Aston Villa 1 Leicester 2 - Report

A dire first-half performance cost Villa dear as they fell to defeat against Leicester.

Missing captain Jack Grealish through injury, Dean Smith’s men found themselves 2-0 down inside 23 minutes as James Maddison and Harvey Barnes struck for the Foxes.

Bertrand Traore gave Villa hope when he pulled a goal back early in the second half.

But they were unable to find a leveller with visiting keeper Kasper Schmeichel not seriously tested.

Analysis

Being without Grealish was always going to hurt Villa. This was just the third game he has missed since they were promoted back to the Premier League in 2019 and they have been beaten in all of them.

Yet the 25-year-old’s absence could not explain the first-half no-show from his team-mates, many of whom were well short of their best.

When Barnes doubled Leicester’s lead the hosts looked at risk of a hiding. To their credit they responded after the break, pulling a goal back through Traore and piling pressure on the visitors in the closing stages.

But they were unable to carve out a clear-cut chance as the visitors saw out a win which took them second in the Premier League.

Villa remain eighth in the table, still in with a shout of European qualification but knowing they must improve,

The hosts, who were also missing right-back Matty Cash through injury, found themselves on the back foot almost from kick-off, Ricardo Pereira sending a shot straight at Emiliano Martinez after just 30 seconds.

Luke Thomas then created the first serious moment of alarm for the hosts with a shot which took a deflection before spinning just wide of the post.

Villa were living dangerously and they had another escape when Barnes cut in from the left and saw a shot flick off Ezri Konsa and behind the run of Jamie Vardy.

The hosts finally threatened just past the quarter-hour mark. John McGinn’s ball over the top but Ollie Watkins away and when his path was blocked by Jonny Evans, he produced a delicate backheel to play in Anwar El Ghazi. The winger whipped in a low cross for Traore but Thomas was back to clear in front of the Villa man.

It proved a key moment as with their next attack Leicester took the lead.

From a position where they appeared pinned in their own half, the visitors were able to work the ball to Youri Tielemans on the right. His crossfield ball eventually found its way to Barnes, who immediately found Maddison in space to send a low finish in off the post.

Within four minutes the lead was doubled. Ahmed Elmohamady, who had replaced the injured Cash in the starting line-up, initially did well to nip in front of Barnes as Maddison looked to play in his team-mate.

bBut when Vardy hammered the loose ball toward goal and Martinez could only parry, it was the Leicester man who reacted far quicker, hammering the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Traore had been among Villa’s most disappointing performers and the Burkina Faso international could have had no complaints were he replaced at half-time.

But Smith kept him on the pitch and it proved a good move as within three minutes of the restart he had pulled a goal back.

McGinn, stretching, was unable to reach Matt Targett’s cross but his presence was enough to distract Thomas and Traore hammered the ball home from six yards out.

Villa suddenly had hope but it was still Leicester asking more questions. Maddison brought a save out of Martinez with a well struck free-kick before Vardy hammered wide from a neat Barnes pass.

The latter was the game’s standout player, causing Villa problems every time he got on the ball. Both Douglas Luiz and Elmohamady entering the referee’s notebook as they tried in vain to stop him.

Villa were still in the game but struggling to create any chances, substitute Trezeguet hitting a rare effort right at Kasper Schmeichel from the edge of the box.

When Tyrone Mings headed wide from Elmohamady’s cross deep in stoppage time, Villa’s last chance had gone begging.

Key Moments

19 - GOAL James Maddison fires home the opener. His shot from the edge of the box going in off the post.

23 - GOAL Leicester double their lead. Harvey Barnes reacts quickest when Emi Martinez can only parry Jamie Vardy’s shot, firing the loose ball into the roof of the net.

48 - GOAL Villa pull one back as Bertrand Traore hammers home from six yards out.

Teams

Villa (4-2-3-1): Martinez, Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings (c), Targett, Luiz (Sanson 81), McGinn, Traore, Barkley (Ramsey 76), El Ghazi (Trezeguet 67), Watkins Subs not used: Kesler, Taylor, Nakamba, Chukwuemeka, Davis, Heaton (gk).

Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel (c), Castagne, Soyuncu, Evans, Thomas, Tielemans (Choudhury 88), Ndidi, Pereira (Amartey 76), Maddison (Mendy 64), Barnes, Vardy Subs not used: Albrighton, Iheanacho, Under, Fuchs, Daley-Campbell, Ward (gk).

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