Leicester have gone second in the Premier League table in record-breaking style, demolishing 10-man Southampton 9-0 on Friday Night Football.
Leicester were on the verge of history when they were awarded a last-minute penalty after Jamie Vardy was fouled by Yan Bednarek in the area. Vardy then converted from the spot for his hat-trick as the Foxes broke the record for the highest ever away win in the Premier League and matched the overall record.
Earlier, Ben Chilwell (10) opened the floodgates early on with Southampton seeing Ryan Bertrand dismissed for a studs-up challenge on Ayoze Perez in the build-up that was picked up by VAR. Youri Tielemans (17) netted the second before Perez (19, 39) scored twice to extend Leicester's already-impressive lead before Vardy (45) added a late first-half fifth.
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The attacking pair picked up where they left off in the second half, with Perez completing his hat-trick in the 57th minute and Vardy scoring his second goal a minute later, before a James Maddison (84) free kick made it an eye-watering eight.
The result sends Leicester above Manchester City into second in the table while Southampton drop into the bottom three on goal difference and are now level on -16 with bottom side Watford.
"It's another absolutely devastating result for both teams," reflected Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher.
"There's no doubt Leicester are the real deal. For the so-called big six, Leicester will be a massive worry."
How Leicester demolished sorry Saints
The rain lashed down ahead of kick-off at St Mary's, and little did Southampton know that the frightful weather was an omen for their performance. Leicester went ahead inside 10 minutes, with Angus Gunn initially saving Harvey Barnes' effort, but Chilwell was lurking to fire home the rebound.
Southampton's early problems were not done there, though. A VAR check took place after the goal to look at the build-up, where the officials in Stockley Park spotted a horrendous challenge from Bertrand as he dragged his studs down Perez's shins. It was a straight red card for the Southampton full-back after 12 minutes, with no complaints from the home fans when the challenge was shown on the big screen.
Southampton: Gunn (4), Valery (3), Yoshida (3), Vestergaard (3), Bednarek (3), Bertrand (n/a), Romeu (4), Hojbjerg (3), Ward-Prowse (4), Redmond (3), Ings (3).
Subs used: Danso (3), Stephens (3), Armstrong (4).
Leicester: Schmeichel (5), Pereira (6), Evans (6), Soyuncu (7), Chilwell (7), Tielemans (8), Ndidi (7), Barnes (8), Perez (9), Maddison (8), Vardy (9).
Subs used: Albrighton (6), Gray (6).
Man of the match: Ayoze Perez.
Leicester's next two goals came within two minutes of one another. Barnes got away down the left-hand side - skipping over challenges from Yan Valery and Oriel Romeu - before his cross was deflected into Tielemans' path by Valery inside the area. The Belgian then swept through the box into the bottom corner.
And inside 19 minutes, Leicester were 3-0 ahead as Southampton began to disintegrate. Perez played a neat give-and-go with Tielemans, who slipped him in at the top of the area, with the forward lashing an effort past Gunn for his first Premier League goal for Leicester.
Both teams named unchanged XIs from their Premier League games from last weekend.
Southampton had a few shots of their own as the half went on, but their defences were breached once again in the 39th minute. It was a wonderful, curling cross from Chilwell as he spotted the run of Perez towards the back post. Valery lost him completely and the Leicester forward smashed home from a tight angle for his second of the evening.
If there was going to be a scoring party, you could bet Vardy would be involved and he nabbed his first goal on the stroke of half-time. It was another poor bit of defending from Southampton as James Ward-Prowse nodded Chilwell's cross into Vardy's path, with the striker easily taking the ball around Maya Yoshida before hammering past an onrushing Gunn.
Just 12 minutes into the second half and Perez completed his hat-trick. Barnes was in the thick of the action again and he clipped a delightful ball over the top of the Southampton defence for his team-mate, who took a touch before slotting home for his third - and Leicester's sixth - of the evening.
Leicester's record-breaking evening
- Leicester recorded the joint-largest ever margin of victory in Premier League history, alongside Manchester United's 9-0 win over Ipswich at Old Trafford in March 1995.
- The Foxes recorded the biggest-ever victory by an away side in an English top-flight league match in the 131-year history of the Football League.
- Leicester have become only the second side in Premier League history to have two players score a hat-trick in the same game (Perez and Vardy), after Arsenal in May 2003 - also against Southampton (Pennant and Pires).
- Brendan Rodgers' side became only the second team in Premier League history to establish a five-goal lead in the first half of an away game in the competition, after Manchester City against Burnley in April 2010 (also 5-0).
