James Maddison breathed life into Brendan Rodgers’ reign at Leicester with a show that could hasten the end of Steve Cooper’s tenure at Nottingham Forest.
Maddison scored twice, was involved with the others, and teased Forest about his cunning and vision all night. Somehow, despite England’s creativity woes, Gareth Southgate continues to ignore him. He helped Leicester off the end of the table and sent Forest there instead.
Back in February Leicester were beaten 4-1 by Forest in the FA Cup but here they retaliated with their first win of the season. Had this one gone the other way, who knows what Rodger’s fate would have been in the days to come?
James Maddison scored twice to guide Leicester to their first Premier League win of the season
Maddison opened the scoring when his shot received a nasty deflection from outside the box
Instead, Maddison’s double, both sides of Harvey Barnes’ stunner, gave the Foxes a 3-0 lead at the break before substitute Patson Daka added a mischievous fourth and now it’s Cooper fearing for his future. After spending £150million in the summer, Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis is unlikely to suffer a string of five straight defeats and although Cooper worked a miracle to propel Forest up last season, it is enough it might not be enough to save him.
However, his reputation as one of the smartest managers in the game remains intact and Forest fans made their feelings clear, regularly chanting Cooper’s name even as Leicester supporters taunted him about his job prospects.
Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanprabha, known as Khun Top, watched from the directors’ box and had urged the disaffected home fans to cheer for their team in this important game.
Harvey Barnes celebrates as his impressive goal doubles Leicester’s first-half lead
Maddison scored the three-zero with an excellent free-kick that left Dean Henderson stuck in goal
In fact, they heard his call and should have been rewarded with an early goal. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall somehow headed Maddison’s cross from an unmarked position inside the six-yard box before Jamie Vardy also headed in a free header from goal and then fired straight at Dean Henderson after Barnes freed him with a superb pass from deep would have.
Steve Cooper (left) is now under immense pressure as Forest boss, while Brendan Rodgers (right) has bought himself time in the Leicester dugout
Leicester were dominant for the opening 20 minutes but remained so fragile at the back. Before that, they had conceded 22 goals in their first seven games and Taiwo Awoniyi was hellishly close to scoring the 23rd.
Played on the side by Wout Faes, the Nigerian ran towards Morgan Gibbs-White’s ball and, when Danny Ward hesitated, shot against the post.
How Forest was asked to pay as Leicester roared ahead. Jesse Lingard made a mess on the edge of the box and Maddison collected it before shooting. Henderson moved toward it, but when the ball touched Scott McKenna’s arm, all he could do was watch it drift past him.
Forest players looked for answers during their 4-0 hammer against King Power
Leicester’s overwhelming victory also gave them their first clean sheet of the new season
If Leicester were lucky there, their second was a moment of pure class. Maddison found Barnes on the left and the winger sliced inside before producing a perfect shot that rolled past Henderson. Two goals in just 110 seconds.
Under pressure, Cooper had switched to a back four for the game to try and change the fortunes of his side – to no avail. With ten minutes remaining, Cheikhou Kouyate put Dewsbury-Hall within range and Maddison did the rest, sending his free-kick over the wall and into the post. Are you watching Gareth?
Cooper certainly wished he weren’t the way he stood in the technical area with his hands on his knees and his head down as the home fans crowed, “You’re getting fired in the morning.” Rodgers has heard that chant all too often this season, so it must have been a relief to hear it addressed to someone else.
Despite his side’s lead, Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward looked particularly nervous. Again he was indecisive early in the second half when the home defense was caught head-on as Awoniyi ran clear, although this time he made at least one important save.
Patson Daka made it 4-0 with a brilliant heel grind and scored the only goal of the second half
Daka celebrates as his goal ensures Leicester take all three points against Forest
At the other end, Barnes’ volley caught Steve Cook in the arm but nothing was scored, much to the annoyance of home fans who had watched reruns on the big screen. Forest also made three changes at half-time when Kouyate, Lewis O’Brien and Neco Williams were sent off.
Forest supporters continued to support their team even as Leicester added their fourth. Daka had replaced Vardy on the hour and when Maddison sent in a low cross from the right, the Zambian countered the wrong foot for Henderson with a Johan Cruyff-style flick that crept over the keeper’s hand, a fabulous invention.
Leicester (4-3-3): station 6; Castagne 7, Evans 6:5, Faes 6:5, Justin 6; Tielemans 8 (Praet 80), Ndidi 6 (Soumare 46, 6.5), Dewsbury Hall 6.5; Maddison 8.5 (Albrighton 85), Vardy 6 (Daka 62, 7), Barnes 7.5.
Goalscorers: Maddison 25, 34, Barnes 27, Daka 72
Booked: Soumare, Maddison
Manager: Brendan Rodgers 8
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Henderson 6; Williams 5 (Aurier 46, 6), Koch 5.5, McKenna 6, Lodi 5; Kouyate 5 (Freuler 46, 6), O’Brien 5 (Yates 46, 6); Johnson 6.5, Gibbs-White 6, Lingard 4.5 (Mangala 69.6); Awoniyi 6 (Dennis 62, 6).
Booked: Williams, Kouyate, Lingard
Manager: steve cooper 5
Referee: Robert Jones6
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