the King Power Stadium, with slack defending from Wes Morgan and Marcin Wasilewski allowing the Belgian to net a third goal in his last three games against the champions.

And the visitors put the match beyond all doubt in second-half stoppage time when Romelu Lukaku doubled the lead to wrap up the points.

Leicester, who have not won a Boxing Day match in the top-flight since 1998, had lost just one league game at home in 2016 prior to Monday's clash, but they failed to respond to going behind against an Everton side that had been defeated in their last four away fixtures.

Claudio Ranieri's side, without a plethora of key players, had their chances in a late glut of pressure, substitute Leonardo Ulloa guilty of squandering a fantastic opportunity shortly after coming on, which was ultimately punished by Lukaku's goal.

The defeat leaves Leicester planted firmly in a scrap for survival as the half-way mark of the season approaches, while Everton move back into the top seven.

Leicester placed masks bearing Jamie Vardy's face on approximately 30,000 seats to protest the striker's suspension for a dubious red card picked up against Stoke City, and his absence was felt in a scrappy opening, with the hosts struggling to find space against Everton's three-man defence.

When the Foxes did fashion a 10th-minute opening, Daniel Amartey - fresh from netting his maiden Leicester goal last time out - failed to trouble Joel Robles with a low strike.

Demarai Gray, in for Riyad Mahrez, was the next to try his luck from range with a venomous effort that flashed wide of the left-hand upright.

Ashley Williams then made a vital last-ditch tackle on Islam Slimani as Everton managed to weather a spell of pressure from the champions.

The visitors struggled to muster their own openings, but could well have taken the lead before the interval with Ramiro Funes Mori heading over from six yards, before Kevin Mirallas narrowly failed to prod home Leighton Baines' cross.

However, Leicester only had themselves to blame when they fell behind six minutes after the restart.

Neither Morgan nor Wasilewski was alert to Mirallas' run from Robles' long punt and the Belgium winger proceeded to squeeze a deflected finish past Kasper Schmeichel.

Mahrez and Ulloa were soon brought on and the latter should have restored parity with his first touch, only for the Argentine striker to direct his header straight at Robles.

Koeman responded with changes of his own, Tom Davies and Ross Barkley coming on as Everton aimed to withstand the Leicester pressure.

And Barkley played a key part in Everton's second as, moments after Idrissa Gueye had squandered a gilt-edged chance from point-blank range, his pass freed Lukaku, who outmuscled Morgan before driving towards goal and slotting a low finish into the bottom-left corner as the Toffees rebounded from the last-gasp defeat to rivals Liverpool last time out.

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