Leicester City won their first game of the season with an emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Nottingham Forest that takes them off the bottom of the Premier League table and leaves their East Midlands rivals there instead.
Two first-half goals from James Maddison either side of Harvey Barnes’ curled effort soon lifted the gloom that has surrounded Leicester’s season – and in stunning style. Patson Daka then capped it all by coming off the bench to score with a deft flick in the second half.
Brendan Rodgers had gone into the game under considerable pressure but Leicester’s superior quality was evident from the outset and the focus is now likely to shift to Forest boss Steve Cooper whose rebuild is crumbling following a fifth consecutive defeat.
Leicester: Ward (7), Justin (7), Faes (8), Evans (7), Castagne (7), Ndidi (7), Tielemans (8), Dewsbury-Hall (8), Barnes (8), Maddison (10), Vardy (7).
Subs:Soumare (6), Daka (7), Praet (n/a), Albrighton (n/a).
Nott’m Forest:: Henderson (6), Williams (6), Cook (6), McKenna (6), Lodi (6), O’Brien (6), Kouyate (6), Gibbs-White (6), Lingard (6), Johnson (6), Awoniyi (6).
Subs: Freuler (6), Yates (6), Aurier (6), Dennis (5), Mangala (6)
Man of the match: James Maddison
How Leicester left Forest in disarray
With these teams propping up the Premier League table going into the game, there was an uneasy edge to the first top-flight derby between the two since the turn of the century. There was an awareness among everyone that defeat would only darken the mood.
Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha was in attendance, using his programme notes to rally the home support, viewing this as an opportunity to start afresh. Rodgers had talked of a reset for his confidence-shot squad, a chance to rediscover themselves.
Brendan Rodgers made just the one change to the Leicester side that were beaten 6-2 by Tottenham last time out as Jamie Vardy replaced Patson Daka up front.
Steve Cooper made three changes as Willy Boly, Ryan Yates and Remo Freuler dropped to the bench from the Nottingham Forest side which lost 3-2 at home to Fulham last time out. Jesse Lingard, Cheikhou Kouyate and Lewis O’Brien came in.
That was how it played out from the kick-off as chances flowed. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall inexplicably missed the target with a header after wonderful work from Maddison. Jamie Vardy, restored to the team, might have done better with two good openings.
When Taiwo Awoniyi was put through on goal by Morgan Gibbs-White, that was Forest’s chance to punish the home side and change the mood inside the stadium. But the striker struck the foot of Danny Ward’s post and within minutes the game was away from Forest.
Jesse Lingard’s poor clearance fell kindly for Maddison and his shot deflected off Scott McKenna past Dean Henderson and into the net. Moments later, Barnes, who had tormented Neco Williams from the start, curled the ball into the corner sparking cathartic celebrations.
The way that confidence flooded back into the Leicester players should worry any supporters of sides thinking Rodgers’ team are relegation candidates. The quality remains. The magnificent Maddison showed that when he whipped in a free-kick to make it three.
The Leicester playmaker has now scored nine goals in his last 11 Premier League appearances and even provided the assist for Daka after the interval. As strange as it might seem given the recent travails of this team, Maddison might just be in the form of his life.
“He has been the star of the show,” said Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football. “On paper, he is playing on the right of midfield or right wing, but he has been playing centrally where he is at his best and playing between the lines where there is acres of space.”
What that space says about Forest is another matter. Perhaps it is to be expected that this new-look side should struggle for cohesion but eight games into the season and after a two-week break more was expected than this. It was a troubling performance.
The away support were vocal in their support during the second half – defiant even. But the cheers came from the home fans at the final whistle. On the night their team could not afford to lose, Leicester won well – very well. Inspired by the magic of Maddison.
FPL stats: Leicester vs N Forest
|Goals||Maddison (2), Barnes, Daka|
|Assists||Vardy, Maddison, Dewsbury-Hall|
|Bonus points||Maddison (3), Castagne (2), Ward (1)|
Leicester’s win in stats
- Leicester are the last team in this season’s Premier League to register a win, with the Foxes tasting victory for the first time in eight top-flight games (D1 L6), since a 4-1 home win over Southampton in May.
- Nottingham Forest have suffered five league defeats in a row in a single season for the first time since January 2004.
- Leicester became just the fifth side in Premier League history to score 3+ goals from outside the box in the first half of a Premier League game and the first to do so since Manchester United against Watford in November 2017.
- Leicester’s 4-0 win this evening was the biggest margin of victory for a side starting the day bottom of the Premier League table since Burnley beat Bournemouth 4-0 in September 2018, while the Foxes are the first bottom-of-the-table side to net 4+ Premier League goals in a game since Cardiff City in October 2018 (4-2 v Fulham).
- There were just 109 seconds between Leicester’s first two goals in the first half, with the Foxes netting three first-half Premier League goals for the first time in 33 games (previously vs Watford in November 2021).
- Leicester’s James Maddison netted his 49th and 50th goals in all competitions for Leicester, with the midfielder’s haul of 27 Premier League goal involvements since the start of last season (17 goals, 10 assists), the second-most of any English player in that time (Harry Kane on 34).
- Since making his Premier League debut in August 2018, James Maddison has scored 17 goals from outside the box, more than any other player, while only James Ward-Prowse (12) has netted more direct free-kicks in the competition during this period than the Leicester playmaker (8).
Leicester travel to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday at 3pm before Nottingham Forest host Aston Villa on Monday Night Football at 8pm – live on Sky Sports Premier League.