EFL

Enzo Maresca backs Patson Daka to keep his place in Leicester side

By Sports Desk December 13, 2023

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca says Patson Daka is capable of holding off Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho when both strikers are fit again after scoring in the 3-2 win over Millwall.

Zambia international Daka netted for the second game running as the Foxes came from behind to secure a victory which sent them back to the top of the Championship table, moving them one point ahead of Ipswich.

It was only Daka’s second start of the season after having to wait for his chance with injured Vardy and ill Iheanacho both missing.

Maresca confirmed that Vardy’s knee issue will keep him out of Monday’s match at Birmingham, now managed by Wayne Rooney, but Iheanacho is set to be available.

The Italian says Daka, who will go to the African Cup of Nations next month, deserves to stay in the team.

“I’ve been quite clear with them,” said Maresca.

“If you’re playing, you deserve it. If someone comes in and they’re doing well, you need to work.

“Patson is scoring goals and working hard, after three or four months of having to wait. We’re going to trust him and give him more chances, no doubt.”

Millwall took the lead through Tom Bradshaw, but second-half goals from Jannik Vestergaard, Daka and Ricardo Pereira, whose shot was deflected in off Wilfred Ndidi, settled the game.

Maresca added: “It was a tough game. We expected them in one way. But since the new manager arrived, they have played always in a line of four. Here, they came here with a line of five and two holding midfielders.

“In the first half, we were in control of the game, but without creating clear chances. At half-time, we adjusted some things.

“Instead of attacking with five, we attacked with six. We brought one more player in the last line. It was much better second half for sure.”

A stoppage-time goal from Millwall substitute Kevin Nisbet proved no more than a consolation.

“We came here with with clear plan, which is all well and good, but the players have to execute it,” said Millwall manager Joe Edwards.

“I thought they did it to a tee in the first half. We had our moments. At half-time, we were pleased with our work and knew we’d given ourselves a chance.

“We felt confident we could go and do it again. But we conceded a sloppy goal, and after that we weren’t quick enough to things. Not clinical.

“Then we started playing well again in the last 10 minutes. For two minutes at the end, it’s game on.

“You’re always hoping to win, but a draw would’ve been a great result. We felt that if we came to Leicester with a high press and went toe to toe with them, we wouldn’t get any rewards by losing 4-0.

“But we felt we wanted to show we could offer a threat. It was a frustrated place at half-time, you could feel that. That’s what we came to do. The question then is ‘how long can we sustain it?’”

Related items

  • Ten Hag deserves more time after FA Cup win, says Man Utd great Yorke Ten Hag deserves more time after FA Cup win, says Man Utd great Yorke

    Erik ten Hag should be given another season by the new regime at Manchester United after masterminding their FA Cup triumph, says former Red Devils striker Dwight Yorke.

    Ten Hag's future was subject to speculation throughout a largely dismal season for United, who recorded their lowest ever Premier League finish of eighth. 

    They also exited the Champions League in the group stage, losing 19 matches and conceding 85 goals across all competitions.

    However, they finished an underwhelming campaign on a high note on Saturday, with Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo scoring in a shock 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Manchester City.

    Yorke says Ten Hag deserves credit for the way he set United up at Wembley Stadium, as the Red Devils edged City for expected goals (1.59 xG to 1.35), shots on target (five to four) and big chances (two to one) despite only having 26.4 per cent of the possession.

    "I think everybody thought this United team was never going to get the result. And for us, who have been in football for such a long time, the unthinkable can happen occasionally," Yorke told Stats Perform.

    "I have to say, Ten Hag deserves a lot of credit. There's a lot of noise coming out from the United end about whether he was going to be the manager. 

    "After the end of this game, whether he won or lost, he had the players focused. I think this could arguably be United's best performance this season. I really do. 

    "There were a lot of negatives coming out of the camp, but I truly think they were far superior tactically. The way we set up and made life very difficult for them [City]. 

