Leicester driven to distraction by Drulic

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The Independent Online

Red Star Belgrade 3 Leicester City 1 Red Star win 4-2 on aggregate

Red Star Belgrade 3 Leicester City 1 Red Star win 4-2 on aggregate

Neutral territory it may have been, but the home of Rapid Vienna echoed to the sound of mutual contempt last night. When the hoots of derision and racist chanting finally subsided, Leicester's participation in the Uefa Cup ended with it.

Red Star, a splendidly fluid side fired by a sense of grievance that took in Uefa and Nato as well as the Premiership's joint leaders, deservedly became to first side to lower Leicester's colours this season. Goran Drulic, a 23-year-old striker, scored twice and made the other goal as the Yugoslav champions swept into today's second-round draw.

Muzzy Izzet cancelled out Drulic's early goal but Red Star regained the initiative immediately after half-time through Ivan Gvozdenovic. After Drulic added a third, the contest closed to cries of "Serbia, Serbia" and "Yu-go-slavia".

The undercurrent of hostility, the legacy of a fractious first leg and Uefa's decision to switch the match from the Yugoslav capital, surfaced beforehand in the form of skirmishes outside the ground. As kick-off approached, a section of Leicester's 1,900-strong following traded insults with their Serbian counterparts, who outnumbered them by around four to one.

After a flare was hurled from the Red Star ranks into the stand allocated to English supporters, John Elsom, the Leicester chairman, went on to the pitch and took to the PA system. He appealed for calm, warning that "bad headlines" could damage the club.

When the legitimate hostilities commenced, Leicester endured a torrid opening in which Drulic volleyed narrowly wide after two minutes. Their every touch brought a storm of whistling, with the two black players, Andrew Impey and Ade Akinbiyi, taunted by "monkey" grunts.

Leicester gradually asserted themselves in midfield, and a strong break by Izzet spelled danger before he was crowded out. But a poor pass by Robbie Savage undermined their recovery and led to Red Star's 22nd-minute opener.

Goran Bunjevcevic, inside his own half, launched a long pass which split Matt Elliott and Gerry Taggart. Drulic left the pair floundering as he burst into the penalty area before angling a low shot beyond Tim Flowers.

The goal was the prelude to a barrage of flares, one landing near Flowers and another among the Leicester fans. It was also the signal for Peter Taylor's team to come out smoking, Darren Eadie dragging one good chance wide and heading Steve Guppy's cross against a post before the equaliser arrived.

A timely goal it was, too. Only three minutes of the first half remained as another Guppy centre swung in. Robbie Savage, whose fierce challenge had just ended Dejan Ilic's part in the game, failed to connect. Izzet, seizing on the loose ball barely a yard from goal, dispatched it into the roof of the net.

Red Star almost regained their advantage in stoppage time, Bunjevcevic unleashing a drive which beat Flowers only to clip his left-hand upright.

Leicester's luck deserted them in the 47th minute. Drulic, within shooting range, rolled the ball wide to Gvozdenovic, who had been played onside by Izzet. As the Turkish international tried to cover the line, a rising drive flashed across him into the far corner of the net.

Flowers had to dive full length to push behind a swerving long-range effort by Branko Boskovic, but was helpless as Mihajlo Pjanovic's header missed by inches.

However, the game was up for Leicester with 19 minutes left. Pjanovic cut in from the rightbefore feeding Drulic, who buried a low drive from 15 yards.

Red Star Belgrade (3-4-1-2): Kocic; Lalatovic, G Bunjevcevic, Vitakic; Markovic, Ilic (Bajcetic, 43), Lerinc (Boskovic, 61), Gvozdenovic; Acimovic (Zoric, 82); Drulic, Pjanovic. Substitutes not used: Matijasevic, Mirkovic, Stevanovic, Pesic (gk).

Leicester City (3-5-2): Flowers; Rowett, Elliott, Taggart; Impey, Lennon, Izzet, Savage, Guppy (Davidson, 78); Akinbiyi (Gunnlaugsson, 78), Eadie (Cresswell, 58). Substitutes not used: Gilchrist, Oakes, Benjamin, Royce (gk).

Referee: P Rodomonti (Italy).

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