Leicester City qualify for FA Cup quarter final, beat Sheffield United 1 – 0

Jamie Vardy scores for Leicester against Sheffield United
Jamie Vardy scores for Leicester against Sheffield United
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WISE old owl Jamie Vardy soared to head home the second half winner which sent Leicester City into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Blades fans should have known they were tempting fate when they taunted Sheffield-born Vardy with chats of Wednesday reject after he blew a couple of first half chances.

However the England striker has come a long way since he was released by his first senior club Sheffield Wednesday as a raw 16-year-old.

And he rammed their words down their throats after 67 minutes when he leapt to meet Riyad Mahrez’s deep cross and looped a header over Jamal Blackman to settle this fifth round tie.

Chris Wilder’s battling Blades did their best to fight back and it took a wonder save from Kasper Schmeichel to deny Geroge Baldock an equaliser six minutes later, when the Dane somehow turned his shot wide.

Vardy was then denied a second when he fired home from close range, only to be ruled offside, before leaving to a standing ovation as he was replaced by Marc Albrighton.

Amazingly, despite scoring 75 goals for the Foxes, Vardy’s winner was his first FA Cup goal for Leicester – in fact his record with Fleetwood was much better when he scored three goals in four games!

They may have ridden their luck at times but overall this was a pretty comfortable win for Claude Puel’s side who look well capable of giving the Frenchman his second crack at a Wembley final in a year, after taking Southampton to the Carbao Cup final last season.

He has become a firm favourite with Foxes fans who cheered him off at the final whistle.

However the warmest reception from Foxes fans was saved for Riyad Mahrez who had clearly been forgiven for his recent off-field shenanigans.

He was given a huge ovation when he was substituted in the dying minutes, after setting up Vardy’s winner.

He may have openly flirted with Manchester City in front of a watching world. But like a forgiving lover, Leicester fans seem content to turn a blind eye to the odd indiscretion from their little treasure.

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Perhaps they suspect the fickle Algerian will be off for good in the summer and simply want to savour this special talent while he remains shackled to his current deal, which still has two and a half years to run.

However the smart money is on this being Mahrez’s last campaign and a deal might just have been struck between the club and Mahrez’s ‘people’ to let him leave if Leicester’s £90million valuation is met during the close season.

The winger’s task now is to make sure he lives up to that price tag if he is really serious about moving on.

He went about it the right way here as he pulled the strings on a night when the Blades did their best to blunt his cutting edge.

Chances were few and far between during a keenly contested first half. But if there was a bum’s off seats moment, Mahrez was generally involved.

After six minutes he set up Kelechi Iheanacho for the first real chance of the night but the striker, who has scored nine goals in his last nine FA Cup ties fired wide for once.

Chris Wilder’s side were thumped 4-1 here in the Carabao Cup in August but they were giving as good as they got and Kasper Schmeichel had to look sharpish to save when James Wilson tried to catch him out at his near post with an ambitious effort.

Leicester’s best efforts of the half fell to Jamie Vardy who took Demarai Gray’s pass in his stride before curling a right-foot shot just wide of Jamal Blackman’s far post.

That miss was met with chants of: “Wednesday reject,” as the bumper Blades’ support reminded Vardy of his less than glorious past with their city rivals.

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