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Championship leaders Leicester cruise to routine win at Cardiff

29 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Leicester City’s Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (right) and Cardiff City’s Perry Ng battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Friday December 29, 2023. Bradley Collyer/PA Wire.

Phil Blanche, PA Sport

Leicester continued their relentless march at the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Cardiff.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and James Justin were on target with strikes that were as pure as Leicester’s command was total.

This was Leicester’s 20th win from 25 league games as the Foxes continue to hunt down Reading’s record Championship points total of 106 set in the 2005-06 season.

Enzo Maresca’s side were unruffled to complete a season’s double over their Cardiff hosts, who harbour play-off hopes but have now only won once in six home games.

Some eyebrows were raised that both sides chose to wear shirts with different forms of blue as the main colour, but it was not overly difficult to decipher who was who for large parts – Leicester were the team with the ball.

The visitors’ possession game split open the Cardiff defence after 14 minutes as Leicester moved the ball one way and then the other.

Jannik Vestergaard found Abdul Fatawu on the right and his cross found the unmarked Dewsbury-Hall with the goal at his mercy.

But Jak Alnwick sprang superbly to his right and kept out Dewsbury-Hall’s header.

Cardiff’s defence, however, were breached within four minutes as Joe Ralls was caught out by Leicester’s high press.

The Bluebirds captain lost possession and Dewsbury-Hall made no mistake this time, by arrowing home a low shot for his eighth league goal of the season.

Leicester were superbly drilled, rarely losing the ball but when doing so rushing around the Cardiff player in possession to win it back.

The Foxes went close again when Stephy Mavididi’s cross made its way to the back post but the bounce deceived Fatawu, who sent his header over.

Cardiff striker Karlan Grant limped off just before the break and his departure coincided with the Bluebirds’ best period.

Ralls twice had efforts blocked by Wout Faes and Kion Etete lacking composure at the final moment.

Leicester got the breathing space their performance deserved after 54 minues, Fatawu setting up full-back Justin for a 25-yard spectacular that flew over the head of Alnwick and into the top corner.

A rare goalscorer, it must surely rank as among the finest of Justin’s career.

Wilfred Ndidi almost put his name on the scoresheet immediately but Dimitrios Goutas’ timely block saved the beaten Alnwick.

Cardiff forced a first save from Mads Hermansen after 64 minutes, but the Leicester goalkeeper comfortably held Manolis Siopis’ low drive.

Fatawu almost matched the purity of Justin’s strike when cutting inside on his left foot from 25 yards.

The ball crashed against the far post with Patson Daka shooting over with Alnwick prostrate on the floor.

Mavididi also hit the woodwork in the closing stages as Leicester stretched their unbeaten run consisting of seven wins and two draws from nine games.

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