Gray shines as Leicester defeats Everton on Puel debut
LEICESTER, England (AP) — Leicester won its first game under new manager Claude Puel as it defeated struggling Everton 2-0 on Sunday in the English Premier League.
The recalled Demarai Gray starred as he helped create the opener for Jamie Vardy before adding a fortuitous second himself.
Former Everton player David Unsworth is in caretaker charge of the Toffees following Ronald Koeman’s dismissal, but his side’s display will have done little for his hopes of getting the job on a permanent basis.
Unhappy at making just nine Premier League starts last season, Gray almost left Leicester during the summer. The Foxes will be relieved they turned down significant transfer offers to keep hold of the 21-year-old.
Despite that show of faith, Gray had started just one league game this season under Craig Shakespeare, who was fired by Leicester earlier in October.
Puel, who was dismissed by Southampton at the end of last season, adjusted Leicester’s shape, moving Riyad Mahrez into a more central position to make space for Gray on the wing.
It took the England under-21 international just nine minutes to reward his new manager.
Gray picked up the ball on the edge of his own box, used his pace to evade Tom Davies before skipping past the challenge of Idrissa Gueye and releasing Mahrez with a perfectly weighted pass down the right side.
Mahrez matched Gray’s precision as he crossed into the path of Jamie Vardy, who was never going to miss from close range.
Gray showed what he could do from the other side of the pitch 20 minutes later, cutting in off the left flank to unleash a goal-bound cross, which was deflected in via a clumsy attempted at a clearance from Jonjoe Kenny.
Everton fought hard to get back into the game after the break, but Leicester captain Wes Morgan produced some timely interceptions to preserve his side’s lead.
A fourth game without a win, three of which have been losses, saw Everton stay in the relegation zone with eight points from its opening 10 games.
Leicester is up to 11th and is now unbeaten in four Premier League games.