Demarai Gray’s second-half goal was enough to help Leicester City to an emotional 1-0 Premier League win over Cardiff City in their first game since the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
The 60-year-old was one of five people killed when a helicopter they were travelling in appeared to lose control shortly after taking off from the King Power Stadium following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
After impeccably observed pre-match tributes, both sides contributed to a fiery and frenetic first-half, which saw the crossbar struck at both ends.
The game’s decisive moment came after 55 minutes when Gray turned home from 10 yards after a fine cross from Ben Chilwell, sparking an outpouring of emotion from the Foxes’ players and travelling support after a tragic week.
Forever in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/OXBAE1GBZA
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 3, 2018
Leicester – who lost Harry Maguire to injury after 27 minutes – almost fell behind on the half-hour mark when Victor Camarasa’s 25-yard free-kick cannoned back off Kasper Schmeichel’s crossbar.
Wilfred Ndidi – who scored the late equaliser in last Saturday’s draw with West Ham – then headed wide from six yards after rising highest to meet James Maddison’s inswinging corner.
Leicester were denied a blatant penalty in first-half stoppage time, referee Lee Probert failing to punish Sol Bamba after the Bluebirds defender had diverted Jamie Vardy’s close-range effort onto the crossbar with his arm.
Schmeichel denied Josh Murphy from an acute angle in the opening stages of the second period before Gray’s second league goal of the season broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.
Chilwell picked out the winger with a superb cross from the left, allowing the 22-year-old to stroke past Neil Etheridge from 10 yards, although Probert booked him for removing his shirt to reveal a tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha.
Cardiff pushed hard in the closing stages, but Leicester – who might have added a second when Vardy was smartly thwarted by Etheridge – held firm to claim maximum points after a challenging and emotional week.
What does it mean? Foxes’ players do their club proud
Claude Puel said in midweek that the result of this match would not matter, given its tragic backdrop. As it was, his players handled themselves with outstanding professionalism, doing the club proud after one of the most challenging weeks in its history. Gray’s goal ends a three-game winless run for the Foxes, while Cardiff remain with just one win this season.
Gray proves decisive
The Leicester winger has been in good form for the Foxes this season and cemented his growing reputation with a moment of genuine quality 10 minutes after the interval, finishing coolly after Chilwell’s superb cross.
Bamba gets away with one
On another day the Cardiff defender would have received his marching orders for diverting Vardy’s effort onto the crossbar with his arm. He escaped censure on that occasion, but was helpless to keep out Gray’s winner.
Key Opta Facts
– Cardiff have enjoyed just one win in their last 15 Premier League games, drawing three and losing 11.
– Leicester are the only side to score in each of their Premier League games this season (11 games).
– Cardiff have failed to score in six Premier League games this season, a joint divisional high along with Huddersfield Town and Southampton.
– Leicester have won seven of their last nine Premier League games against promoted sides (D1 L1).
– Leicester have won three of their last five Premier League away games (L2), as many victories as they had managed in their previous 12 on the road in the competition (D1 L8).
Neil Warnock’s side host Brighton and Hove Albion at the Cardiff City Stadium next Saturday, while Leicester take on Burnley on the same day at the King Power Stadium.
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