Vardy brace continues scoring streak as Leicester make it eight in a row
Premier League, Villa Park - Aston Villa 1 (Grealish 45) Leicester 4 (Vardy 21 75, Iheanacho 41, Evans 49)
Jamie Vardy netted a brace in a 4-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday to extend Leicester's winning run to eight league matches.
Villa went into Sunday’s match against a rampant Leicester hanging by just thread above the drop zone, while the visitors were chasing a record-breaking eighth consecutive league win.
Despite a lively start, Tyrone Mings looked to be in some trouble early on as he battled against what looked like a strain. Unable to keep up with the attack that followed, a defensive howler saw Vardy score his first goal of the match, and Mings substituted shortly thereafter.
Kelechi Iheanacho, rewarded for recent good form with a start today, will have made Brendan Rodgers happy about his choices after assisting Vardy’s first goal, then tapping James Maddison’s ball in the back of the net to take a 2-0 lead.
Villa kept the pressure on and were eventually awarded for their efforts after captain Jack Grealish, who generally looked impressive, struck from the edge of the area to give his side a foothold back in the game on the stroke of halftime.
Early on in the second half Jonny Evans headed in a corner to widen Leicester’s advantage again, which seemed to give the home side the jitters.
Jonny Evans of Leicester City celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leicester City at Villa Park on December 08, 2019 in Birmingham, United KingdoGetty Images
Villa’s frustrations began to show and a flurry of yellow cards followed as Maddison was denied a couple of opportunities.
Though Anwar El Ghazi maintained pressure on the visitors until the end, the finish was poor and despite winning a number of set pieces, they were unable to make anything from them, not helped by other injuries that came over the course of the match.
Finally it was Vardy again who sealed Villa’s fate as he drilled a low ball past the keeper after a swift counter-attack.
A loss by Southampton at the same time keeps Villa just above the relegation zone, while Leicester give the,selves a six point lead ahead of third place Manchester City. They next face Norwich while Villa will play Sheffield United.
Is the title race on? Leicester City are a side playing with real intent under Brendan Rodgers. Though Liverpool maintain an eight point lead, as the Foxes stretch ahead of the pack who had been biting at their heels, surely Leicester seem the main threat to their title challenge. Perhaps it will be the Boxing Day Clash between the top two teams that decides the fate of this season?
Leicester City's Northern Irish defender Jonny Evans (centre right) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Leicester at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England onGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jamie Vardy. Iheanacho deserves a mention as the two strikers linked up well today, establishing a clear partnership. Ricardo Pereira also put in a graft worthy of praise. However, it has to be Jamie Vardy, scoring in his eighth consecutive league match - and the team’s eighth consecutive league win - to take the accolade, looking as dependable in front of the goal as Foxes fans have come to expect.
Aston Villa: Heaton 6, El Mohamady 6, Konsa 6, Mings 5, Targett 6, Nakamba 5, El Ghazi 7, Douglas Luiz 6, McGinn 6, Grealish 7, Wesley 5. Subs: Trezeguet 6, Engels 6, Guilbert 5.
Leicester: Schmeichel 7, Ricardo Pereira 8, Evans 7, Soyuncu 7, Chilwell 7, Ndidi 7, Praet 7, Tielemans 7, Maddison 7, Iheanacho 8, Vardy 8. Subs: Justin 7, Albrighton 7, Barnes 7.
21’ GOAL! Villa 0-1 Leicester (Vardy). An absolute howler by the Villa defense puts Jamie Vardy in front of an open goal thanks to an assist by Iheanacho.
41’ GOAL! Villa 0-2 Leicester (Iheanacho). Maddison drills the ball across to Iheanacho who taps it in the back of the net to give Leicester a 2-0 lead.
45+2’ GOAL! Villa 1-2 Leicester (Grealish). It's not pretty after Villa take a corner as any number of Villa players scrabble to get a touch. It's Jack Grealish who strikes from the edge of the area and finds the far bottom corner.
49’ GOAL! Villa 1-3 Leicester (Evans). Jonny Evans heads the ball in the back of the net from a corner into the box. 3-1 to the visitors.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates their 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leicester City at Villa Park on December 8, 2019 in Birmingham, United KingdomGetty Images
76’ GOAL! Villa 1-4 Leicester (Vardy). Jamie Vardy is the one to do it. A swift counter-attack there after El Mohamady's corner meets no one at the other end of the pitch. It's one-on-one as he out-runs his opponents and slots the ball past the keeper. Lovely stuff.