李斯特城

Leicester City 0-0 Aston Villa: Jamie Vardy returns as teams play out dull draw

When one team has their eye on a European final and the other on avoiding a sequence that cost their last manager his job, a drab goalless draw is perhaps the most likely outcome.

Leicester face Roma, managed by Jose Mourinho, in the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final on Thursday, while Villa manager Steven Gerrard brought his team here after a run of four straight defeats. 

Five in a row led to the sacking of Dean Smith last November and while Gerrard has nothing to worry about on that score, he had no wish to emulate his predecessor.

Jamie Vardy came off the bench in the second half after 10 matches out with injury

Jamie Vardy came off the bench in the second half after 10 matches out with injury

Leicester and Aston Villa played out a dull and drab goalless draw at the King Power Stadium

Leicester and Aston Villa played out a dull and drab goalless draw at the King Power Stadium

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

Leicester City: Schmeichel 7; Justin 6, Fofana 5.5, Soyuncu 6, Castagne 6.5; Tielemans 6 (Perez 86), Mendy 6, Dewsbury-Hall 7; Maddison 6.5, Daka 6 (Vardy 71, 6), Lookman 6 (Barnes 80).

Substitutes not used: Ward, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Amartey, Choudhury, Pereira

Booked: Mendy, Dewsbury-Hall, Maddison

Manager: Brendan Rodgers

Aston Villa: Martinez 6; Cash 7, Konsa 7.5, Mings 7.5, Young 6.5; McGinn 7, Douglas Luiz 6.5 (Iroegbunam 76, 6), Ramsey 6 (Nakamba 90); Bailey 6, Watkins 7, Coutinho 5.5 (Buendia 79, 6).

Substitutes not used: Olsen, Chambers, Ings, Olsen, Chukwuemeka, Chrisene, O’Reilly.

Booked: Douglas Luiz, Bailey.

Manager: Steven Gerrard

Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire) 6

Attendance: 32,185 

For most of the match, Leicester controlled the ball without ever looking as though they were about to break through. 

Not even the return of Jamie Vardy as a second-half substitute, for his first appearance since March 5 and only his third of an injury-hit 2022, could bring the game to life, though the 35-year-old looked typically lively when he came on.

‘He brings an extra dimension to the game,’ said manager Brendan Rodgers. ‘He hasn’t trained a great deal and it was good to get him out on to the field again. But we have to be careful with him as he has been out for a long period.’

Ollie Watkins did well in attack for Villa and the centre-back pairing of Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings were excellent — welcome news for Gerrard after his team’s last game ended in a 4-0 home defeat by Tottenham. This was their first 0-0 of the campaign.

‘I’m demanding so I’m never happy with just a point,’ said Gerrard. ‘I was satisfied with the result and the performance but I’m sure when we analyse it we will see things we can improve in our attacking play. 

‘It’s important that if you can’t win a game, you don’t lose it. This gives us a base to take into our game against Norwich next week.’

Wesley Fofana has been imperious since returning from injury so it was a surprise to see him make the mistake that nearly let in Villa for an early goal.

The Frenchman mistimed his jump and the ball skimmed off his head into the path of Watkins, who eluded James Justin before finding Leon Bailey 10 yards out. With the goal at his mercy, the Jamaican blasted over.

Bailey’s recent selection ahead of Emiliano Buendia has puzzled Villa fans and this was hardly the way to make them change their minds. At the other end, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall — who had an enjoyable midfield tussle with John McGinn throughout — drilled across goal and Ashley Young did just enough to stop the overlapping Justin giving Leicester the lead.  

Ollie Watkins wriggled into a shooting position only to be denied by Kasper Schmeichel

Ollie Watkins wriggled into a shooting position only to be denied by Kasper Schmeichel

Leon Bailey blasted over from 10 yards out with the goal at his mercy in Villa's best chance

Leon Bailey blasted over from 10 yards out with the goal at his mercy in Villa’s best chance

With Villa sitting deep and the Foxes lacking purpose in their approach work, there was little to entertain the crowd before the break. Indeed, the biggest cheer of the half was saved for Vardy when he went for a jog down the touchline.

In first-half stoppage time, James Maddison put a 25-yard free-kick just wide and Justin produced a fine recovery challenge to stop Philippe Coutinho testing Kasper Schmeichel from Bailey’s cross.

Picked out by Bailey after Leicester had given the ball away, Watkins wriggled into a shooting position only to be denied by Schmeichel at the near post.

From the corner, Bailey’s low drive hit the hand of a sliding Fofana, though there were few appeals and a penalty would have been harsh. Then Villa fans sent a clear message to Gerrard by calling for Buendia to be introduced, which he eventually was in place of Coutinho.

There was briefly concern for the health of Caglar Soyuncu when the Leicester defender fell awkwardly but he was able to continue

There was briefly concern for the health of Caglar Soyuncu when the Leicester defender fell awkwardly but he was able to continue

In first-half stoppage time, midfielder James Maddison put a 25-yard free-kick just wide

In first-half stoppage time, midfielder James Maddison put a 25-yard free-kick just wide

With barely 20 minutes left, the home fans had the moment they had been waiting for when Vardy replaced Patson Daka. But even he could not reshape a game that had looked destined to end 0-0 from the first few minutes.

With Villa sitting deep and the Foxes lacking purpose in their approach work, there was little to entertain the crowd before the break. Indeed, the biggest cheer of the half was saved for Vardy when he went for a jog down the touchline. 

With Villa sitting deep and the Foxes lacking purpose in their approach work, there was little to entertain the crowd before the break. Indeed, the biggest cheer of the half was saved for Vardy when he went for a jog down the touchline.

In first-half stoppage time, James Maddison put a 25-yard free-kick just wide and Justin produced a fine recovery challenge to stop Philippe Coutinho testing Kasper Schmeichel from Bailey’s cross.

Brendan Rogers and Steven Gerrard shared the spoils in a game of few chances

Brendan Rogers and Steven Gerrard shared the spoils in a game of few chances 

Picked out by Bailey after Leicester had given the ball away, Watkins wriggled into a shooting position only to be denied by Schmeichel at the near post.

From the corner, Bailey’s low drive hit the hand of a sliding Fofana, though there were few appeals and a penalty would have been harsh. Then Villa fans sent a clear message to Gerrard by calling for Buendia to be introduced, which he eventually was in place of Coutinho.

With barely 20 minutes left, the home fans had the moment they had been waiting for when Vardy replaced Patson Daka. But even he could not reshape a game that had looked destined to end 0-0 from the first few minutes.

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