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Match Report: Chelsea 5-2 Leicester City (Leicester Fan's Perspective)

Sunday 18th March 2012
Chelsea progressed to the semi-finals of the F.A Cup after an entertaining 5-2 victory over a battling Leicester City.

Chelsea named a weakened, yet characteristically strong side with Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, and Daniel Sturridge all featuring in Roberto Di Matteo's starting 11. The temporary manager made seven changes from the team that successfully overcame Napoli in last week's Champions League encounter, with David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, and Michael Essien all becoming benchwarmers.

Leicester City unsurprisingly fielded their strongest line-up, with manager Nigel Pearson choosing to only make one change from last Tuesday's 3-1 win over Birmingham City. Tom Kennedy was replaced at left-back by Paul Konchesky returning from a three game suspension.

The match started with Chelsea advancing towards the Leicester City goal on numerous occasions, only to be let down by an array of lacklustre efforts on goal by the offensive pairing of Torres and Sturridge. Chelsea finally kick-started their goal tally, with a well taken header from centre-back Gary Cahill finding it's way between Leicester's Richie Wellens at the back post and a static Kasper Schmeichel in the centre of the goalmouth. Furthermore for Chelsea, and football as a whole, Cahill's goal provided opportunity to show support for critically ill Bolton Wanderers midfield Fabrice Muamba, with the England international revealing the words 'Pray For Muamba' printed on his under-armour.

Not to be disheartened by a woeful defensive effort that yielded Chelsea's opening goal, Leicester began to push, with Paul Konchesky and Lloyd Dyer pressurising a strong Chelsea defence in pursuit of an equaliser. Pearson's men were ultimately victims of their own demise though, as a scintillating run from Torres on the counter attack allowed the goal deprived striker to breeze past Wellens and cross to an awaiting Salomon Kalou in the penalty area, who calmly tucked the ball away to give the home side a two goal advantage.

With nothing to lose, Pearson ordered his men to continue to pressurise Chelsea, with Neil Danns pulling the strings in midfield to enable wide men Dyer and Gallagher to supply crosses. This subsequently caused a handful of corners, but the visitors regrettably wasted their set-piece opportunities. It was Danns himself who went closest for Leicester, with a drilled effort from 15 yards deflected away from an alert Cech between the goalposts.

On the cusp of half-time Torres nearly put the game to bed with a well taken header crashing into the gloves of Schmeichel, restoring some dignity to his uncharacteristically poor first half performance.

After a comfortable opening half Di Matteo made one change at the break, replacing Mata with Florent Malouda to rest the Spaniard ahead of the league clash with Manchester City on Wednesday.

The second half began very much in contrast to the first, a slow-paced encounter full of midfield possession and very little in the way of attacking threat. It took a heated encounter between Wellens and Chelsea right-back Branislav Ivanovic to reignite the crowd, with Wellens dispossessing an oblivious Ivanovic with a well timed slide tackle, to the annoyance of Ivanovic. The Serbian's subsequent elbow to Wellens' back prompted a free-kick in favour of Leicester, and sent the 6,000 visiting fans once again into a flurry of excitement and chanting.

With the 'nothing to lose' mentality instilled in their mentality, Pearson's men continued to push forward with the manager swapping wingers Dyer and Peltier, who replaced an injured Gallagher before half-time, in an attempt to add variety to the attack. Sean St.Ledger and Konchesky also helped fuel the revolt against the Premier League side, with a number of pinpoint crosses and runs threatening Cech's clean sheet.

Jeffrey Schlupp's introduction on 63 minutes further enhanced City's attack, but it was Chelsea who yet again extended their lead with a rare and ridiculously overdue goal from Torres. The Spanish striker's effort from a square ball by Raul Meireles crept past an outstretched Schmeichel and trickled into the corner of the goal. As has often been the case this season with Torres, his build-up play and movement throughout the game warranted an eventual goal which, for the first time in six months, was granted.

City finally got on the scoresheet ten minutes later. After Danns' well struck shot rebounded off the left post FA Cup specialist Jermaine Beckford headed home from the edge of the six-yard box. It was the striker's 15th goal in his last 15 FA Cup appearances, and sent the travelling Foxes fans into a chorus of pandemonium.

Any hopes of a second half revival for Leicester however were well and truly buried on 85 minutes, after Torres once again swept aside adversity to score his second goal of the match. A precise header from the front post floated past Schmeichel once again, after Torres' fantastic movement allowed him to meet Meireles' corner.

Despite an emphatic scoreline, Leicester refused to lie down. Substitute Ben Marshall symbolised this with an unbelievable effort from 25 yards that crashed into the top left corner of the net off the woodwork.

The game's final stages were exciting, with Leicester still banging on the door for a third goal. Beckford's misjudged overhead effort and Danns' blocked strike left fans on the edge of their seats, before the fruitful paring of Torres and Meireles hammered the final nail in the coffin. Torres passed by the opportunity of a hat-rick and selflessly provided Meireles with an unmissable chance to make the score 5-2.

Chelsea ran out well deserved winners and progressed to the last four of the F.A Cup. This result put to bed the woes they have encountered of late and extended interim manager Roberto Di Matteo's win streak to four straight games, leaving Stamford Bridge full of promise and Chelsea's chance of silverware very much alive and kicking.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic (David Luiz 76), Cahill, Bosingwa, Bertrand, Mikel (Essien 63), Meireles, Mata (Malouda 46), Kalou, Sturridge, Torres.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, St.Ledger (Schlupp 63), Bamba, Morgan, Konchesky, Dyer, Danns, Wellens (Marshall 83), Gallagher (Peltier 43), Beckford, Nugent.
Joe Diamond
Im Joe- an aspiring Sports Journalist student who likes to rant, rave, review, preview, question, and support all things Football.

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