Gallagher's lucky break sparks Foxes free-for-all
Leicester City 5 Doncaster 1
Sunday 12 December 2010
Rampant Leicester racked up their biggest win for Sven Goran Eriksson with some impressive uninhibited attacking football to overpower Doncaster and underline the potential of their promotion ambitions, even though it took a controversial penalty award to kick-start the rout.
Leicester were a goal behind and lucky not to have conceded more when referee James Linington handed them an opportunity two minutes into first-half stoppage time, ruling that Neil Sullivan had led with his feet when his challenge brought down Leicester substitute Lloyd Dyer, even though the veteran goalkeeper claimed the ball with his hands simultaneously.
The Isle of Wight official waved away Doncaster's protests before Paul Gallagher emphatically scored from the spot to leave the visitors even more deflated that a seventh-minute goal from Billy Sharp had been their sole reward from a first half in which they would have had three goals, at least, had James Hayter and David Healy also made Leicester pay for some slack defending.
Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll said he was "gobsmacked" by the decision and even Eriksson conceded it "looked harsh". Whatever the verdict, it changed the tempo and balance of the match and Leicester took full advantage, presenting Eriksson with his biggest win as a manager since England's 5-1 rout against Germany in Munich in September 2001.
"When two players go for the ball there is going to be a collision but Neil won the ball so how it warranted a penalty I don't know," O'Driscoll said. "I was surprised when I saw it the first time. When I saw it played back at half-time I was gobsmacked. We tried to get the players to forget it at half-time but clearly did not succeed because we lost our shape and discipline in the second half and paid the price."
Eriksson likes his teams to attack and the second half was at times almost reminiscent of the early days in his Manchester City tenure as Leicester's movement tore holes in Doncaster's shellshocked defence. After Greg Cunningham had hit the bar from a free- kick, Richie Wellens put them in front against his former club, cashing in on Doncaster's dithering to pick his spot from 25 yards before full back Kyle Naughton ran on to a Wellens pass to make it 3-1.
Darius Vassell added the fourth – his first for Leicester – from a Dyer pass before substitute Martyn Waghorn scored the fifth in stoppage time, following up after the excellent Andy King, put through by Waghorn, had hit a post. "We did not play well in the first half but in the second half we were not good, we were brilliant," Eriksson enthused.
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