A minute later, it was seven. It was all to easy for Leicester as Chilwell darted to the by-line before standing up a cross into the area. Vardy was free inside the six-yard box, getting between Yoshida and Bednarek, before heading home.
Southampton looked to have stemmed the tide, but there was more to come. Leicester were awarded a free kick in the 85th minute around 20 yards out. Only one man was going to step up as Maddison whipped the ball over the wall and into the top corner.
Leicester could sense the record in their reach and broke it when they were awarded a penalty in the final minute of two added on. On the slick surface, Bednarek slid in to stop the on-running Vardy with referee Andre Marriner pointing to the spot. With the hat-trick in his grasp, Vardy himself stepped up and dispatched coolly to give the Foxes a record-breaking win.
What the managers said...
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers: "We said at half-time, keep your speed in the game and we have to punish them. It is tough for Ralph but we have to do our job and score as many goals as we can. The game is 0-0 at half-time we said. This is part of our education we have to come out of the boy zone and play like a man and respect the game. They are very talented and learning to be ruthless.
"Kasper (Schmeichel) is really happy, The only other 'keeper to have a nine was his father. We believe in our work, believe we can push over the course of the season. Our mentality is how we work every day. The players want to get better and improve. A great, great win and now we have to go focus on the cup game."
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: "I take 100 per cent responsibility for this result today and it was no performance from my team this cannot happen in this way. The best thing in the stadium - besides the opposition - were the crowd who stayed in the stadium. How they act is more than we deserve, and I apologise for this no performance today.
"We were not committed enough and with how strong Leicester were, we just couldn't defend against it. If you ask me if I'm shocked tonight, with every goal we conceded, what do you think? For me, I've never had such an experience in my entire managing career. Not easy [to recover] but we have to stand up again and show a different face."
When asked how bad Southampton's performance was, Jamie Carragher responded: "Shocking. The manager will stand and fall by results but there is no way at 9-0 and the way they performed there that I'm going to point the finger at the manager. Some of those players there were a disgrace really.
People think about the extra man in football and what it does it means it's very difficult to go and win a game, but it doesn't mean you can't stop the opposition winning a game. I know it was 1-0 at the time but there's no way that should not just finish 3-0. Going down to 10 men happens a lot in the Premier League but you don't see 9-0.
"Even at the start of the second half, Vardy had another good chance and you are thinking where is the backbone in this team? It was an absolutely disgraceful performance that will reverberate around the Premier league, but also that's one of the worst in premier league history, not just for Southampton. that any of us have ever seen.
Meanwhile, Gary Neville was full of praise for record-breaking Leicester: "We can always focus on the defending, and there was some poor defending, but there was some real high quality from Leicester. They were clinical. It's so easy to see teams go 3-0 up against 10 men and ease off and go through the motions. They punished Southampton badly and they didn't stop. It was a team trying to prove something.
"We said before the game what could they do this season. The fans seemed to veer towards top six but the confidence they'll pick up from this win, it was a really good performance. It takes a lot to do that."
Carragher added: "There's no doubt Leicester are the real deal. For the so-called big six, Leicester will be a massive worry."
Man of the match - Ayoze Perez
In reality, there were two or three Leicester players who could have taken home the man of the match award, but Ayoze Perez's hat-trick just shaded it. They were three goals of real quality and he racked up some impressive numbers.
After nine Premier League games without a goal for Leicester, he popped up with three in one very special evening. He had seven shots, five of which were on target and three - as we know - were goals.
It is the second time this calendar year that he has scored a hat-trick and they have both come against Southampton.
Special mention must also go to Jamie Vardy. Three of his five shots overall were goals and he now tops the Premier League top scorers chart ahead of the weekend with nine goals for the season.
- This was Southampton's biggest ever defeat as an English league side in all competitions in their history.
- Leicester's Ayoze Perez has become the first player to score a hat-trick in back-to-back Premier League appearances against a single opponent since Luis Suarez against Norwich City in September 2012. His second goal tonight was his 50th in all competitions for English clubs.
- Leicester's Ben Chilwell scored just the second goal of his professional career in his 106th appearance in all competitions; his only previous strike came in a 6-1 defeat to Spurs in May 2017.
The games do not get any easier for Southampton as they play Manchester City at the Etihad twice in five days next week - firstly in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday before the Premier League encounter on Saturday.
For Leicester, they are away to Burton Albion on Tuesday's Carabao Cup clash before travelling to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 2pm).