Penalty heartbreak for Saints

By SFC Media time Tue 27 Nov
Photo by Matt Watson | Angus Gunn
Tue 27 Nov 7.45PM
Carabao Cup
Leicester City
Leicester City win 6-5 on penalties
Simpson (9') Evans (90+5')
yellow card
Referee: Roger East | Venue: King Power Stadium | Attendance: 22,150

Southampton's promising Carabao Cup run came to an end in a fourth-round tie at King Power Stadium, as they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Leicester City. 

Saints had been the better of the two sides in the fourth-round tie, and could consider themselves hard done by after having a late goal from substitute Steven Davis controversially ruled out for a handball in the build-up.

Mark Hughes's side also twice hit the crossbar, but they couldn't get the luck they deserved, as Danny Ward's save from Manolo Gabbiadini, after five perfect spot kicks from each side, allowed Nampalys Mendy to score the decisive effort in the shootout.

Hughes had said before the game that he would give other players in his squad an opportunity, and he was true to his word, making five changes from the side that lost 3-2 at Fulham.

Highlighting them were right-back Yan Valery and striker Michael Obafemi, with both making their first senior starts for the club – the former his first appearance of any kind at this level.

Also brought in were goalkeeper Angus Gunn, and centre-backs Jannik Vestergaard and Jack Stephens, as Hughes went with three at the heart of his back-line.

The early stages brought some Leicester pressure, but Saints weathered it well, protecting Gunn’s goal from any significant threat.

They could perhaps have felt aggrieved not to have found themselves a man up after nine minutes, when Danny Simpson lost control as he flew into a tackle on Mario Lemina, but referee Roger East produced only a yellow card.

Fortunately for Saints, Lemina was able to continue, after a few minutes of treatment on the pitch.

It took 21 minutes for the first big chance of the game to arrive and, when it did, it was Hughes’s side who fashioned it.

Nathan Redmond started a counter-attack deep in his own half, playing a quick ball to Obafemi in space on the halfway line.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Michael Obafemi of Southampton during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium on November 27th, 2018 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Michael Obafemi bursts forward during the first half (Photo: Matt Watson)

The 18-year-old took control of the ball and burst away down the inside-left, blowing past the Leicester back-line, but he couldn’t get enough on his left-footed shot from an angle to beat Ward in the Foxes goal.

Gunn remained largely untroubled as the game reached the half-hour mark, bar a speculative long-range effort from Adrian Silva that he gathered easily in the 32nd minute, and it was Saints who again produced the next chance of note.

Matt Targett delivered an out-swinging corner which picked out the giant frame of Vestergaard near the penalty spot, but, leaning back to reach it, he could only loop his header just over.

The teams went into half-time level at 0-0, although both had chances to break the deadlock in added time, first Redmond dragging a shot wide from 20 yards before, at the other end, Jamie Vardy got to the byline and attempted to find Demarai Gray with a cutback, only for Vestergaard to intercept and turn wide.

Neither manager made a change at the interval, but Hughes was forced into a first switch on the hour mark, as a dazed Targett had to go off with a head injury, to be replaced by Cédric.

At the same time, the Foxes made a double switch, as Shinji Okazaki and Mendy were sent on in place of Kelechi Iheanacho and Silva.

Moments later, Saints should have claimed the lead.

Redmond seized on a loose ball across field midway inside Leicester’s half and drove into the area, slamming a left-footed shot against the bar. His effort rebounded into the path of Obafemi just a few yards out, but he got his feet in a tangle and side-footed wide from a glorious position.

Saints were pressing more, though, and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, again wearing the captain’s armband, tested Ward with a low, right-footed drive from 18 yards that the hosts’ keeper got down well to save.

The threat sparked Leicester into creating their best moment of the match to that point, as Vardy slipped a pass to his left, into the path of Fousseni Diabaté, but his fierce, angled strike was blocked brilliantly by a sliding Stephens.

20181127 Leicester City vs Southampton FC  (Carabao Cup)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg battles Shinji Okazaki for the ball (Photo: Matt Watson)

Saints’ second substitution came on 73 minutes, as Davis returned to action, in place of Armstrong, before Gray sliced wide from the edge of the box after a driving run that took him past a couple of defenders.

Into the last ten minutes the game went, with the prospect of penalties looming, but it looked like they wouldn’t be needed, as Redmond burst into the left side of the area and forced the ball to Davis, who fired home a left-footed shot.

However, a lengthy VAR check deemed that Redmond had handled the ball as he broke into the box, with the strike ruled out, although there appeared to be little Redmond could do about it.

Saints were fearing another potential VAR decision in the 86th minute, as Jonny Evans went down under the attention of Højbjerg as they challenged for a ball into the area, but referee East’s initial decision not to award a spot kick was upheld.

Six minutes of added time were then indicated, and, right at the very end of them, Saints nearly snatched it.

Redmond was tripped just outside the box, and Gabbiadini, on as a late sub for Obafemi, hit a brilliant free-kick, which Ward got the slightest of touches on to tip against the underside of the bar, with Leicester scrambling clear moments before the full-time whistle blew to signal a shootout.

First up was Davis, who finished with calm assurance, before Christian Fuchs stepped up for Leicester, firing a fierce strike into the roof of the net.

Højbjerg was next up, sending Ward the wrong way to put Saints back ahead, only for Marc Albrighton to level emphatically.

Redmond then stepped forward for Saints, and he made no mistake, finding the corner to make it 3-2. Çaglar Söyüncü was equal to him, though, with the next kick.

Vestergaard then had a heart-in-mouth moment, as Ward got a hand to his penalty, but it had too much power for him, but Gray then levelled once again for Leicester.

Saints' fifth taker was Cédric, who found the top corner with a stunning effort to make it 5-4. Vardy, with the pressure on, then stepped up for Leicester, but he converted with aplomb.

The first miss then came, as Ward guessed correctly on Gabbiadini's effort, low to his right, and it proved a decisive moment, as Mendy converted to give the Foxes a 6-5 win and send them into the quarter-finals to face Manchester City.

Leicester City

Head to Head Stats

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Leicester City

Danny Ward (GK)
Christian Fuchs
Caglar Söyüncü
Jonny Evans yellow card
Danny Simpson yellow card
Fousseni Diabaté
replace Marc Albrighton (78′)
Wilfred Ndidi
Demarai Gray
Adrien Silva
replace Nampalys Mendy (61′)
Jamie Vardy (C)
Kelechi Iheanacho
replace Shinji Okazaki (61′)
Ricardo Pereira
Eldin Jakupovic
Thakgalo Leshabela
Wes Morgan
Marc Albrighton
Nampalys Mendy
Shinji Okazaki


Angus Gunn (GK)
Jannik Vestergaard
Maya Yoshida
Jack Stephens
Matt Targett
replace Cédric Soares (61′)
Yan Valery
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
Mario Lemina
Nathan Redmond
Michael Obafemi
replace Manolo Gabbiadini (90′)
Stuart Armstrong
replace Steven Davis (73′)
Charlie Austin
Wesley Hoedt
James Ward-Prowse
Alex McCarthy
Manolo Gabbiadini
Steven Davis
Cédric Soares
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