Leicester City’s survival hopes took a major hit as Fulham ran out 5-3 winners in a pulsating Premier League clash at Craven Cottage.
The Foxes looked utterly hopeless defensively, with Marco Silva’s Cottagers creating chances at will throughout the 90 minutes in west London.
Fulham started the game brightly and deservedly took the lead in the 10th minute through Willian. The former Chelsea winger whipped a dangerous set piece into the heart of the penalty area but, with no Fulham player on hand to get onto it, the ball skipped off the turf and past Daniel Iversen in the Leicester goal.
Conceding that goal would somewhat spark the Foxes into life, almost equalising five minutes later. The chance would fall to Harvey Barnes who ran across his marker to get his foot on the end of a low driven cross from James Maddison, but he was unable to divert the ball on target.
Shortly after missing that chance, Leicester almost conceded another set piece goal. This time a Fulham player was on hand to get onto Willian’s set piece delivery, but the unmarked Tosin Adarabioyo headed over the crossbar from just six-yards out.
The disappointment of that spurned opportunity didn’t last too long however, as in the 17th minute Fulham made it 2-0. Carlos Vinicius got the goal, latching onto a clever through ball from Harry Wilson to fire low and hard past Iversen.
The home side continued to dominate thereafter and, just before half-time, they capitalised on some sloppy play from Leicester to go three goals up. Fulham‘s high press resulted in the Foxes losing possession in their own defensive third, then after some neat interplay between Harrison Reed and Vinicius, the ball found its way out to Tom Cairney on the left of the penalty area. The midfielder was able to cut in from the left and fire brilliantly into Iversen’s net.
Despite a slight tactical switch from Dean Smith at half-time, Fulham brought that dominance into the second half with them to bag a fourth goal in the 50th minute. A brilliant counter attack led by Kenny Tete on the right culminated in the right-back driving the ball perfectly into Cairney’s path on the edge of the box. After controlling the ball, Cairney fired into the bottom corner with aplomb.
Leicester finally showed a bit of fight around the hour mark when Barnes made it 4-1. The wide player was teed up well by Maddison inside the box and subsequently fired into the roof of the net.
Soon after it Smith’s side were gifted an opportunity to make it 4-2 when Leno chopped down Jamie Vardy in the penalty area. Leno made amends from the spot kick though, saving Vardy’s rather woeful effort.
The visitors were then made to rue that missed penalty as, a few minutes later, Willian cut in from the left flank and fired into the bottom corner to make it 5-1.
In the final 10 minutes, Leicester were awarded another penalty after Joao Palhinha tripped Maddison in the box. This time Maddison would step up to take the spot kick, firing into the bottom right corner of the net to make it 5-2.
Just before the final whistle, the Foxes managed to add a third, as Barnes capitalised on a loose back pass from Shane Duffy to fire in his second of the game.
The defeat sees sit just outside the relegation on goal difference, however two teams below them – Nottingham Forest and Everton – hold a game in-hand over Smith’s side.
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GK: Bernd Leno – 6/10 – Gave away a penalty but then saved said penalty.
R: Kenny Tete – 7/10 – His lung-bursting run led to the fourth goal.
CB: Tosin Adarabioyo – 4/10 – A bit loose defensively at times.
CB: Issa Diop – 5/10 – An okay outing from the former West Ham defender.
LB: Antonee Robinson – 6/10 – Got up and down the flank well.
CM: Joao Palhinha – 6/10 – As brilliant and combative as ever in the middle of the park. He did give away a penalty though.
CM: Harrison Reed – 7/10 – Provided so much energy to the Fulham midfield.
RM: Harry Wilson – 7/10 – Bagged himself an assist and gave Kristiansen a torrid time on the flank.
AM: Tom Cairney – 9/10 – Wonderful strikes to make it 3-0 and then 4-0. Deputised well for the injured Andreas Pereira.
LM: Willian – 9/10 – Set piece delivery was superb throughout. It was so good in fact, that he scored a goal from one. He then bagged a second goal to make it 5-1.
ST: Carlos Vinicius – 8/10 – A goal and an assist in a thoroughly impressive centre forward performance.
SUB: Sasa Lukic (77′ for Reed) – N/A
SUB: Shane Duffy (77′ for Diop) – 2/10 – A poor mistake in the lead up to Leicester’s third.
SUB: Manor Solomon (82′ for Willian) – N/A
SUB: Bobby Decordova-Reid (82′ for Cairney) – N/A
SUB: Neeskens Kebano (82′ for Wilson) – N/A
Marco Silva – 8/10 – The high press worked wonders against a hapless Leicester City team.
GK: Daniel Iversen – 0/10 – Thoroughly uninspiring from start to finish. Should have done better with the first and things got worse from there
RB: Timothy Castagne – 0/10 – Ripped to shreds by Willian on the left.
CB: Wout Faes – 0/10 – Didn’t get the memo that Leicester are in a relegation battle and need to stop conceding goals.
CB: Caglar Soyuncu – 0/10 – May as well already be at Atletico Madrid.
LB: Victor Kristiansen – 0/10 – Just really, really not good.
CM: Youri Tielemans – 0/10 – Clearly doesn’t want to play for Leicester City, and is showing that by not playing for Leicester City even when he’s on the pitch supposedly playing for Leicester City.
CM: Boubakary Soumare – 2/10 – Lost possession an innumerate amount of times.
RM: James Maddison – 7/10 – Played pretty well to be fair, scoring a goal and bagging an assist.
AM: Dennis Praet – 2/10 – He did nothing and was replaced at half-time.
LM: Harvey Barnes – 8/10 – One of two Leicester players who came out of this game with a semblance of dignity. Scored a brace.
ST: Jamie Vardy – 1/10 – Missed a penalty and generally doesn’t look cut out for this level anymore.
SUB: Tete (46′ for Praet) – 1/10 – He came on at half-time and I’m pretty sure he didn’t touch the ball.
SUB: Wilfred Ndidi (60′ for Tielemans) – 2/10 – Looks 1/100th of the player he was a few years ago.
SUB: Luke Thomas (76′ for Kristiansen) – N/A
SUB: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (76′ for Soumare) – N/A
SUB: Patson Daka (76′ for Vardy) – N/A
Dean Smith – 2/10 – Not a lot you can do on the sidelines when your players appear to have thrown in the towel. Has a big job to get Leicester in the right frame of mind moving forward.