Leicester vs Sunderland reaction: Fearless Foxes give Dick Advocaat reason to worry

Leicester City 4 Sunderland 2: Jamie Vardy inspires Foxes to first Premier League victory under Claudio Ranieri

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The Independent Online

Claudio Ranieri isn’t a manager who often gives in to bouts of egotism, but he would be forgiven for doing so after this 4-2 opening day defeat of Sunderland.

Leicester City’s decision to hire the modest 63-year-old was blasted as ‘uninspiring’ by honorary vice-president Gary Lineker last month.

However the ghost of former Foxes boss Nigel Pearson, who left under a cloud of uncertainty despite pulling off the greatest of great escapes, appears to have been exorcised swiftly.

The Italian, whose once illustrious CV was tarnished by the defeat to the Faroe Islands while in charge of crisis-hit Greece, appears to have embraced his predecessor’s legacy and strengthened it to devastating effect.

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Riyad Mahrez celebrates his first goal

Ranieri’s fellow older-statesman Dick Advocaat, four years his senior, on the other hand, turned down retirement with his wife for another crack at Premier League management with the Black Cats.

The Dutchman’s significant other, who was sent flowers by fans of the North East club after Advocaat revealed she had the deciding vote on his retirement plans, may now be regretting not sticking to her guns.

Leicester’s execution of the great escape last season was carried out with such attacking endeavour that many Filbert Way regulars may have feared Ranieri’s desire to ‘tinker’ may be deadly to their chances of survival. They may need not worry.

 

Two quick-fire headers - the first from England striker Jamie Vardy, the second courtesy of Riyad Mahrez - gave the ill-fancied Foxes a healthy advantage before the Algerian winger added a third after just 25 minutes.

A German-style tiffo display – which read: ‘Your colours are in our hands, our dreams are in yours’ - greeted the Leicester players as they emerged from the tunnel. The spirit of their heroics last season clearly remain intact.

Despite a typically raucous start from the hosts, it was Sunderland who threatened first with Jermain Defoe seizing on a loose ball to force Kasper Schmeichel into a point-blanc save at his near post.

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New boss Ranieri got off to the best possible start at Leicester

Adam Johnson’s resulting corner found the head of Younes Kaboul, signed from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, but Schmeichel was there to parry his tame effort.

Sebastian Coates, another summer acquisition after a decent loan spell last term, also failed to provide too much of a test for City's Danish goalkeeper with the rebound as Sunderland struggled to convert – despite being handed two bites of the cherry.

Meanwhile, some wondered if Vardy would cut a more reserved figure this term following his surprise call up to the England squad in May. Leicester fans can be assured his wasp-like qualities are going nowhere.

After ten minutes of hurrying the visitors’ defence into a succession of errors, the former Fleetwood Town striker latched onto a Marc Albrighton cross, glancing his header beyond Costel Pantilimon before somersaulting towards the corner flag.

In the battle of the managerial heavyweights, it was advantage to Ranieri.

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Jamie Vardy scores for Leicester

The fearless Foxes, losing none of the endeavour or industry which defined Pearson’s tenure, continued to press Advocaat’s men and could have doubled their early lead just seconds later.

Vardy cracked the lock to Sunderland’s shaky offside trap before driving in a low ball to new man Shinji Okazaki. The Japan forward, signed for £7m from Mainz, perhaps should have grabbed his first strike in English football from four yards out.

It isn’t known whether Mrs Advocaat was in the stands to witness her husband’s very public humiliation, eased by a steadier second-half showing, but the 67-year-old may have some explaining to do tonight.

Mahrez soon made it two. With the Black Cats’ defence in tatters, largely down to Vardy’s never-say-die attitude, all it took was a whipped cross from Albrighton to open the barrier as the former Le Havre man nodded home.

Lee Cattermole, a man who so often confounds Sunderland’s misery in times of need then stepped forward to haul Mahrez to the ground as Advocaat’s day descended into nightmare-territory.

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Lee Cattermole struggled to deal with England striker Jamie Vardy

The Algerian, who signed a new four-year contract in midweek, duly sent Pantilimon the wrong way. The disgraced Cattermole, the usual suspect of Premier League football, then left the field, replaced by Steven Fletcher, after just half-an-hour.

Leicester emerged from the interval with the same vigour which came to define their breakneck opening 45 minutes. First Mahrez hit the post after twisting and turning in the Sunderland box.

Then Vardy, a firm contender for man of the match, was left with his head in his hands as an opportunity, which looked easier to score, was squandered with acres of room to pick his spot.

The Istanbul-inspired fear which creeps into every football fan’s mind when their team hold a three-goal advantage remained. It was added to further when Defoe cut inside Ritchie De Laet to bullet an effort past Schmeichel in the 60th minute.

Normal service was resumed in due course, at least temporarily.

The superb Albrighton benefited from the tireless efforts of Jeff Schlupp down the left flank before fizzing a low drive past Pantilimon from outside the Sunderland area.

The merry-go-round continued in earnest, much to Ranieri’s evident dismay, as the Black Cats grabbed another consolation goal through Scotland striker Fletcher. But Ranieri’s day wasn’t to be ruined.

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