Aston Villa vs Leicester City: Steven Gerrard secures win against his former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
Steven Gerrard came out on top against his former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers as Aston Villa secured a 2-1 victory over Leicester City at Villa Park.
It was Leicester who took the lead when Harvey Barnes struck after 14 minutes, but Aston Villa found an immediate response as Ezri Konsa got the final touch on Emi Buendia's header to bring the scores level. The hosts thought they had grabbed the lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half when Jacob Ramsey swept the ball home from close range, but, after a VAR check, referee Michael Oliver ruled the goal out for a foul on Kasper Schmeichel, who the referee deemed to have control of the ball. Villa did grab the lead nine minutes after the break, however, when Konsa capitalised on some poor Leicester defending at a set-piece to squeeze a header past Schmeichel at his near post. Ollie Watkins and Ramsey had chances to extend Villa's lead, but the misses did not prove costly as Gerrard's men, who needed a stunning late save from Emiliano Martinez to keep out Barnes' header, held on for a victory which moves them above Leicester and into the top half of the table on goal difference. Gerrard has now led Villa, who are 10th, to three wins from his opening four games in charge at Villa Park, while Rodgers' perfect record at the ground was ended as Leicester drop a place to 11th.
How Villa's strong start under Gerrard continued...
Rodgers chose to start Patson Daka ahead of Jamie Vardy and the move paid instant dividends as the Zambia international bustled his way past a couple of Villa challenges before finding Barnes on the left, and the winger produced a superb finish to stroke the ball into the far corner. It was a superb start for the visitors, but Leicester's problems at set-pieces returned three minutes later when Villa hit straight back. Jonny Evans failed to clear Douglas Luiz's free-kick and Matty Cash headed the ball back into danger. Buendia nodded it goalwards and the stretching Konsa got the finest of touches before it dropped into the corner. Villa thought they had turned the game around just before half-time, only to be denied by VAR. Cash headed back Luiz's cross which Schmeichel attempted to claim before Ramsey smashed in from close range. Leicester were adamant Schmeichel had control of the ball before the midfielder lashed it into the net and VAR official Paul Tierney asked Oliver to look at it as he deemed the ball under Schmeichel's control, pinned to the ground - a call Oliver agreed with and he disallowed the goal. The decision led to jeers at the break from the home fans, but they turned to cheers nine minutes after the interval. Luke Thomas made a crucial block from Watkins, but, from the resultant corner, John McGinn's deep delivery found Konsa towering over Caglar Soyuncu and he squeezed a header between Schmeichel and the post.
10 - Leicester City have conceded 10 Premier League goals from set-pieces this season (excl. pens), the joint-most of any side (level with Crystal Palace). Vulnerability.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 5, 2021
Maddison went close from the edge of the area as Leicester searched for an equaliser, but it was Villa who looked the more likely as Schmeichel denied Watkins before Ramsey skied horribly over with just the goalkeeper to beat. Vardy was sent on by Rodgers but it was Barnes who nearly grabbed a leveller with 15 minutes left, only for Martinez to brilliantly turn his looping header over as Villa held on for victory.
'Villa were worthy winners'
"Leicester didn't come out in the second half. In the first 15 to 20 minutes, Villa blew them away. They had a better attitude and worked harder. "They kept the ball and put Leicester under pressure and got the goal in the end. "Apart from Barnes' header which Martinez did well to keep out, Leicester never really caused Villa any real problems. "I thought Villa were worthy winners in the second half."
What the managers said...
Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard: "You kick every ball on the side. It was a tough game and obviously it went right to the wire. I think we saw two sides of us today as in the second half we were outstanding to a man, all over the pitch.
"We started winning our duels and winning the second ball, and we started to compete better. In the first half, we gave the ball away too much and were too open.
"Leicester caused us too many problems on the transition so there's lots for us to look at as well. It's really important we reacted after Leicester's good start. We were too passive in too many areas of the pitch.
"We were far too open and sloppy on the ball. I wasn't happy with our first-half performance at all, so we had to give them a few home truths at half-time. The reaction we saw was much more like we want to see."
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: "I was really pleased with the first half apart from the goal we conceded. We dominated the game, got into some really good areas, some of our play was really incisive. "My only issue at half-time was the defensive transition - when the ball was dead, we switched off and that allowed three or four counter attacks. But apart from that, we were in a good position. "In the second half, we didn't get going. We started slowly and conceded the goal from the header and all of a sudden you're having to chase the game again. That is the big disappointment."
Man of the match - Ezri Konsa
Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa said: "I didn't really want to claim it [the first goal] as I felt sorry for Emi (Buendia)! I thought I was offside and didn't know until after. Two goals on the night isn't bad. I'm happy. "It was a tough game. I think they had more of the ball and we know they're a good side. "They've got top quality players, but we knew that if we stuck together in a compact shape, they'd find it tough to break our plan. "They didn't create too many chances in the second half and we managed to keep their shots to a minimum. "We practise set-pieces before every game and in Austin (MacPhee) we've got a new set-piece coach who is absolutely brilliant so I've got to shout him out for my goals."
Opta stats: Villa's revival under Gerrard continues...
-Having only won three of their first 11 Premier League games of the season under Dean Smith (D1 L7), Aston Villa have since won three of their first four under Steven Gerrard (L1).
-Leicester City lost an away Premier League game in which they scored first for the first time since July 2020 against Bournemouth; before today, they had won 11 of their last 12 league matches away from the King Power Stadium when opening the scoring.
-The home side has won all three managerial meetings between Aston Villa's Steven Gerrard and Leicester's Brendan Rodgers, with Gerrard also beating Rodgers' Celtic side with Rangers in the Scottish Premiership in December 2018 at Ibrox after having lost at Celtic Park in September the same year (both 1-0).
-Leicester City have conceded 10 Premier League goals from set-pieces this season (excl. pens), the joint-most of any side (level with Crystal Palace).
-The Foxes are now the first side to both score and concede a goal in 15 consecutive away games in England's top-flight since Burnley from April 1961 to March 1962 (16 in a row).
Gerrard returns to Anfield as Villa face Liverpool on Saturday December 11.
While Leicester travel to Napoli in their final Europa League group-stage clash on Thursday, before hosting struggling Newcastle United on Sunday December 12.
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