Jamie Vardy scored his first goal since November as Leicester, the Championship leaders, weathered a storm from Birmingham, strugglers in the same division, to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 win at the King Power Stadium.
Birmingham, unbeaten in four matches since Tony Mowbray succeeded Wayne Rooney, had dominated the first-half opportunities. Jay Stansfield hit the post and Jakub Stolarczyk, the Leicester keeper, had to make five saves in the opening 45.
After a clearly unimpressed Leicester manager, Enzo Maresca, made three half-time substitutions, bringing on James Justin, Ricardo Pereira and Kasey McAteer, it was the old firm of Marc Albrighton, 34, and Vardy, 37, who broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half. The veteran winger’s cross from the right wing found an unmarked Vardy to nod in his first FA Cup goal since 2018. He was soon denied a second when the offside flag was raised.
That did not affect Birmingham as they continued to rain down shots on the Leicester goal, only to concede another in the 72nd minute. Yunus Akgun, on loan from Galatasaray, fired a rocket past John Ruddy from the edge of the area to double the home team’s advantage.
Birmingham’s fire now extinguished, it was left to Dennis Praet to complete the win with a neat finish from a Tom Cannon cut-back two minutes from time.
In another all-Championship tie, Leedsdominated Plymouthin the first half at Elland Road but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw. Georginio Rutter’s header forced the Argyle keeper, Conor Hazard, into a smart save and then the same Leeds forward saw his cross drift off the crossbar. Hazard made another fine first-half save, this time from Wilfried Gnonto.
In the 31st minute, Jaidon Anthony, on loan from Bournemouth, scored for Leeds, completing a slaloming solo run through Plymouth’s defence with a crashing right-foot shot and then celebrated with an emotional tribute to his mother, who died recently. The referee, Lancashire’s Lewis Smith, booked him for taking off his shirt to reveal the message.
Leeds failed to convert their territorial dominance into a clear lead and Adam Randell, on as a second-half sub, completed an end-to-end counterattack to shoot pass Ilan Meslier after Matt Butcher had sent Mustapha Bundu, another sub, away down the left.
Plymouth scored their 73rd-minute goal during a spell when Ian Foster, appointed this month, made changes.
In a helter-skelter finish, Patrick Bamford, on as a late sub, from a Junior Firpo pass, was denied by the excellent Hazard, who had made a series of fine saves. A replay means Leeds will have to make two long trips to Devon in February: a Championship encounter between the clubs is scheduled for 17 February, a Saturday lunchtime kick-off. An extra match will be an unwelcome addition to Leeds’ workload as they battle for an automatic promotion place.
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