Leicester City sealed their place in the sixth round of the FA Cup on Friday night by beating Championship club Sheffield United by a solitary goal at the King Power Stadium.
Jamie Vardy's second half header was the difference between the two sides, who put on an entertaining contest to keep their respective cup dreams alive.
Riyad Mahrez was making his first start for Leicester since January 20th, and was welcomed back into the fold despite disappearing on the club after they rejected a series of transfer bids from Man City last month. While he clearly has his sights set on leaving, Mahrez was imperious throughout the game, and it was his quality assist for Vardy which made the difference.
The hosts had the better of the first half, going close a couple of times through usual thorn-in-the-side-of-opposing-teams, Vardy. The England man flashed a shot just wide of the post after a quarter of an hour as Leicester looked for the breakthrough, but it was Wilfred Ndidi who would later put Jamal Blackman to work in the visitors' goal.
His tidy effort from outside the box came at a decent height for the Chelsea loanee, who was able to parry away, but it was Vardy once more who perhaps had the best chance of the first half ten minutes before the interval.
After breaking the Blades' offside trap and working himself some space, Vardy found himself through on goal and free down the left hand channel - played in by Mahrez. Blackman, however, was equal to the task and got down low to keep the match level.
United's best chance of the first half came between Leicester's opportunities, but the Foxes had Harry Maguire - playing against his former club - to thank for not falling behind. It was his block of Enda Stevens' shot from close range which denied an almost certain goal, as Kasper Schmeichel scrambled.
Foxes keeping the pressure on as we approach the hour mark at King Power Stadium.— Leicester City (@LCFC) February 16, 2018
Mahrez is causing problems on the run while Vardy's pace almost created an opening for Iheanacho, but still no breakthrough.#LeiShu pic.twitter.com/6PPvAemSFc
Welsh international David Brooks was brought on at half time by Chris Wilder, in an attempt to change things in the final third for the Championship outfit. He wouldn't have wanted his side to alter how they were doing things at the back though, and right through until the hour mark, they certainly didn't give much away.
United remained resolute as Leicester poked and scratched for the breakthrough, but they couldn't hold out any longer than the 66th minute. Vardy it was who got the goal, but he had Mahrez to thank for a wonderful assist.
The Algerian jinked for space on the right side and cut back onto his left foot, before curling a wonderful cross to the back post. Vardy met it - still with much to do - but he managed to loop his header back across goal, and over Blackman, to put the hosts in front. On reflection, it was deserved.
Leicester ramped up the pressure in the minutes that followed, and Blackman had to be at his best again to tip Demarai Gray's low shot around the post.
Mahrez has thought, moved and played quicker than anyone on the pitch. Conjured delicious assist for Vardy. Lit up the game.— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) February 16, 2018
He's right to think he can play for a 'bigger' club...and Leicester were right to want him for a little bit longer.
Schmeichel too had to stay on his toes though, and he was called into action shortly after to deny George Baldock. He could only manage to put his effort into the centre of the Dane's goal, but Schmeichel himself did an outstanding job in putting the ball out for a corner.
Vardy saw a goal ruled out for offside as the game drew to a close, and despite a late surge from the Blades, Claude Puel's side held on for victory.
Here's how #lcfc will line up for #LeiShu — Leicester City (@LCFC) February 16, 2018
Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan (c), Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, Iborra, Mahrez, Gray, Iheanacho, Vardy.
Subs: Hamer, Dragović, Fuchs, James, Silva, Albrighton, Diabaté. pic.twitter.com/u3CmFumUOm