Chelsea’s Kante refused to celebrate out of ‘respect’ for Leicester

  • Kante

Chelsea’s Kante refused to celebrate out of ‘respect’ for Leicester

N’Golo Kante says he did not celebrate after scoring against Leicester out of respect for his former side, as Chelsea beat the Foxes to climb into the top three.

Both sides struggled to find a finishing touch before Alvaro Morata nodded in Cesar Azpilicueta’s searching pass to put Chelsea ahead before half-time.

The visitors pressed home their advantage after the break as former Foxes midfielder Kante, gifted time and space, drilled home low from 30 yards.

In contrast to fellow ex-Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who received a mixed reception after his deadline-day move to Chelsea, Kante had earlier been warmly received by the Leicester crowd.

“It is always special to play my old team. I had an amazing year here but when I come I try to win,” said Kante, who was part of Leicester’s title-winning side.

“It is always a pleasure to score but I keep my celebration inside because I want to respect my old team.”

Chelsea appeared to be cruising to the points after Kante’s strike but a foul by Thibaut Courtois saw Leicester awarded a penalty that Jamie Vardy converted, sparking the hosts into life in a frenetic final half-hour.

But it was Chelsea substitute Willian who came closest to adding to the scoring with a curling strike just wide of the post.

Leicester, who slip to 17th, have now lost six of their last seven home games against Chelsea.

Chelsea end September blues

Prior to this match, Chelsea had not won a Premier League away fixture in September in any of the last four seasons – but Antonio Conte’s side have put in strong performances at the King Power in recent times.

They started brightly and dominated possession in the opening stages but the visitors’ finishing left something to be desired.

Morata was in the mix throughout the first half but was kept in check by Leicester captain Wes Morgan, who provided two crucial blocks in the box to deny him.

The Spaniard eventually got the best of their personal duel, peeling away from the veteran defender to guide a glancing header beyond Kasper Schmeichel from Azpilicueta’s pinpoint pass.

Kante’s strike against his former club – which Schmeichel, quite rightly, looked annoyed to have allowed past him – should have been the end of the match as a contest, but the visitors seemed to lose focus.

Courtois’ clumsy challenge on Vardy for the penalty handed Craig Shakespeare’s men a lifeline, but they could not use the momentum of that goal to claim an equaliser.

Conte’s introduction of Eden Hazard – returning after an ankle injury – and new signing Davide Zappacosta appeared to steady the visitors.

Zappacosta almost marked his debut with a goal after connecting with Hazard’s cross, but it was fellow substitute Willian who had the best chance late in the game when he fired Hazard’s pass low into Schmeichel’s gloves.

“It was a tough game. They had a lot of chances but we fight and had some chances but we won and that is the most important thing,” Kante added.

Leicester fall short

This is the first time the Foxes have lost three of their opening four top-flight fixtures since 1994-95 – a campaign that ended in relegation.

There is still a long way to go this term but Leicester seem to lack cohesiveness in the middle of the park, and Shakespeare was no doubt rueing the absence of Adrien Silva from his plans after the £22m midfielder’s transfer from Sporting Lisbon missed the deadline by 14 seconds.

With Japan forward Shinji Okazaki missing with jet lag, Islam Slimani partnered Vardy up front but they were starved of possession in the first half.

Riyad Mahrez’s direct running created a good opening for Slimani that Courtois did well to save, but any confidence Leicester gleaned from that moment was swiftly erased by Morata’s breakthrough goal shortly after.

Leicester stepped back defensively and, after gifting Cesc Fabregas too much room in the first half, did the same to Kante in the second, and their former star player duly punished them from distance.

Man of the match – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)