EPL

Bournemouth 1 Leicester City 0: Pugh strike gives Premier League champions reality check

Leicester City were given a reality check on Tuesday as they followed up their impressive dismantling of Manchester City with an underwhelming 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

The Premier League champions wowed in Saturday’s 4-2 win over City and showed glimpses of the form which secured their historic title success, but they struggled to replicate that display at the Vitality Stadium and rarely looked like completing back-to-back top-flight wins for the first time since April.

Although Leicester started brightly, Bournemouth got to grips with their visitors soon enough and afforded them few opportunities, with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy – confirmed seventh and eighth respectively in the 2016 Ballon d’Or on Monday – particularly quiet.

Marc Pugh’s 34th-minute strike gave Bournemouth the lead they deserved during a strong first-half display, as the hosts made the most of Leicester’s passive performance.

Leicester mustered a collective improvement after the break but they rarely looked menacing in attack despite getting men forward in numbers on occasion

Their desperate late efforts amounted to something of an aerial bombardment, but Bournemouth dealt with the approach with ease and ultimately held on to a win that lifts them to eighth in the table.

Leicester were 2-0 up inside five minutes against Pep Guardiola’s men at the weekend and they began with similar purpose at the Vitality Stadium.

Vardy was the first to trouble Bournemouth, racing on to Mahrez’s through pass and seeing his eventual shot blocked by Steve Cook after skipping beyond Artur Boruc.

Islam Slimani should have done better shortly after, completely missing the ball in the centre of the box following a pinpoint Marc Albrighton delivery.

Bournemouth gradually started to exert control, with Jack Wilshere forcing Ron-Robert Zieler into action 21 minutes in – the German saving the 20-yard effort down to his left.

The hosts were not to be denied just after the half-hour mark, though.

Zieler initially made a smart save to deny Benik Afobe from Adam Smith’s cut-back, but Pugh – making his first start of the season – latched on to the rebound on the edge of the area and produced a half-volley which found the net despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

Claudio Ranieri – taking charge of his 200th Premier League match – withdrew the ineffective Slimani at the break and introduced Shinji Okazaki, but still Bournemouth looked the more likely to find the net and they almost did in the 52nd minute.

Simon Francis pulled the ball back to the edge of the area and Smith sent his curling effort agonisingly over.

Leicester did enjoy some pressure towards the end and Robert Huth saw a header go just wide of the left-hand post.

Bournemouth were then forced to rely upon Boruc in stoppage time, when the Polish goalkeeper kept out Leonardo Ulloa’s point-blank effort to effectively secure all three points.

 

Key Opta Stats

– Bournemouth are the 36th different side that Leicester have lost to in the Premier League.
– The Cherries have won as many home games in their last seven Premier League games (W5) as they did in their first 20 in the competition.
– Leicester’s return of one point from their first eight away games of the season is the lowest total by a defending top-flight champion.
– Claudio Ranieri is the first Italian manager to reach 200 Premier League games (146 for Chelsea, 54 for Leicester City).
– The Foxes haven’t won a Premier League away trip since April (10 games without a win), their longest run since October 2003 (a run of 16 away games without victory).

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