Leicester weren’t ‘hungry enough’ in loss to Fulham
Leicester City forward James Maddison believes his side were “not hungry enough” after their Premier League survival hopes suffered a blow with a 5-3 defeat at Fulham.
Victories for fellow strugglers Everton and Nottingham Forest later on Monday saw the Foxes slip into the relegation zone, now two points from safety with three games remaining.
“[I’m] hurting, this was a big game for us and we were not at it,” Maddison told BBC Match of the Day.
“We didn’t start the game well enough. We need to do the basics well.”
Fulham opened the scoring through a Willian free-kick before strikes from Carlos Vinicius and Tom Cairney powered them into a 3-0 half-time lead.
Cairney added another after the restart before Harvey Barnes pulled a goal back for the visitors, who then saw Jamie Vardy miss a penalty in the 66th minute.
Willian re-established Fulham’s four-goal lead with another fine strike before Maddison netted Leicester’s second with a spot-kick and Barnes scored a late third.
“We were not hungry enough to want to win the game,” added Maddison.
“It is tough. No easy game in the Premier League, it is a cliche but so true. We will keep fighting, we will keep trying to put it right.”
Maddison later sought to clarify his post-match comments on social media, saying: “When I say not hungry enough I mean aggressive and on the front foot in duels, not us wanting to win or realising the importance.
“We were not good enough today and we’ve only got ourselves to blame and apologise for that. But, as someone who sees the work we are doing every single day to try and put this right, it’s not down to attitude or application.”
Woeful Leicester booed off at half-time
Leicester are desperate for points and, with matches against Liverpool and Newcastle still to come, Foxes fans would have circled Fulham away as a must-win fixture in their battle to avoid the drop.
But against a side who had lost three of their previous four matches at home, they were woeful in the opening 45 minutes.
“The first half was nowhere near good enough,” Leicester boss Dean Smith told BBC Match of the Day. “We gave away goals we shouldn’t give away at this level.
“I didn’t see that coming. We have been fairly resolute in the five games we’ve had with the exception of Everton.”
The Foxes fell behind in the 10th minute when keeper Daniel Iversen misjudged Willian’s wide free-kick and the ball bounced underneath him before nestling in the bottom corner.
Vinicius’ goal finished off a fine counter-attacking move before Cairney scored on just his third league start of the season with an impressive curling finish.
Trailing by three goals at the break, Leicester were booed off by the visiting fans and the mood only got bleaker when Cairney added Fulham’s fourth in the 51st minute.
However, Barnes gave his side a glimmer of hope, before Vardy was caught by Bernd Leno midway through the second half – but when the striker missed the resulting spot-kick, any thoughts of an unlikely comeback ended.
Fulham soon added a fifth against a porous defence, with Leicester having now failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their past 20 games, an unwanted Premier League record.
There were ironic jeers when Maddison found the bottom corner from the spot in the 81st minute after he had been caught by Joao Palhinha in the box.
Barnes’ 89th-minute strike made the scoreline look more respectable, but in truth the Foxes never looked like securing anything from the match.
Superb Fulham equal club record
Inspired by their impressive first-half showing, Fulham have equalled a club record of 14 wins in a single Premier League season.
“We clearly deserved the three points and it should have been much more comfortable,” Fulham boss Marco Silva told BBC Match of the Day.
“Great team performance. Great moments of football, great goals. The way we played from the first minute was really good.”
There was a party atmosphere at a sun-kissed Craven Cottage as Silva’s side bounced back from narrow defeats by Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool.
The Cottagers completed a top-flight double over Leicester for the first time since 2004, thanks mainly to the excellent attacking work of Willian and Cairney.
Fulham remain 10th, two points behind west London rivals Brentford.
They need five points from their final three games to equal their record top-flight points tally of 53, from the 2008-09 season.
Fulham face Southampton away in their next match on Saturday before taking on Crystal Palace and Manchester United, while Leicester host Liverpool next Monday.