Watford 0-1 Leicester: Riyad Mahrez sends Foxes five clear
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 06/03/16 2:12pm
Leicester City underscored their title credentials as Riyad Mahrez's stunning strike earned a 1-0 victory at Watford.
Saturday's north London derby draw opened the door for Claudio Ranieri's side to take a potentially crucial step towards the title, and they took full advantage as Mahrez's 56th-minute strike saw off Watford.
The victory marks a remarkable turnaround for Leicester who, at the same stage last season, were seven points from safety rooted firmly to the bottom of the league.
Fast forward 12 months and victory at Vicarage Road moves the Foxes five points clear at the summit and clear favourites for the title.
For Watford, defeat - their 12th of the Premier League season - leaves them 12th in the table.
N'Golo Kante was recalled into the Leicester team having shaken off the hamstring strain that ruled him out of their midweek draw against West Brom.
Quique Sanchez Flores made three changes following Watford's defeat at Old Trafford, with Mario Suarez, Nordin Amrabat and Nathan Ake starting.
Having initially been named on the bench, Jose Holebas replaced Miguel Britos after the centre-back picked up an injury in the warm-up, and the last-minute alteration appeared to unsettle the hosts as Leicester threatened early on.
It took Vardy just three minutes to get in behind the Watford defence but, having rounded Heurelho Gomes, Nathan Ake blocked his shot.
Gomes was called into action a minute later to deny Christian Fuchs' low drive after the left-back had capitalised on some slack defending.
Ake then saw a header clip the top of the bar on 11 minutes as Watford appeared to have weathered the early Leicester storm.
Vardy had other ideas though, sending a lob over Gomes narrowly wide shortly after before failing to convert Mahrez's low centre on 23 minutes as the best chance of the game went a begging.
The Foxes were almost made to pay for their profligacy when the ball dropped for Hornets captain Troy Deeney on 27 minutes, but his effort nestled in the arms of Kasper Schmeichel.
The first half petered out, as too did the opening exchanges of the second, until Mahrez finally broke Watford's resolve.
The Algerian, who had been anonymous until that point, sparked himself and the game into life, thrashing the ball high past Gomes at his near post for his 15th goal in a stellar season.
Brimming with confidence, Leicester went close to doubling their lead as Huth twice saw headers miss the target. There was a slight blot on their copy book, though, as Mahrez went down injured clutching his leg, with Ranieri replacing him shortly after.
Odion Ighalo fluffed a late chance, heading straight at Schmeichel after Deeney's flick, as Watford failed to score for the seventh time in their last nine Premier League games.
And Leicester were left to see out the victory that leaves them clear favourites for the title.
Watford: Gomes (6), Nyom (5), Prodl (6), Ake (7), Holebas (6), Amrabat (7), Mario Suarez (6), Watson (5), Capoue (6), Deeney (6), Ighalo (6).
Used subs: Oulare (5), Anya (5), Abdi (6).
Leicester: Schmeichel (7), Simpson (6), Morgan (6), Huth (7), Fuchs (7), Mahrez (8), Drinkwater (8), Kante (7), Albrighton (6), Vardy (8), Okazaki (6).
Used subs: King (5), Amartey (5), Schlupp (6).
Man of the Match: Riyad Mahrez