    "They were in City's face, not allowing them too much space to dominate the game. I thought they were superb. The manager deserves a lot of credit and the players deserve a lot of credit for showing up on a day when no one gave them a chance to win the game."

    The likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Thomas Tuchel and Kieran McKenna have all been linked with United as the Jim Ratcliffe regime weighs up whether to stick with Ten Hag for 2024-25.

    But Yorke feels the Dutchman has now done enough to remain at the helm, adding: "I've been a critic of Ten Hag, I have to say that. I've gone on record and said he needed to win this game to have any chance of continuing to be manager. 

    "To win two competitions in two years, then that's quite the turnaround. I think he deserves another year, I really do. 

    "Whether he's the man taking us forward in terms of his style, that's another question, but he certainly deserves another year in my opinion."

  • Courtois omitted from Belgium squad for Euro 2024 as Witsel returns Courtois omitted from Belgium squad for Euro 2024 as Witsel returns

    Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been omitted from Belgium's 25-man squad for Euro 2024.

    Courtois suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury shortly before the start of the season in August, only returning to action against Cadiz earlier this month.

    He is seen as the favourite to start between the sticks when Los Blancos face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final on Saturday, despite Andriy Lunin impressing as Carlo Ancelotti's side overcame Manchester City and Bayern Munch in the last two rounds.

    Courtois became embroiled in a public spat with Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco last June, walking out on the squad when he was not named captain in the wake of Eden Hazard's retirement.

    That incident meant he was always unlikely to feature at this year's tournament in Germany, and his absence has now been confirmed with Koen Casteels, Thomas Kaminski and Matz Sels the three shot-stoppers named in Tedesco's 25-man party.

    There is, however, a recall for Axel Witsel, who announced his international retirement last May but has now reversed that decision.

    Belgium begin their Group E campaign against Slovakia in Frankfurt on June 17, before taking on Romania five days later and Ukraine on June 26. 

    Full 25-man squad: Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thomas Kaminski (Luton Town), Matz Sels (Nottingham Forest), Timothy Castagne (Fulham), Maxim De Cuyper (Club Brugge), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Wout Faes (Leicester City), Thomas Meunier (Trabzonspor), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Arthur Theate (Stade Rennais), Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid), Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Orel Mangala (Lyon), Amadou Onana (Everton), Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa), Arthur Vermeeren (Atletico Madrid), Aster Vranckx (Wolfsburg), Johan Bakayoko (PSV), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (Roma), Dodi Lukebakio (Sevilla), Lois Openda (RB Leipzig), Leandro Trossard (Arsenal).

  • Bochum avoid Bundesliga relegation after play-off penalty drama downs Dusseldorf Bochum avoid Bundesliga relegation after play-off penalty drama downs Dusseldorf

    Bochum will be playing in the Bundesliga once again next campaign after staving off relegation with a penalty shoot-out victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the play-offs.

    Heiko Butscher's side finished 16th in the German top-flight table in the 2023-24 season, though got the better of their 2.Bundesliga opponents to secure another season in the competition.

    Needing to overturn a three-goal deficit from the first-leg play-off defeat, Philipp Hofmann stole the show with a goal in either half before Kevin Stoger's 70th-minute penalty sent the tie to extra time.

    The pair could not be separated across an additional 30 minutes at Dusseldorf Arena, ensuring spot-kicks were required to decide the fate of the two Bundesliga hopefuls.

    Andre Hoffmann missed Dusseldorf's first but Erhan Masovic also faltered, leaving a winner-takes-all scenario in a sudden-death shoot-out with the score at 4-4.

    Maximilian Wittek then converted before Takashi Uchino fired wide, sealing a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory for Bochum after a 3-0 win on Monday snatched a 3-3 aggregate draw.

    Dusseldorf finished third in Germany's second division this season and will be forced for, at least, another campaign in 2. Bundesliga after this play-off heartbreak.

    This was the first time a play-off has gone to penalties since the Bundesliga reintroduced the fixture, with Bochum ultimately prevailing to keep their top-flight status intact.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.