James Maddison strikes to give Leicester victory at Brentford

The message was loud, clear and broadcast from the away end for some time after the final whistle. “Sign him up,” it demanded, and there was no mistaking the subject. Youri Tielemans is Leicester’s best player and nobody of their persuasion will sleep especially soundly until talks over a new contract are concluded successfully. He was the difference between a smash-and-grab away win and what would have been a deserved defeat in west London, scoring a tremendous opener and prising open Brentford’s defence in the buildup to James Maddison’s second-half winner. The home side were vivacious as ever but, for the second weekend running, were left to regret a combination of missed chances and inspired goalkeeping.

Ultimately, Brentford could not find anyone to rival Tielemans’ incisiveness. In Leicester’s win over Manchester United, the Belgian had caused jaws to drop with a gorgeous chip that drifted beyond David de Gea in slow motion. To break the deadlock here, he dispensed with the subtlety and produced an equally exhilarating finish. When a backpedalling Rico Henry half-cleared Maddison’s free-kick, Tielemans was lurking some 20 yards outside the Brentford box and took a longjumper’s run-up towards the bobbling ball. The subsequent connection was sublime and David Raya could do nothing about a long-range blast that roared to the left of his futile dive.

“I know Tielemans is good but he’s not doing that 100 out of 100 times, or even 10 out of 100 times,” said a rueful Thomas Frank. That bolt from the blue came after 13 minutes and it would be no exaggeration to suggest Brentford should have been three goals up by then. They began the game as if the final whistle had never blown on the defeat to Chelsea, unleashing a storm comparable to the one somehow weathered by Thomas Tuchel’s side.

Inside the first three minutes, Kasper Schmeichel saved prodigiously from Christian Nørgaard’s acrobatic effort and put off Pontus Jansson sufficiently to ensure he nodded over from close in.

There was still time for Ivan Toney to see a goal chalked off due to a marginal offside, before playing Bryan Mbeumo in with a smart first-time pass only for his strike partner to shoot wide. Brentford’s toolkit is marvellously varied: they can produce moves of dazzling intricacy but have no compunction with taking the quickest route to goal if required.

Leicester were forced to defend a barrage of crosses and set pieces throughout the game, Jonny Evans holding firm but seeing one of his sidekicks, Caglar Soyuncu, struggle to the extent that he was substituted in the second half.

“We absolutely hammered Leicester in the first half,” said Frank, entirely fairly. Chances did not flow quite as freely after Tielemans’ intervention but the pressure never really let up, Schmeichel making another fine save from Toney’s thudded header. Proceedings were more open after the restart, Maddison and Boubakary Soumaré warming Raya’s palms, but it was little surprise when Mathias Jensen whipped over a vicious, inswinging corner that Mathias Jørgensen flicked across Schmeichel and in.

That felt like the cue for Brentford to push on. They should have gone ahead with 20 minutes left when Jansson, running on to another near-undefendable delivery from Jensen, glanced a golden opportunity wide.

His reaction spoke volumes and, almost immediately, he was doubly frustrated. Schmeichel launched a quick, long kick forward with Brentford caught upfield and their back line off kilter. Eventually Tielemans slipped the substitute Patson Daka through and the Zambian, confronted by Raya, unselfishly passed to his left for Maddison to slot in.

“I’m delighted with him,” said Brendan Rodgers of Maddison, whose form has been a concern. “He’s returning to the level. He looked bright but, most importantly, he’s been competitive when he hasn’t got the ball.”

Rodgers was less happy that Jamie Vardy, who had felt his right knee in the warm-up, could not carry on beyond the interval and had to be replaced by Daka. The afflicted joint was covered in strapping by full time. Daka was impressive, though, and his bright running helped relieve pressure during a late spell in which, for all Brentford’s endeavour, they never seriously threatened.

It meant Leicester leapfrog Brentford in the table and Tielemans could soak up the adulation. “The club will do everything they possibly can to keep Youri,” Rodgers said. “My focus is to make sure he’s the best player he can be and concentrate on his development. It was a sensational strike: he creates goals, he scores goals and he’s a real brain for us in midfield.”

It does not take a genius to discern that Leicester need to keep him.