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Iheanacho aids  Leicester to rescue a point in basement clash at Leeds

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The scorer was veteran striker, Jamie Vardy. But the man who offered the valuable assist was Kelechi Iheanacho whose sublime manoeuvre split the Leeds United defence before laying a thrust to Vardy to complete the move.

The Nigerian striker subsequently limped off the pitch with an apparent groan injury. But great thanks to Verdy as he came off the bench to break his long scoring drought and earn his side a 1-1 draw with a late equaliser in a crunch relegation battle away to Leeds United in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Leeds were closing in on a much-needed three points in their quest for safety thanks to Luis Sinisterra’s 20th-minute header after Leicester’s Youri Tielemans had a goal ruled out.

The 36-year-old Vardy, who came on in the 70th minute, had other ideas though and fired past Leeds keeper Illan Meslier from James Maddison’s pass to rescue his side.

It was his first league goal since October and the former England striker thought he had given Leicester the lead shortly afterwards but his effort was ruled out for offside.

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A frantic finale saw Leicester keeper Daniel Iversen make an outstanding save to keep out Marc Roca’s close-range header before Leeds striker Patrick Bamford scuffed a glorious opportunity wide.

The result did little to ease either side’s relegation fears with Leicester remaining in 17th place with 29 points, one point ahead of third-from-bottom Everton who would move above them if they avoid defeat by Newcastle United on Thursday. Leeds have 30 points.

Second-from-bottom Nottingham Forest could also leapfrog Leicester if they win at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.

VARDY RAZOR SHARP

Vardy, whose goals powered Leicester to a fairytale title in 2016, has cut a frustrated figure this season and had not scored in any competition since a League Cup game in December.

But he looked razor sharp after interim manager Dean Smith sent him on and he drilled a low shot into the corner after a sweeping Leicester move ended with Maddison playing him in.

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“It could be massive. We have five cup finals left. We’ll enjoy the point tonight, then get back in and recover,” Vardy said. “I can’t say what I want to say on TV because I’ll get done but it’s been a weird season for me. Hopefully the goals keep coming.”

Defeat would have been harsh on Leicester who were denied an early lead when Tielemans seized on a loose ball and sent an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Sadly for the Belgian, a VAR check deemed Boubacary Soumare had been slightly offside in the build-up.

There was a nervous energy around Elland Road after three successive defeats but there was an explosion of relief when a superb move down the right saw Jack Harrison deliver a superb curling cross that Sinisterra headed down and into the net.

Javi Gracia’s Leeds seemed content to try to hang on to their slender advantage in the second half and, with Maddison pulling the strings, Leicester took charge.

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Meslier twice denied Kelechi Iheanacho, who went off injured, before Vardy’s crucial contribution.

It was arguably a better point for Leicester who should have a smoother run-in than Leeds who still have to play Manchester City and Newcastle United in their last five games.

“We try to put the past behind us, learn from our mistakes and continue on in a positive way,” Harrison said.

“We’re looking for every point we can get in this moment in time. It’s not what we wanted but we will take it.”

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Premier League

Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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