Sven’s Foxes fall just short against Galacticos in front of sell-out crowd at the King Power Stadium
Leicester City ended their preseason fixtures with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Spanish giants Real Madrid in front of a sell-out crowd at the King Power Stadium.
Jose Callejon put the tourists ahead just before half-time following a defensive error from Matt Mills, while Karim Benzema doubled Real’s lead after the hour mark through a wonderfully crafted counter-attack.
Lloyd Dyer netted for the Foxes with two minutes remaining but the home side were unable to find an equaliser against Jose Mourinho’s side.
Although Real Madrid were a clear step above Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men, there were some real positives for the former England manager to take from the match – including positive performances from Sol Bamba and new signings Lee Peltier, Neil Danns and David Nugent.
Real Madrid – who fielded a world class side featuring the likes of Kaka, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Sami Khedira – started the match positively, and it was the French international Benzema causing the Leicester backline problems, being thwarted only by a last ditch challenge by Sol Bamba.
Benzema was soon in again behind the Foxes’ defence, but fired just wide after great work from Sami Khedira.
Neil Danns fired wide for the Foxes but the visitors maintained a high tempo, forcing goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel into making a fantastic save from Fabio Coentrao who was in on goal.
Sol Bamba was on hand again midway through the first-half to keep Leicester in the game, preventing Brazilian midfielder Kaka from breaking the deadlock with another great block.
Chances for the home side were few and far between, with David Nugent firing into the side netting from the near post with an ambitious effort – but Real maintained a level of superiority, coming close to breaking the opening the scoring again, this time through Marcelo and Sami Khedira
Mourinho’s Galacticos were rewarded for their persistence three minutes from half-time when Matt Mills’ poor defensive header allowed Karim Benzema to round Kasper Schmeichel and find Jose Callejon unmarked at the far post, who passed the ball into an empty net to put the visitors ahead.
The interval saw a change of personnel for both sides – Leicester introducing Andy King and Michael Johnson in replacement of Richie Wellens and Paul Gallagher, while Real brought on Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo – and it was the hosts who had a glorious opportunity to level when the Sol Bamba rose to meet Neil Danns’ corner – but could only direct his header into the safe hands of goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Bamba continued to impress defensively as well as in attack, doing well to slide in and block yet another effort on goal by Karim Benzema.
Marcelo fired high and wide for Real following a mazy run through midfield ten minutes after the break but the visitors soon doubled their advantage just after the hour mark, countering strongly following the breakdown of a Leicester set play, and a mix up between Yuki Abe at Sean St. Ledger saw Marcelo’s strike hit the post with Benzema on hand to fire home neatly from an acute angle.
The goal was a deserved one from Mourinho’s men, and a sublime demonstration of Real’s ability to counter-attack in numbers.
With time running out, Leicester continued to press forward with ambition and came close to pulling a goal back when Steve Howard connected with fellow substitute Martyn Waghorn’s in-swinging free-kick, but the big striker’s header fell agonisingly past Casillas’ far post.
Leicester maintained some pressure as Sol Bamba’s header on target was deflected over the bar – and the hosts eventually managed to pull a goal back when Bamba again managed to flick on a Lee Peltier throw in towards Lloyd Dyer who fired brilliantly into the bottom corner.
It may have been too little too late, but it was certainly a memorable moment for the speedy winger – and for all Foxes supporters at the King Power Stadium.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards but the day still belonged to Leicester City, who now begin their promotion push from the Championship next weekend away at Coventry City.
Man of the Match – Sergio Ramos