Leicester win Premier League: Five games that won the title
By Paul Green
Last Updated: 03/05/16 4:07pm
Leicester City have defied all the odds to secure a first ever Premier League crown following a memorable campaign. We look back at five key games which were instrumental in Leicester's journey on the way to becoming champions of England.
The Foxes only just stayed up 12 months ago thanks to an unlikely escape act under former boss Nigel Pearson.
But few would have expected his summer replacement Claudio Ranieri to mastermind what is one of the greatest sporting success stories in living memory.
We look back at five key games which were instrumental in Leicester's amazing journey on the way to becoming champions of England.
September 13: Leicester 3-2 Aston Villa
Leicester came back from the first international break still unbeaten and among the surprise challengers at the top of the table. Would they be able to maintain that early season form in a Midlands derby encounter with Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium?
It didn't look promising when Jack Grealish struck from the edge of the box to hand the visitors a narrow advantage shortly before the break, and things went from bad to worse on 63 minutes as Carles Gil doubled the advantage to seemingly put Villa in command.
Riyad Mahrez had other ideas, however, and provided the spark with two assists in a stunning comeback.
The Algerian's corner was converted by Ritchie de Laet as the deficit was halved with 18 minutes remaining, before Jamie Vardy fired the Foxes back on level terms 10 minutes later.
Mahrez turned provider again in the 89th minute by delivering the ball into the box which Nathan Dyer headed home to complete a remarkable comeback. The result was to be defining for both clubs as Leicester climbed up to second, while Villa went into free-fall.
"I've never felt this bad. Ever," said a clearly stunned Sherwood afterwards, who was sacked the following month.
For opposite number Ranieri, who had been among the pre-season favourites to become the first managerial casualty, the contrast in fortunes could not have been starker. But even he could never have imagined at this early stage exactly how Leicester's incredible campaign would pan out.
September 26: Leicester 2-5 Arsenal
Ranieri and his high-flying side were brought back down to earth in their next home game when Arsenal inflicted a first defeat of the season in some style. There was no indication of what was to unfold when Vardy's smart finish gave Leicester a 13th-minute lead.
That was cancelled out five minutes later by Theo Walcott before Alexis Sanchez took centre stage with a hat-trick. Vardy pulled one back late on but there was still time for Oliver Giroud to add a fifth for the Gunners, leaving Ranieri with a big decision to make about his leaky defence.
The Italian claimed the challenge now was for his side to go on another unbeaten run, but having already conceded 14 goals in the opening seven games, it was clear what the problem was.
Ranieri changed his full-backs for the following Premier League game, a hard-earned 2-1 success at Norwich City.
In came Danny Simpson on the right and Christian Fuchs at left-back, a decision which reaped noticeable benefits as Leicester's defence showed a noticeable improvement. A first clean sheet was finally produced in a 1-0 triumph over Crystal Palace on October 24, with both Simpson and Fuchs now regular starters in Leicester's XI.
They have remained so throughout the season, with the Foxes' rearguard gradually becoming a much more difficult nut to crack since the day Sanchez and co ran riot.
January 13: Tottenham 0-1 Leicester
Despite all the predictions from experts about an inevitable slide down the table, Leicester were still firmly among the contenders after the busy festive period.
Of course, they were not the only unexpected challengers, with Tottenham also right up there as surprise title hopefuls going into this game.
The pair had shared four goals at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup just three days earlier, but Leicester had failed to score in their previous three Premier League games.
Vardy sat out the cup tie with a thigh injury, although he handed Leicester a huge boost by returning for this game. It looked like his side were heading for another blank as the clock ticked down in north London.
The eventual winner came from an unlikely source as defender Robert Huth met Fuchs' 83rd-minute corner to send a header beyond the reach of Hugo Lloris for his first goal of the season.
That decisive effort ensured Leicester returned to winning ways for the first time since December 19. Victory put Ranieri's side level on points with leaders Arsenal, only goal difference now separating the top two.
More importantly, it established a seven-point advantage over Spurs, their eventual main rivals in the race for the Premier League crown.
February 6: Manchester City 1-3 Leicester City
Huth might well have been considered the unlikeliest of match-winners following the Spurs success, but it took the big German just three minutes to break the deadlock as Leicester made the perfect start on their way to a memorable 3-1 victory at the Etihad.
This was no fluke result, as Leicester dominated their supposed more illustrious hosts from the first whistle.
Mahrez made it 2-0 early in the second half, ending a barren run in front of goal which gave the eventual PFA Player of the Year his first goal in eight matches.
Huth's prolific spell continued with a headed effort on the hour to put the outcome beyond all doubt, while Sergio Aguero's 87th-minute goal was scant consolation for lacklustre City.
All of the pre-match talk had been about this game being the one when Leicester would finally begin to wobble in their unlikely pursuit of the title.
But once again Ranieri's side had failed to read the script, instead outplaying big-spending City on their own turf with a style and confidence which saw the Foxes emerge as deserved winners. After this result even the deepest sceptic was forced to accept they could go and win it.
April 17: Leicester City 2-2 West Ham
This was the day Leicester really showed their inner strength by rescuing a last-gasp share of the spoils from a hugely controversial game at the King Power.
Having won their last five, on paper it might look as if this was a case of two points dropped. However, that doesn't factor in the determination shown to overcome the 56th-minute dismissal of Vardy for diving, or for winning a 95th-minute penalty which Leonardo Ulloa held his nerve to convert.
There was little sign of the drama to come when Vardy notched his 22nd goal of the campaign on 18 minutes.
But the England striker, already on a yellow card, was sent off by referee Jon Moss after going to ground under a challenge from Angelo Ogbonna. Vardy's pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears, leaving Leicester a man short with more than a third of the game still to play.
West Ham were back on terms in the 84th-minute thanks to a hotly disputed penalty awarded by Moss for a foul by Wes Morgan on Winston Reid, Andy Carroll converting the spot-kick.
A sensational Aaron Cresswell strike two minutes later left 10-man Leicester staring defeat in the face. But there was more drama to come, as Huth's claim to have been fouled in the box by Ogbonna cut no ice with Moss, much to the fury of the home supporters.
He was finally persuaded to point to the spot deep into stoppage time when Carroll cut across Jeffrey Schlupp, much to the West Ham attacker's obvious annoyance.
Up stepped Ulloa with virtually the last kick of the match to seal an unlikely point and deliver a massive psychological boost to his side's increasingly strong title prospects.