Football: Leicester City 1 Coventry City 0 - Izzet exposes blunt Sky Blues

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The Independent Online
SELLING DARREN Huckerby to Leeds might in the long run seem like good business on Coventry's part but they might have profitably used their former front-runner's pace last night as Leicester beat them through a first-half Muzzy Izzet penalty. The away side's cause was not helped by a red card for defender David Burrows after 70 minutes.

For Coventry, the night represented a first taste of life without Huckerby, whose transfer took place only hours before the match. The irony of the deal may have been in the mind of his ex-colleague, Noel Whelan, who had seemed to be attempting to sell himself to the Yorkshire club in comments made last weekend.

Huckerby's place here was occupied by Whelan's new acquaintance, Moustapha Hadji, although Coventry plan to re-invest the pounds 4m paid up front by Leeds. Gordon Strachan, the Coventry manager, impressed by how Hadji and Youssef Chippo, both full of tricks, have taken readily to the Premiership, would not mind another Moroccan.

But others share their gifts, including Izzet, Leicester's Turkish cockney, whose 24th-minute penalty goal rewarded an impressive piece of skill moments earlier, when he controlled a cross from Andy Impey with the deftest touch of the right boot and was unlucky not to score. On Leicester's next attack, Marc Edworthy tripped Neil Lennon and, from the spot, Izzet drilled the ball low to Magnus Hedman's right.

Earlier, Paul Telfer had headed a Steve Froggatt cross too close to Tim Flowers. Later, Hadji directed his header from a Paul Telfer centre wide of the post as Coventry continued where they had left off against Southampton last weekend, making chances but not taking them.

Leicester were disadvantaged by the absence of Emile Heskey, who needed more time to recover from the neck injury that put him in hospital last weekend. The workhorse Ian Marshall supported Tony Cottee in his place. Martin O'Neill has just bought another defender, Phil Gilchrist from Oxford, who made his debut as a substitute, but he really needs to find another forward to reward the endeavours of a talented midfield.

Such a player might have lifted this contest above the ordinary. Neither side could build many moves that did not break down prematurely and some petty squabbles kept the referee, Neale Barry, busy. He booked Chippo, Marshall and Froggatt for fouls, Lennon for arguing with a linesman.

The Scunthorpe official was in no mood for nonsense and took swift and decisive action to remove Burrows 20 minutes from time after the full- back had floored Robbie Savage with an arm across the throat.

Strachan now dispatched John Aloisi from the bench in the hope of salvaging a point. Instead, Cottee, flicking on Impey's cross, almost made Leicester comfortable, defied only by a brilliant save by Hedman.

Leicester City (3-5-2): Flowers; Sinclair, Elliott, Taggart (Gilchrist, 67); Impey, Savage, Izzet, Lennon, Guppy; Marshall (Campbell, 64), Cottee. Substitutes not used: Arphaxad (gk), Oakes, Zagorakis.

Coventry City (4-4-1-1): Hedman; Edworthy, Shaw, Williams, Burrows; Telfer, McAllister, Chippo, Froggatt (Aloisi, 77); Hadji; Whelan. Substitutes not used: Strachan, Konjic, Breen, Nuzzo (gk).

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).