Aston Villa 1 Leicester 4 - Report and pictures
Jamie Vardy netted twice as rampant Leicester City inflicted Villa’s heaviest defeat of the season.
The England international opened the scoring for the second-placed visitors before Kelechi Iheanacho doubled the lead.
Jack Grealish gave Villa hope when he pulled one back just before the break but Jonny Evans quickly restored the two-goal advantage in the second half.
Vardy then grabbed his second and Leicester’s fourth with 15 minutes remaining as the visitors recorded their ninth straight win in all competitions
Villa paid tribute to Ron Saunders following their legendary manager’s passing earlier in the weekend.
But the pre-match fanfare proved to be the highlight of the day for the home side, with the match rapidly descending into a chastening affair.
Villa went close to taking an early lead when Anwar El Ghazi hit the bar but were then knocked off stride by an injury to Tyrone Mings, with Vardy opening the scoring before Dean Smith could make the change.
From that point on there only looked like being one winner and though Grealish’s goal gave Villa brief hope, it was quickly extinguished when Evans headed home four minutes after the break.
Leicester, who were excellent, could and indeed probably should have scored more.
The Foxes now appear the only realistic challengers to runaway leaders Liverpool. For Villa, who have now lost five out of seven, a battle at the other end of the table beckons if they put in many more performances like this.
Now is very much the time for cool heads after the toughest afternoon of their Premier League return so far.
The two changes from the team beaten 2-1 at Chelsea in midweek included an immediate recall for the fit-again El Ghazi.
Douglas Luiz was also restored to the XI in place of Conor Hourihane, though Ahmed Elmohamady kept his spot despite the availability, following suspension, of Frederic Guilbert.
The start to the match was as lively and unpredictable as the weather which delivered a brief rainstorm.
Leicester were the first to threaten and it required a timely block from Ezri Konsa to deny James Maddison.
Jonny Evans then missed a glorious chance to break the deadlock when he prodded an effort straight at Heaton.
Villa should have gone ahead 60 seconds later when Matt Targett’s cross, just out of reach of John McGinn and Wesley, fell perfectly to El Ghazi. But the Dutchman, leaning back, sent his shot clattering against the bar from seven yards out.
Leicester’s opener followed a lengthy period of treatment for Mings, who had gone down feeling his hamstring.
From the restart, Villa lost the ball and Iheanacho played in Vardy. He rounded Heaton but miscued the finish, only for his slip to also wrongfoot Konsa. With both men briefly on the ground it was Vardy who regained his footing quickest to slot home.
Villa looked for a way back and El Ghazi headed narrowly over from a Targett cross.
But Leicester were looking threatening with every attack while Villa’s defence, with Engels now on in place of Mings, creaking badly.
It was no surprise when the second goal arrived four minutes before the break, Iheanacho finishing neatly from Maddison’s cross.
Villa already appeared well out of it but Grealish’s strike, with virtually the last kick of the half, gave them hope.
Leicester failed to clear their lines following a corner and the home skipper struck with a shot which took a slight deflection before cannoning in off the post.
Villa started the second half with a spring in their step and El Ghazi forced Schmeichel into a sharp stop after being played in by Grealish.
But again the hosts were made to pay for going to sleep in defence, Evans being allowed to rise unmarked at the far post before powering Maddison’s corner beyond Heaton.
Smith brought Trezeguet off the bench as he looked to give his team a spark but it was Leicester who should have increased their advantage further when Maddison clipped the outside of the post.
Youri Tielemans and Barnes, the latter on as a substitute, both might have netted before Vardy did grab the fourth, racing on to a long ball before firing under Heaton.
21 - GOAL Jamie Vardy fires Leicester in front, latching on to Kelechi Iheanacho’s pass before rounding Tom Heaton and eventually slotting home at the second attempt.
41 - GOAL Kelechi Iheanacho doubles the visiting team’s lead, converting James Maddison’s cross.
45+2 GOAL Jack Grealish pulls one back for Villa, driving in a shot off the far post after the visitors fail to clear a corner.
49 - GOAL Jonny Evans restores Leicester’s two-goal advantage, heading home Maddison’s corner after being left unmarked by the home defence.
75 - GOAL Vardy gets his second of the game, racing on to a long ball before finishing under Heaton.