Euro Football

Rodgers hails ‘phenomenal’ match-winner Kelechi Iheanacho

Brendan Rodgers has hailed the impact of Kelechi Iheanacho for Leicester, calling the striker ‘phenomenal’.

The 24-year-old continued his stunning form on Monday night as the Foxes beat Crystal Palace 2-1.

He bagged a goal and an assist, taking his tally to 17 for the season and helping Leicester within touching distance of a Champions League finish.

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Leicester got off to a poor start at the King Power as Wilfried Zaha opened the scoring for Palace.

A high line saw Zaha played onside and he was found by Ebere Eze. The Ivorian beat Kasper Schmeichel with a cool finish to make it 1-0.

Leicester were behind at the interval but pulled one back just five minutes after the restart.

Iheanacho was involved as always, laying off Timothy Castagne as he lashed past Vicente Guaita.

The striker then stepped up to provide a brilliant 80th-minute winner. He held off Patrick van Aanholt, got a yard from Scott Dann and then fired a fierce drive into the roof of the net.

After the game, Rodgers told BBC Sport: “It was a very important win for us. It was the third game in nine days so a tough schedule.

“Going one behind against a Roy [Hodgson] team, they’re super organised and tough to break down. I thought the players were outstanding. They kept the calmness and control and scored two very good goals.

“[Scoring early into the second half] definitely helps. It sets us up. It settled us. We could then control the rest of the game.

“[Iheanacho’s goal was] incredible. Great pass by Jonny [Evans]. We told the strikers to find space in between the centre-backs and full-backs. It was a great ball into space. The skill to turn and finish quickly, a wonderful goal. It capped off a great night for him.

“The top priority for me as a coach is helping players to develop. It’s been difficult for Kelechi because of the style we normally played which was one striker – Jamie Vardy. We had to change it round with injuries, he’s come in and been exceptional. Not just his goals. He’s so happy to work hard for the team and his quality is phenomenal.”

Last season saw Leicester drop out of the top four following a poor run-in.

When asked about the same happening this term, Rodgers said: “We spoke about it at the start of the season and put it to bed then. Our performance levels this season have shown that’s in the past.”

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