A promising performance ended in disappointment for NUFC in this one, with us losing out to Leicester City on penalties.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI: (5-4-1) Darlow (7) – Krafth (6) Schar (7.5), Fernandez (8), Clark (7), Willems (7.5) – M.Longstaff (6.5), Hayden (6), Shelvey (6), Ritchie (6) – Muto (7) SUBS: Atsu (7), Manquillo (6), Dummett (N/A).
Darlow – 7 – Didn’t have many saves to make, but came off his line to claim several dangerous crosses and saved one penalty in the shoot out.
Krafth – 6 – A fairly solid performance from the Swede. He doesn’t look like a naturally attacking full-back and sometimes struggled to burst into the space ahead of him, but he looked after the ball well and wasn’t easily beaten when ran at by a dangerous Harvey Barnes.
Schar – 7.5 – A composed display from the Swiss international, who read the play well and also played a huge part in our equaliser, with his stunning cross field pass putting Willems in behind just moments before Muto’s goal. A tough competitor and a class act on the ball.
Fernandez – 8 – Rock solid. The Argentinian barely gave Jamie Vardy a kick all night and dealt with just about everything that was thrown his way in and around the box. A leader and experienced campaigner who looked very assured at the heart of our defence.
Clark – 7 – Another ‘fringe player’ who came in and did a solid job on the night. Won his battle against Ayoze Perez – who often drifted infield – and had the odd positive burst forward from the back.
Willems – 7.5 – Impressive. Made one sloppy pass in the second half that Leicester may have punished us for on another day, but he made some great runs forward, bagged an assist for Muto’s goal, got stuck in and put one or two dangerous deliveries into the box.
M. Longstaff – 6.5 – Often drifted into wide areas, with him not playing quite as centrally as many would’ve expected, but covered a lot of ground, kept the ball moving and didn’t look daunted during his competitive debut at St James’ Park. Struggled in the second half with a few lapses and sloppy passes, but all in all a promising performance in the circumstances.
Hayden – 6 – Worked his socks off in the middle and made several crunching tackles and put himself about to keep some of Leicester’s key creators quiet. Would have given him a 7 if it wasn’t for his poor penalty in the shoot out.
Shelvey – 6 – Another who would’ve had a 7 if it wasn’t for his missed penalty. Worked hard, sprayed some lovely passes into the wide areas and put in a decent shift defensively too, also testing Schmeichel with a superbly struck 35-yard drive.
Ritchie – 6 – Had the chance to play in a more advanced role down the left-hand side, but his night was cut short after a late challenge from Hamza Choudhury forced him off early – and left him with suspected ankle ligament damage. Industrious as ever before his early exit.
Muto – 7 – Had a thankless task at times, with Steve Bruce unable to field many attackers to support him up top, but chased every ball and battled the two Leicester centre-backs all night. Drew several free kicks, showed good movement and grabbed a hard earned goal in the second half. Also took his penalty well in the shoot out.
Atsu – 7 – Another promising display just a few days on from his standout performance at Spurs on Sunday. Looked more confident on the ball and gave us an outlet in attack, using his pace well to commit Leicester defenders and draw fouls. Nothing spectacular but looked sharp.
Manquillo – 6 – Gave us a slightly more attacking outlet than Krafth down the right late on but a few too many of his balls into the box often found players in blue. Got back well to hold up a few Leicester counter attacks, however.
Dummett – N/A – Played the final 15 minutes at left wing-back. Tried to get a few late crosses into the box but didn’t carry the same attacking threat as Willems.