Saturday 1 October 2016

Jamie Vardy and Leicester get their title defence up and running

Leicester City 2 Swansea 1

Sean Taylor

Published 27/08/2016 | 17:29

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring his side's first goal
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring his side's first goal

Jamie Vardy's first goal of the season set Leicester on their way to the first victory of their Premier League title defence as Swansea were beaten 2-1 at the King Power Stadium.

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Vardy, the champions' leading scorer last season with 24 goals, got off the mark for the new campaign in typical fashion by emphatically finishing a lovely Leicester move.

Captain Wes Morgan doubled the lead early in the second half before Riyad Mahrez saw a penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski and Leroy Fer headed a goal back for Swansea late on.

The victory meant Leicester avoided becoming the first champions since Manchester United in 2007-08 to begin the defence of their title without winning any of their first three Premier League matches.

In the opening minute Shinji Okazaki poked out a leg to reach Robert Huth's flick-on from a Christian Fuchs long throw but was unable to get a telling contact to worry Fabianski.

Mahrez curled a free-kick over the crossbar after Federico Fernandez had brought down Vardy right on the edge of the penalty area with a mis-timed sliding tackle that earned the Argentinian defender a 10th-minute yellow card.

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri

Leicester enjoyed a period of sustained pressure midway through the first half which saw Danny Drinkwater glance a header across the face of goal and a Vardy pull-back from the byline scrambled clear.

Leicester were knocking on the door but Swansea reminded them they were a threat on the break and Gylfi Sigurdsson twice worked Kasper Schmeichel either side of the half-hour mark with shots from the edge of the box.

In the 32nd minute Leicester took the lead and it had more than an echo of last season about it.

Daniel Amartey was N'Golo Kante-esque in tracking back to tackle and win the ball. He played a one-two with Drinkwater just in front of his own penalty area before playing a ball up to Mahrez, who cushioned a header back to Drinkwater.

Then, as we saw many times last season, Drinkwater dropped a pass behind the Swansea defence for Vardy to chase. Vardy out-paced Jordi Amat and held him off before blasting a right-foot shot into the net via the inside of the near post.

Fabianski had to push away a fiercely-struck shot from Okazaki to prevent Leicester from going into half-time with a two-goal lead.

However, seven minutes after the restart it was 2-0. If the first goal was a thing of beauty, the second was sheer luck and about being in the right place at the right time.

Huth's header from a corner hit a Swansea defender and ricocheted into the path of Morgan, who simply hammered the ball home on the half-volley.

Leicester should have extended their lead after 56 minutes when Amat brought down Okazaki inside the box but Mahrez's penalty was brilliantly saved by Fabianski diving to his right.

An eventful start to the second half concluded with Schmeichel waving to the bench asking to be substituted after rushing from his area to make a clearance. Summer signing Ron-Robert Zieler replaced the injured Dane to make his debut for the club.

He was beaten with nine minutes remaining when Fer brilliantly powered his header from Modou Barrow's cross into the bottom corner of the net.

Mahrez and substitute Ahmed Musa had late chances to restore Leicester's two-goal lead but neither did.

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