Leicester 2-0 Liverpool: Jamie Vardy scores twice as Foxes stay top
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 03/02/16 8:13am
Jamie Vardy scored twice to keep Leicester at the top of the Premier League following a 2-0 victory over Liverpool at the King Power Stadium.
Vardy, who is close to agreeing a new three-and-a-half year contract which could see him double his existing wages, showed what he is worth to Leicester on the hour mark, firing a stunning goal-of-the-season contender over Simon Mignolet from 25 yards.
In front of England manager Roy Hodgson, Vardy doubled his side's advantage 12 minutes later with an excellent finish from close range to score his 18th Premier League goal of the season.
Victory maintained Leicester's three-point gap at the top of the table as they prepare to face Manchester City and Arsenal in their next two league games.
For Liverpool, defeat means Jurgen Klopp's men are 11 points adrift of the top four and six points behind Manchester United in fifth.
Claudio Ranieri stuck with the same line-up that swept aside Stoke 3-0 last time out and his side started on the front foot again with Riyad Mahrez curling an effort from 20 yards just wide in the second minute.
In the ninth minute, Vardy, who caused Liverpool's defence problems all night, burst clear down the left before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Shinji Okazaki, whose header was turned over by Mignolet.
At the other end it was Kasper Schmeichel's turn to get in on the action as he palmed Emre Can's volley over the bar, however the German was correctly flagged offside.
Mahrez looked Leicester's biggest goal threat in the first half and in the 14th minute he plucked a high ball out of the sky, before volleying the ball straight at Mignolet.
It was Mahrez against Mignolet again in the 35th minute but this time the Belgium international needed to be at the top of his game to keep the Algerian's first-time effort out, diving full stretch to tip the ball over the bar.
Liverpool, who were angered by Robert Huth's stray elbow catching Adam Lallana, came close when Alberto Moreno shot over five minutes before the break - although a cross into the box seemed the better option.
Liverpool had another excellent chance at the start of the second half with James Milner combining with Jordan Henderson, before Can fired a powerful shot just wide.
The home side always looked a threat on the break with Vardy the Liverpool defence's chief tormentor, however, it was Schmeichel who was called into action as he clawed away Moreno's cross from his near post.
Vardy soon proved the difference and he showed his full value to Leicester on the hour as he left Dejan Lovren trailing, before smashing a bouncing ball first-time over the head of Mignolet and into the top corner from the right corner of the penalty area.
There were smiles all over Hodgson's face when the cameras inside the ground panned to him but they were about to get even bigger as Vardy latched onto Okazaki's deflected shot to steer the ball past Mignolet to double his side's advantage.
Klopp threw on Christian Benteke as Liverpool searched for a way back into the game but it was not their night as they fell 11 points adrift of the top four.
However, for Leicester, and for Vardy, it was a night to remember as Ranieri's men proved their Premier League title credentials.
Leicester: Schmeichel (7), Simpson (7), Morgan (7), Huth (8), Fuchs (7), Mahrez (8), Kante (7), Drinkwater (8), Albrighton (7), Okazaki (8), Vardy (9).
Subs used: King (6), Gray (6), Ulloa (6).
Liverpool: Mignolet (7), Clyne (6), Lovren (6), Sakho (7), Moreno (6), Henderson (6), Lucas (6), Can (6), Milner (6), Firmino (6), Lallana (6).
Subs used: Benteke (5), Allen (5), Teixeira (5).
Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy