Nigeria’s Iheanacho’s penalty kick hands Community Shield to Leicester City


Photo: Nigerian International Iheanacho grabs the headlines again with loan goal win for club in the Community Shield

Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho was the hero as his late penalty kick gave Leicester City a 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield on Saturday in London.

The goal by the former Manchester City striker, who departed the Etihad Stadium four years ago, settled a generally lacklustre curtain-raiser to the new domestic season at Wembley.

Iheanacho came off the bench in the 79th minute and was brought down by Nathan Ake in the closing minutes.

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A scorer of 19 goals for the Foxes last term, Iheanacho calmly slotted the ball beyond goalkeeper Zack Steffen from 12 yards out to hand the FA Cup winners the spoils.

With record-signing Jack Grealish named on the bench and a host of first-team regulars unavailable yet, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola handed starts to youngsters Cole Palmer and Samuel Edozie.

Palmer demonstrated good strength to rob Wilfred Ndidi of possession in the 27th minute before Ilkay Gundogan fed Edozie, who could only fire wide of the target with the angle closing.

Steffen then came to his side’s rescue in the dying moments of the first half with a tremendous reflex save to tip Jamie Vardy’s volley onto the post following a quick counter-attack.

The reigning English Premier League (EPL) champions then saw a great chance go begging 14 minutes after the restart as Ricardo Pereira’s error saw Riyad Mahrez race clear.

But Ndidi made up important ground and just about did enough to put off his former team-mate.

A penalty kick shootout loomed, until Iheanacho robbed the ball from Ake and was subsequently fouled, allowing him to score the winner against his old employers in the 89th minute.

It all meant the Foxes run away with another trophy, landing the first English silverware of the 2021/2022 season after a third successive victory at Wembley.

That was a place where Manchester City were now beaten for only the third time in their last 13 appearances.

The result continues an excellent run for the FA Cup-holders in the fixture.

Excluding 2019, when Manchester City appeared as double winners, the league champions have lost in six of the past seven campaigns.

The exception was when Guardiola’s team recorded a 2-0 win over Chelsea in 2018.

Iheanacho has now stepped up to deliver, when all eyes were on the potential impact of Grealish, who completed his British-record transfer from Aston Villa earlier this week.

The Nigerian International, who was introduced into proceedings, claimed the headlines  as he looked lively and forced the error from Ake which led to the winner.

It was his one and only attempt on goal, while he had just eight total touches in his crucial cameo.

Manchester City’s Torres has however failed to impress, after being handed an opportunity to stake his claim to start as the spearhead of the forward line.

This is following Sergio Aguero’s departure at the end of another championship-winning season.

The Spaniard was unable to capitalise, with just 15 touches and eight attempted passes before being replaced after 74 minutes, while he failed to register a single shot on goal.

It was the type of performance that could encourage his club to step up their interest in Harry Kane.

Leicester City now begin their 2021/2022 EPL campaign at home to Wolves next Saturday, with Manchester City launching their title defence away at Tottenham the following day.(dpa)

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