Express & Star

Leicester 2 West Brom 1 - Report

Albion were dealt a cruel lesson in wastefulness as they were somehow beaten at Leicester on an afternoon they should have scored six.

Last updated

The Foxes, now very well placed to wrap up automatic promotion having gone top again, had Hamza Choudhury to thank for three goalline clearance in a bonkers clash at the King Power Stadium.

Jed Wallace eventually halved Leicester's two-goal lead late on as Albion finally found some composure but it didn't stop the Baggies dropping to back-to-back defeats in a run of just one win in six since the international break.

In Albion's defence, this was certainly a day of more than a few shoots of positivity. The Baggies did enough to win five games of football and really paid the price in front of goal to lose in front of supporters at Leicester's current home for the first time in eight attempts.

If Choudhury was Leicester's star, then Albion's loan wonder Mikey Johnston was truly electric. He could've had a hat-trick inside the first 20 minutes. Okay Yokuslu had already missed a sitter.

Yann M'Vila, a surprise starter, also had a shot cleared from the line, as did the wasteful Grady Diangana, who also somehow shot wide, as did Darnell Furlong. Kyle Bartley hit the woodwork inside a few crazy second-half minutes.

Enzo Maresca's hosts weren't so wasteful. Wilfred Ndidi netted the hosts' only first-half opportunity prior to Jamie Vardy's controversial missed penalty on the stroke of half-time.

That man Vardy, though, netted his seventh goal in 11 games against Albion after the hour to rub salt into gaping Albion wounds.

It was the best performance Corberan's troops have given for some time but wasn't enough to secure the three points they deserve. More than 3,000 in the away end applauded their side off regardless.

The Baggies remain fifth in the Championship as Norwich and Hull both dropped points by drawing later in the day. With two games left, a trip to Sheffield Wednesday and the visit of Preston on the final day, Corberan's men need just one more win to all-but mathematically confirm a play-off place owing to a much superior goal difference.

Corberan sprung something of a surprise in his team news as experienced French midfielder M'Vila was included for just his third Albion start as the head coach looked to beef his numbers in that department alongside Yokuslu and Alex Mowatt.

The Baggies' trio went up against a strong home midfield of Harry Winks, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Ndidi.

M'Vila was one of three Albion changes as Yokuslu and Wallace also came back in the side, for Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Fellows and the suspended Brandon Thomas-Asante.

Wallace led the line centrally in a 4-3-3, a slight tweak from Albion's usual.

Leicester re-introduced Conor Coady for a rare start. Jamie Vardy was also recalled - there were no problems for fitness doubts Vardy or the influential Kearnan Dewsbury-Hall.

A packed-out away end of 3,300 travelling Baggies made themselves heard superbly ahead of kick-off in the crunch clash.

It felt like a much-anticipated contest ahead of kick-off and Albion should have marked their supporters' wonderful reception with an opener inside 100 seconds.

The Baggies pressed hungrily and Dewsbury-Hall lost the ball. Albion squared it to Yokuslu in space inside the box but the Turk opted for a first-time strike and it raised high over the top right corner.

Then it became the Johnston show.

Leicester v WBA match actionb (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images)

The on-loan winger could've had a hat-trick in about 10 minutes. He was first denied - somehow - by makeshift right-back Choudhury goalline clearance, then keeper Mads Hermansen and then a strike narrowly over.

The first opening owed all to Wallace's wonderful skill and cross from the right. The second was all about Johnston seconds later as he danced through three challenges and then the winger lashed over from 18 yards in a breathless few minutes.

It had a feeling that the Baggies might be stung and rue those wasted chances and so it played out barely five minutes later.

Defender Wout Faes, out of position at left-back, crossed and Vardy was allowed to win an easy backwards header. Alex Palmer made a wonderful close-range save but midfielder Ndidi was quickest off the mark to thrash in the replay from two yards.

The opener woke up the home side and indeed their supporters, who had been shell-shocked. The match slumped somewhat. M'Vila was cautioned and found himself on a tightrope.

Wallace had a couple of bites at the cherry from a free-kick on the edge of the D - one blocked and another wide - after another Johnston mazy run.

The game suddenly threatened, in cruel circumstances, to get away from Corberan's men.

A long high ball was watched by the deep Yokuslu over his shoulder and in nipped Vardy. The former England international went down and referee Thomas Bramall pointed to the spot. Replays showed contact was initially outside the box but there may have been some continuing inside the area.

Grady Diangana (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images)

It felt unjust and Vardy - often scourge of Albion - smashed the left post from 12 yards. The away end erupted to his right.

Maresca's Foxes were bright for a few seconds to start the second half but shortly afterwards came one of the most surreal passages of play in recent Albion history.

It centred around Johnston again. His wonderfully inventive run and dummy allowed M'Vila to shoot from 15 yards, it beat Hermansen, but there was Choudhury - again - to clear off the line.

The rebound dropped to Diangana a few yards out. He was denied by Hermansen, the ball bounced up off the Albion attacker, looped the keeper, but unbelievably Choudhury was there for his third goalline clearance of the afternoon.

It seemed a sign it wasn't Albion's day.

Seconds later from the resulting corner was met by Bartley and crashed the crossbar. The rebound dropped to Diangana again from an angle and tricked inches wide.

Two more gilt-edged chance came before the hour. Diangana wastefully turned wide of the post from 10 yards out when free in the box before Furlong's effort was deflected just wide of the post. The former was the huge opportunity Diangana's side would come to regret.

Predictably, Albion were punished. Predictably by Vardy. Abdul Fatawu beat Conor Townsend and his cross saw Vardy climb above Furlong to head down and in.

Two-nil might've been game over but it wasn't.

Albion kept pushing as Corberan introduced John Swift, Matt Phillips and Chalobah.

The Baggies finally had the least they deserved, a goal, to halve the deficit. It owed all to Cedric Kipre's wonderful through ball from deep. Wallace raced in on his left side and this time there was composure for a cool finish. On came Fellows and the returning Josh Maja.

There were 14 minutes to fight for an equaliser but one more clear chance would not quite arrive, even in six minutes added on. It was an afternoon where the visitors probably needed another half-dozen openings to salvage that leveller.


Albion (4-3-3): Palmer; Furlong, Bartley, Kipre, Townsend; Yokuslu (Swift, 70), Mowatt (Phillips, 70), M'Vila (Chalobah, 70); Diangana, Wallace (c) (Maja, 82), Johnston (Fellows, 76).

Subs not used: Griffiths, Ajayi, Reach, Weimann.

Leicester (4-3-3): Hermansen; Choudhury, Coady, Vestergaard, Faes; Winks, Dewsbury-Hall (Praet, 82), Ndidi; Fatawu, Vardy (c) (Daka, 85), Mavididi (Justin, 88).

Subs not used: Stolarczyk, Doyle, Pereira, Cannon, Akgun, McAteer.