Leicester 2-1 Chelsea: Jamie Vardy And Riyad Mahrez Take Foxes Top
Leicester moved back to the top of the Premier League with a stunning 2-1 victory over champions Chelsea on Monday Night Football.
Goals either side of half-time from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were enough to secure the points, despite Loic Remy’s header and a late rally from Chelsea, to leave Jose Mourinho’s side one point above the relegation zone.
It was a cagey start, with both teams well aware of the game’s importance – Leicester knowing they could move ahead of Arsenal and Manchester City to return to the summit, while the reigning champions were desperate to make up ground on their rivals.
There was a worrying moment for Chelsea after 12 minutes, when Thibaut Courtois fumbled a simple cross to give the hosts a chance to open the scoring. He gathered at the second time of asking, but it was symptomatic of the Blues’ stuttering season so far.
Both sides were forced into early changes, with Danny Drinkwater and Eden Hazard picking up injures after fairly innocuous challenges.
The Leicester midfielder was replaced by Andy King midway through the first half after pulling his hamstring, and Hazard had to make way for Pedro after appearing to injure his hip just a few minutes later.
The match came to life shortly after the half-hour mark, when Leicester took the lead from another counter-attack. Unsurprisingly, it was Mahrez and Vardy linking up again, with the England striker grabbing his 15th league goal of the season.
Right winger Mahrez, so impressive this season, fired in a dangerous ball from the right, with Vardy well placed to get in between John Terry and Kurt Zouma. He knocked it past a helpless Courtois to give the Foxes the lead, as chants of “we are top of the league” rang around the King Power Stadium.
Almost immediately Chelsea broke away looking to level things up, with manager Mourinho looking less than impressed on the sidelines.
Willian whipped a corner in from the right for Nemanja Matic to rise above the defence, but his looping header could only clip off the top of the bar.
The onus was on Chelsea to push for a leveller, but it was Leicester who continued to look dangerous.
Just three minutes after the break, Mahrez grabbed his 11th of the campaign to double the home side’s lead. The ball came across to the Algerian winger at the back post, who found himself in acres of space.
Quickly he was closed down by Cesar Azpilicueta, but the in-form Leicester man turned the defender left and right, before curling the ball into the far corner.
The away side’s best chance came from the resulting corner, when the ball fell to Branislav Ivanovic, unmarked at the back post. Two yards out, and with an empty net to aim at, the ball bounced off the defender’s heel and was cleared.
Chelsea got the goal they were looking for, but it proved to be too little, too late for last season’s Premier League champions. An inch-perfect ball from Pedro from the left found substitute Remy, who powered a header into the back of the net.
Despite more late pressure, a spirited performance from Leicester earned them three more points, taking them to 35 for the season. 16 matches, and 10 wins from them, while Chelsea’s struggles continue at the other end of the table.