Football: Heskey's highlight

oventry 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 Belgian under-21 striker, Cedric Roussel, to a first-half head injury, they surrendered their seven-match unbeaten run 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 after an hour to forge a result that lifts Leicester to fifth place. Receiving the ball with his back to goal some 20 yards out, Heskey caught Coventry's defenders by surprise with the speed of his turn and left their goalkeeper, Magnus Hedman, open-mouthed with the ferocity of his shot. He earned high praise from Martin O'Neill, the Leicester manager, but Gordon Strachan was no less generous.

"Overall it was probably the best performance by a striker against us this season," Strachan said. "At times he seemed to be waging a one-man war against our back four. It was the sort of game often decided by one moment of brilliance and it was the big lad who provided it."

The unfortunate Roussel went close to putting his side ahead after 22 minutes when Gary McAllister, spraying passes as impressively as ever, picked him out with a wonderful diagonal ball. The striker, on long-term loan from Ghent, fired a volley just the wrong side of the post and there were other occasions when Tim Flowers needed to be on his toes, notably when Gary Breen's header bounced in front of him and when Robbie Keane met Youssef Chippo's cross with an awkward low shot. Roussel's participation was ended by a clash of heads with Chippo. He left on a stretcher but fortunately the damage was not serious.

Moments later came Leicester's best chance of the first half. Breen's failure to clear Andrew Impey's cross handed a golden chance to Tony Cottee but the Leicester forward, normally so dependable in such situations, 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 then to Flowers after a rapid counter- attack created a shooting chance for Steve Froggatt, who had replaced the full-back David Burrows at half-time. Flowers spilled the winger's effort but scrambled to retrieve the ball even with Noel Whelan and Keane flying in boots first.

Then, out of the blue, or rather the yellow of Leicester's away strip, came Heskey's strike, his first in the Premiership for three months. "He does need to score a few more," O'Neill said. "But he has all the attributes of a top-class striker and that was a brilliant goal. He just needs to be a bit more selfish and try his luck more often."

Coventry were incensed when Impey's challenge on Hadji did not bring a penalty but, given that Leicester had seen two reasonable penalty appeals of their own waved away, they could not feel hard done to. "The difference was that their quality players did better than ours," Strachan said.