Leicester City 0 Everton 2
Everton reasserted their status as serious contenders for honours this season, as they followed up Saturday's win over Chelsea by suppressing Leicester at the King Power. Richarlison opened the scoring in the first half thanks to an uncharacteristic error by Kasper Schmeichel before Mason Holgate struck in the second half to ensure that an accomplished performance by Carlo Ancelotti's team was rewarded with three points.
Brendan Rodgers came into the game knowing that victory could propel his team to the top of the league, at least temporarily, but wound up fretting about an ominous pattern, with this being the fourth time his side have been beaten at home this season by opponents who stifled their creativity.
Leicester began with a swagger and might have opened the scoring after just two minutes thanks to a marvellous run by Harvey Barnes and a pass back by Jamie Vardy to Youri Tielemans, who drilled a low shot just wide from 20 yards.
Soon, however, Everton's strategy began to confound the hosts. Ancelotti's side showed the same compactness that helped them beat Chelsea, while threatening with regular sorties on the counterattack. But Schmeichel had not been busy before the 21st minute when he made a costly misjudgment, pawing feebly at a low shot by Richarlison, who had opened fire from over 20 yards after James Justin allowed him to cut in from the left on to his right foot. Thus the Brazilian claimed his second league goal of a season.
Until then the focus had been on Everton's goalkeeper, with Robin Olsen making only his second start for the club because Ancelotti chose to leave Jordan Pickford on the bench. "It's normal rotation," Ancelotti said. "Jordan is doing really well at the moment but maybe a rest for him could do him good."
Vardy should have tested Olsen’s agility in the 22nd minute after a delicious cross from the right by Justin, but the striker headed straight at the goalkeeper from seven yards.
Leicester struggled to pick apart the diligent visitors, for whom Allan controlled midfield until he became the latest player to suffer a muscle injury this season and was carried off on a stretcher clutching his hamstring four minutes before half-time.
In the duel between last season’s golden boot winner and the player who has scored one more than him this season, Dominic Calvert-Lewin got a chance to edge further clear of Vardy but, like the Leicester player earlier, headed straight at the goalkeeper after a fine cross from the right. Schmeichel made no mistake this time.
With Barnes having faded after his early burst, Maddison seemed the most likely source of creativity for the hosts but Everton, well organised and dynamic, kept close tabs on him. It is at times like these that the absences of full backs as intrepid as Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne are felt particularly acutely. Justin, mind you, has developed very impressively this season and made regular gains down the right, with Richarlison reluctant to track his runs. Ancelotti recognised that problem in the second half and switched Richarlson to the other flank, where Christian Fuchs was less adventurous, so that Alex Iwobi could deal with Justin.
Rodgers cast on Ayoze Pérez with half an hour to go in the hope the Spaniard would add creativity. But Leicester were undone by another of their recurring problems this season, as they conceded from a set piece in the 72nd minute. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s delivery from a corner was exceptional, and Schmeichel produced a pair of extraordinary saves, first to block Michael Keane’s header and then to push Calvert-Lewin’s follow-up on to the bar. But the goalkeeper was helpless to stop Holgate from ramming the next rebound into the net from close range.
Leicester were denied a route back into the game when referee Lee Mason reversed a penalty decision in the 84th minute after checking André Gomes’s challenge on Pérez on the screen by the side of the pitch. – Guardian