Football: Heskey's highlight

Coventry City 0 Leicester City 1 Heskey 60 Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 22,021
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The Independent Online
THIS WAS not Coventry's day. Having lost their impressive Belgian Under-21 striker, Cedric Roussel, to a first-half head injury, they surrendered their seven-match unbeaten record to a breathtaking second-half goal from England's blossoming 22-year-old, Emile Heskey.

The young man pushing hardest for Kevin Keegan's attention struck the decisive blow after an hour dominated by Coventry, who probably deserved better. The result lifts Leicester into the top six - territory coveted by their Midlands neighbours after their recent progress but which remains, for the moment, out of reach.

The result was never going to disturb Gordon Strachan's sang-froid, in any event. The talk around Coventry may have been about sights set on Europe but it is not a matter their manager is willing to discuss. Strachan has already reminded the Premiership's most frequent relegation candidates that their first target is survival.

Coventry's recent form has been impressive, especially now that the physical presence of Carlton Palmer in midfield is allowing Gary McAllister renewed freedom of expression. Even with his 35th birthday looming, the former Scotland captain still has few peers as a director of play.

It was from one of McAllister's sweeping diagonal passes that the unfortunate Roussel, later to be carried off with a head injury, went close to giving his side the lead after 22 minutes of a half in which most of the chances were Coventry's but Leicester wasted the best.

The Belgian striker's volley went the wrong side of the post but there were other times when Tim Flowers needed to be on his toes, notably when Gary Breen headed Paul Telfer's free-kick and when Robbie Keane met Youssef Chippo's cross with a low shot.

Roussel's part in the contest ended after a clash of heads with Chippo. Moments later, Breen's failure to clear Andrew Impey's cross handed a golden chance to Tony Cottee to put the visitors undeservedly ahead but the normally dependable Leicester forward blazed over the bar from no more than six yards.

The second half brought more difficult moments for Leicester, who were indebted first to Impey for sticking in a foot to deny Mustapha Hadji a close-range shot and to Flowers after a rapid counter attack created a shooting chance for Steve Froggatt, who had replaced the full-back David Burrows in a bold move by Strachan.

Then, out of the blue, Leicester took a 60th-minute lead. Heskey, receiving the ball 20 yards out with his back to goal after Leicester broke out of defence, seemed to have few options but the speed at which he turned took defenders by surprise and his powerful right-foot strike left the goalkeeper Magnus Hedman open-mouthed.

Coventry responded aggressively, with Whelan and Palmer earning yellow cards, and were so incensed when Impey's challenge on Hadji did not bring a penalty that Keane was booked for dissent.

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