Saturday 22 July 2017

Leicester move into Premier League top half with rout of Watford

Leicester 3 Watford 0

Nick Mashiter

Leicester cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Watford to seal Premier League safety.

The Foxes secured a fifth-straight home win in the top flight to climb into the division's top 10 after goals from Wilfred Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton.

It was also boss Craig Shakespeare's eighth win in 13 games in charge and only Tottenham (24) have earned more points than Leicester's 22 since Shakespeare took over in February.

The outgoing champions, who also hit the woodwork twice, moved up to ninth as Watford dropped to 15th following a fifth successive away defeat without scoring.

The Hornets' end-of-season form will be a concern as they slipped to a seventh defeat in their last 11 outings.

Walter Mazzarri's side have not scored an away goal since January and rarely looked like breaking that run at the King Power Stadium even if Kasper Schmeichel gifted them an early chance.

His poor throw dropped for Nordin Amrabat and he worked the ball to M'Baye Niang to tee up Tom Cleverley, only for the midfielder to shoot disappointingly wide from 20 yards.

In a drab opening it was a decent chance but Leicester almost took the lead after 18 minutes when Adrian Mariappa came to Watford's rescue.

Mahrez's quick free-kick allowed Jamie Vardy to escape on the right and his low cross was destined for Shinji Okazaki before Mariappa stuck out a leg and deflected the ball against his own post.

It was more luck than judgement from the defender but he prevented a certain goal and Christian Kabasele was the next Hornet to avoid an own goal when Heurelho Gomes turned his header wide.

Despite the chances, the hosts made a sloppy start and Robert Huth's miscued touch presented Stefano Okaka with a chance after 30 minutes. The German defender failed to control a high ball and inadvertently set up the Watford striker, whose snap-shot was blocked by Schmeichel.

The goalkeeper was in action soon after when he parried Cleverley's drive before Leicester broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.

It was calamitous from Watford though as they failed to deal with Danny Drinkwater's cross, Etienne Capoue's weak clearance falling for Ndidi to smash in his third Foxes goal from eight yards.

Two minutes later Mahrez's shot deflected onto the top of the bar and Watford went into the break trailing. They had never won a Premier League game when behind at half-time in 54 previous attempts.

And it never looked likely they would break that run even before Mahrez doubled Leicester's lead.

Gomes had already saved Vardy's low effort three minutes after the restart before the Algeria international marked his 100th Premier League appearance with his 10th goal of the season.

It was a simple one too as Mariappa made a mess of dealing with Vardy's flick to allow Mahrez to nip in on the right and slip the ball in at Gomes' near post.

Vardy and substitute Islam Slimani then wasted quickfire openings while Schmeichel saved from Niang and Cleverley as the Foxes eased to victory in a low-key second half.

And Albrighton wrapped it up in injury time when he fired in off the post after Vardy led a quick break.

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