Rodgers era at Leicester gets off to winning start
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 27, 2019 08:31 AM
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 file photo, Celtic's coach Brendan Rodgers smiles on the bench during the Europa League group B soccer match between RB Leipzig and Celtic FC in Leipzig, Germany. Scottish champion Celtic has given Brendan Rodgers permission to talk to Leicester about the English Premier League club's managerial vacancy after Celtic were approached about Rodgers on Tuesday Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)
By Steve Douglas, Associated Press
Barely an hour after being hired as Leicester's manager, Brendan Rodgers took a seat in the stands at King Power Stadium to have a first good look at his new team.
He must have been fairly satisfied with what he saw.
Leicester ended a winless run stretching back to Jan. 1 by beating Brighton 2-1 in the Premier League on Tuesday, its players perhaps motivated by impressing their new coach following his arrival from Scottish club Celtic.
With Leicester moving 11 points clear of the bottom three, it is unlikely that Rodgers will be fighting a relegation battle in the final three months of the season.
Instead, when his tenure starts for good on Wednesday, his task will be to get a talented group of players back of track after losing their way under predecessor Claude Puel in recent months. Maybe even getting the team challenging the heavyweights of the league again — like they did in famously winning the title at preseason odds of 5,000-1 in 2015-16.
"He's got a presentation for them to show them what he expects on and off the pitch so I look forward to seeing that as well," Mike Stowell, who took charge of Leicester for the game, said of Rodgers. "It's been a difficult season on and off the pitch, but I think we should be seventh with the quality we have."
The prolific output of Jamie Vardy was integral that season and the striker showed Rodgers he still has an eye for goal by scoring what proved to be the winner, taking a pass from James Maddison in his stride and shooting low into the net in the 63rd minute.
That made it 2-0 after Demarai Gray's 10th-minute strike, and Brighton's only reply was through Davy Propper in the 66th — even though the visitors had plenty of chances in an open game.
The result meant Leicester avoided a fifth straight home league loss, which last happened in 1959.
Leicester winger Harvey Barnes, one of the team's brightest young players, said Rodgers was "pleased with the result and performance."
"He'll spend the next couple of days introducing us to his style of play and how he wants us to perform," Barnes said. "Our squad is very young, so with the manager we have now that's only going to develop and progress."
Cardiff is starting to wobble just at the wrong time.
Four days after losing 5-1 at home to Watford, the Welsh team was swept aside in a 3-0 loss to visiting Everton and didn't even have a shot on target.
Cardiff stayed only one point above the relegation zone — and could be in it by the time the 28th round is over on Wednesday night.
"We will not go down without a fight," said Neil Warnock, Cardiff's veteran coach. "We have a lot of character and we won't give in."
Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice and Dominic Calvert-Lewin added the third for Everton.
Newcastle pushed seven points clear of the relegation zone by beating Burnley 2-0 for its fourth straight home win.
Making it all the sweeter for Newcastle's long-suffering fans was the sight of young midfielder Sean Longstaff scoring his first goal for the club — adding to Fabian Schar's long-range opener — and record signing Miguel Almiron delivering another strong display as a playmaker.
"It is amazing to be playing every week — it was my dream as a young boy," said the 21-year-old Longstaff, who only recently got in the team to answer an injury crisis. "I got lost in the goal."
Last-place Huddersfield collected only its third victory of the season by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 thanks to an injury-time goal from Steve Mounie.
It could be too late for Huddersfield, though, with the team still 11 points adrift of safety.