Jamie Vardy wonder strike helps Leicester send out title warning
Jamie Vardy's wonder strike helped Leicester send out a title warning as they breezed past Liverpool 2-0.
The striker's brilliant brace maintained the Foxes' three-point lead over Manchester City - ahead of their top-of-the-table showdown on Saturday.
In front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson the 29-year-old netted a stunning 25-yard effort before firing in from close range to continue his stellar campaign.
Vardy is in talks with City to extend his deal and reached 18 Barclays Premier League goals for the season to underline his importance to Claudio Ranieri and help prove outstanding Leicester's title credentials.
They were everything Liverpool were not, incisive, gritty, classy and determined as the Reds showed Jurgen Klopp how far they have to go.
Leicester were on top from the off and Riyad Mahrez curled wide inside two minutes and they came closer seven minutes later.
Vardy, who had already worried the messy Liverpool defence, scampered down the left and delivered the perfect cross for Shinji Okazaki, only for Simon Mignolet to turn his header onto the bar.
The hosts found it too easy to work space behind the visitors' backline as Vardy stretched Klopp's men.
Liverpool were angered when Robert Huth's stray elbow caught Adam Lallana in the face but it was symptomatic of the game, the Reds were rarely up for the fight.
Mignolet saved Mahrez's speculative volley after 15 minutes as Leicester threatened with every attack.
Slowly, Liverpool regained some composure as Jordan Henderson and James Milner tried to assert some authority but they needed Mignolet to ensure they went into the break level when he turned Mahrez's brilliant 30-yard effort over.
The Reds, in contrast to Leicester's feisty assaults, were powderpuff.
Roberto Firmino lacked the presence to worry Wes Morgan and Huth and Liverpool's aimless attacking efforts never troubled the hosts.
Alberto Moreno came closest when he woefully shot over five minutes before the break but the visitors had yet to find their radar.
Emre Can's deflected drive just after the restart showed improvement but Dejan Lovren continued to wilt against the pace and determination of Vardy.
And the England forward showed why he is so highly valued at the King Power Stadium on the hour. For all of the Foxes' neat play, it came from a route one ball from deep by Mahrez.
Vardy was instantly on the move, leaving Lovren trailing, and he allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder before unleashing a first-time half-volley from 25 yards which screamed over Mignolet.
Worse was to follow for Liverpool 12 minutes later when Vardy doubled the lead.
The visitors' defence were sloppy to allow Okazaki to shoot and Lovren saw the striker's deflected effort run through to Vardy who did the rest.
In between, Leicester wanted a penalty after Okazaki seemed to be felled by Moreno but they did not need the extra help.
In response to Vardy's opener Klopp threw on Christian Benteke but the striker increasingly looks like a £32.5million misfit.
But for Leicester, Vardy was worth his weight in goals as they kept their title bid on track.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Goal of the decade from Vardy!" - Former Leicester and England striker Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) was just a little bit impressed with Vardy's opening goal.
Kasper Schmeichel: 7/10
Danny Simpson: 7
Robert Huth: 7
Wes Morgan: 7
Christian Fuchs: 7
Marc Albrighton: 7
Danny Drinkwater: 7
N'Golo Kante: 7
Riyad Mahrez: 8
Shinji Okazaki: 7
Jamie Vardy: 9
Demarai Gray: 6
Andy King: 6
Leonardo Ulloa: 6
Simon Mignolet: 7
Nathaniel Clyne: 5
Dejan Lovren: 5
Mamadou Sakho: 5
Alberto Moreno: 5
Jordan Henderson: 5
Emre Can: 5
Lucas Leiva: 5
James Milner: 5
Adam Lallana: 5
Robert Firmino: 5
Christian Benteke: 5
Joe Allen: 5
Joao Teixeira: 5
Jamie Vardy. The England man is on the verge of a new contract and celebrated with his 17th and 18th goals of the campaign - his first a contender for goal of the season. He gave Dejan Lovren a torrid time, especially highlighted by his second goal, and never let the centre-back rest. It was a classic all-action Vardy performance - right in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
There cannot be another one than Vardy's wonder goal as he opened the scoring to set the Foxes on their way. The striker and Riyad Mahrez have combined so well this season and they did so again to devastating effect. Mahrez's long clearance saw Vardy race away and his spectacular 25-yard strike flew past Simon Mignolet.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH:
Claudio Ranieri would have been purring following his side's dominant victory as they swatted away Liverpool. It was one of the Foxes' most complete performances of the season and kept them top. For Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool defeat left them floundering and showed Klopp how much work he has to do.
MOAN OF THE MATCH:
Liverpool were a shadow of what Jurgen Klopp would expect for the money the Reds have spent before his arrival. Dejan Lovren was given the runaround by Vardy and substitute Christian Benteke, only called upon after Liverpool had fallen behind, was anonymous. There needs to be a serious rebuilding job by Klopp to get the Reds challenging again.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Manchester City v Leicester (Barclays Premier League, February 6)
Liverpool v Sunderland (Barclays Premier League, February 6)