Red-hot Vardy fires title-chasing Leicester to club record win

LONDON (AFP) – Leicester closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool as Jamie Vardy extended his red-hot streak with a brace in late Sunday night’s record-breaking 4-1 rout of Aston Villa.

Brendan Rodgers’ second-placed side moved within eight points of Liverpool thanks to goals from Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans at Villa Park.

Jack Grealish had reduced the deficit to 2-1 late in the first half, but Leicester cruised to an eighth consecutive top-flight victory, setting a new club record that smashed the previous best from the 1962-63 season.

Vardy has now scored in eight consecutive Premier League appearances and is the competition’s top scorer with 16 goals this term.

The 32-year-old striker’s blistering run has given him a chance of equalling his sequence of scoring in 11 successive matches during Leicester’s 2015-16 title-winning campaign.

“I thought they were amazing, it is a historical day for the club and the performance warranted that,” Rodgers said.

“It really does mean something special, it puts the team in the history books of Leicester City.”

Leicester’s surge up the table, after 12 wins from their last 14 league games, has made them unexpected title contenders again and leaves them in position to qualify for the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp’s men remain heavy title favourites and the acid test of Leicester’s credentials will come with successive fixtures against Manchester City and Liverpool over Christmas.

“I don’t think anyone expects us to be near the top. After Manchester United won at Manchester City, the caption came up about how far City are away from Liverpool,” Rodgers said.

“We respect that, we get on with our work and keep developing as a team. We look like a top team.”

Vardy maintained his superb form to put Leicester ahead in the 21st minute.

Latching onto a fine pass from Iheanacho and, with the injured Tyrone Mings unable to sprint back, Vardy had space to round Tom Heaton before stumbling over the ball.

Quickly recovering his footing, the striker glided past Ezri Konsa to slot home from inside the six-yard box.

After bagging the winner against Everton last Sunday, Nigerian forward Iheanacho struck again in the 41st minute.

James Maddison surged into the Villa area and delivered a fine cross that Iheanacho turned in from close range.

Grealish gave Dean Smith’s side a lifeline in first half stoppage-time.

But Evans restored Leicester’s two-goal advantage in the 49th minute when the defender met Maddison’s corner with a towering header for his first goal since February.

Vardy put the result beyond doubt in the 75th minute with another clinical finish.