Kasper Schmeichel, Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes impressed even as Leicester City were held to a 2-2 draw by Napoli on Thursday.
Leicester were hot off the gates and nearly got an early goal through Harvey Barnes. The English international, though, was to turn provider soon, setting up Ayoze Perez for the opener in the 9th minute. Napoli, though, soon found their feet and ended the first half the stronger of the two sides, with only the brilliance of Kasper Schmeichel keeping the visitors at bay.
Luciano Spalletti’s men continued to probe for the equaliser, but Leicester grabbed a foothold against the run of play around the hour mark. Patson Daka first got a goal ruled out for the most marginal of calls before Leicester finally doubled their advantage through Barnes, who finished off a fine counter-attacking move.
However, Napoli got the goals their gameplay had deserved all night long, with Victor Osimhen first pulling one back midway through the second half before doubling his and his team’s tally late on to ensure a share of the spoils. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Brendan Rodgers’s men after a disappointing draw in the UEFA Europa League.
Kasper Schmeichel: 8/10
One could say that Schmeichel could have perhaps done better to keep out one of the two efforts by Victor Osimhen. However, without him, Leicester were definitely losing this game, as big saves to deny Piotr Zielinski and Hirving Lozano ensured Leicester were still ahead at the break.
Timothy Castagne: 6/10
Surprisingly solid by Castagne, who produced a massive block in the first half to keep out an effort by Zielinski. However, the Belgian international struggled to make an impact going forward, failing to create any notable chance. The defensive output, though, is promising.
Jonny Evans: 5.5/10
An important game as Evans continues to build his fitness and sharpness upon his return from a long injury layoff. There were a few hair moments here and there, but Evans appeared to be slowly growing in the game before being taken off at half-time for Caglar Soyuncu.
Jannik Vestergaard: 5/10
A game to forget for Vestergaard, who just could not manage to keep a check on Osimhen and his physicality. The Dane did complete six clearances but was dribbled past by a Napoli attacker an alarming four times. Needs to pull his socks up now.
Ryan Bertrand: 5/10
Making a rare start, Bertrand looked off pace at times while also struggling to provide an outlet in the final third. His pass completion rate was a disappointing 74 percent, with the experienced left-back losing the ball as many as 15 times. Has to do better to feature more regularly.
Ayoze Perez: 8/10
Leicester City's record when Ayoze Perez has scored since his move from Newcastle in 2019:
◉ 8 games
◉ 8 wins
◉ 11 goals
And he's scored again tonight. 😏 pic.twitter.com/Qyu68VjDLb
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 16, 2021
Perez has been in need of an inspiration for some time now, and this was a purposeful showing that earned him the just reward. Did well to power home the opener and had an effort blocked later on. His passing, though, left a lot to be desired at times. Still, this was a step in the right direction.
Wilfred Ndidi: 5/10
Ndidi can consider himself to be unfortunate for being shown the first yellow card in the first half. However, after already being in the book, better sense should have prevailed when he made the challenge that earned him a second yellow. Otherwise, the Nigerian midfielder was as solid as ever, completing five interceptions while also completing most of his attempted passes.
Boubakary Soumare: 6/10
A decent enough display by Soumare, who showed a few promising signs in link-up play, although his passing became more passive and risk-free as the game progressed. Put in the hard yards off the ball, but lost a few too many 50-50 moments.
Harvey Barnes: 8/10
Barnes had been simmering up until now and it was clear that a big performance was just around the corner. And Thursday’s game provided just that, with the English international in his elements. He first came close to scoring early on before setting Perez up for the opener. The cherry on top, though, was a fine finish for the second Leicester goal, finishing off a pass by Kelechi Iheanacho.
Harvey Barnes has scored his first goal for Leicester City since the 2-1 win over Aston Villa in February.
Announcing his return from injury. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/bdCLwEGFgN
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 16, 2021
Patson Daka: 6/10
A promising showing by Daka, who would feel unlucky to not have a goal against his name after having bundled the ball into the net at the hour mark. Linked up well with Iheanacho and Barnes for much of the game before being taken off for Lookman.
Kelechi Iheanacho: 6/10
Handed what is now becoming a rare start, Iheanacho played like he had a point to prove. He did impress a fair bit as well, playing a couple of key passes while grabbing the assist for Barnes’s goal. However, he was oddly reluctant to take aim at goal, even when in decent positions, which docks the rating slightly.
Caglar Soyuncu: 4/10
Soyuncu replaced Evans at half-time but could not really manage to add the solidity necessary at the heart of the Leicester defence. A poor showing was then capped off with a weak effort to rise up to the aerial ball that was converted by Osimhen for the equaliser. Too inconsistent for his own good these days.
Youri Tielemans: 5/10
A game of hits and misses for Tielemans. The Belgian international started off strongly before losing the plot as the Napoli onslaught began. An uncharacteristic pass completion rate of 75 percent is testament to that while his defensive work was somewhat sub-par as well.
Ademola Lookman: 6/10
On for Daka, Lookman showed some flashes of what he is capable of but never really threatened the Napoli defence.
James Maddison: N/A
Introduced in place of Soumare as Rodgers sought a better creative output, his arrival was left too late, as Napoli were in continuous ascendancy at that point.
Jamie Vardy: N/A
A late introduction, Vardy barely had time to make an impact.