Promotions

Leicester City 2 : 0 Sheffield Wednesday

Leicester’s charge towards the Championship title continued unabated as Jamie Vardy scored against his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday.

The 37-year-old veteran, out of contract this summer, notched his first-ever goal against the Owls – and his 11th of the season – after Abdul Fatawu had pounced on a dreadful defensive error to open the scoring early on.

That was enough to secure a fifth straight win in all competitions for the leaders and stretch their cushion at the top of the table to 12 points, despite Wednesday, deep in relegation trouble, rallying after the break.

Danny Rohl’s side made a game of it in the second half but still slumped to their 13th away league defeat of the season and they remain five points adrift of safety in 23rd place.

Vardy made his first league start since the 1-1 draw between the clubs at Hillsborough in November and, with Jannik Vestergaard back from injury and Stephy Mavididi returning to cause havoc down the left, Leicester are looking stronger as the finishing post nears.

They got a big helping hand inside four minutes from a nervy Wednesday defence – who had conceded four times in each of their past three away games, yet still decided to play out from the back.

Goalkeeper James Beadle gave the ball to Will Vaulks, under intense pressure from Dennis Praet, and when the Wednesday man lost control, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall pounced. His cross was dummied by Vardy, leaving Fatawu with a simple finish.

Things looked ominous for the Owls as the dancing feet of Mavididi teased the defence and both Harry Winks and Wout Faes missed good chances to double the lead, while Wednesday fans were left ironically celebrating a tame Marvin Johnson shot, their first goal attempt.

Leicester doubled their lead with a goal of simple beauty as Faes’ sweeping pass picked out Dewsbury-Hall and he produced a sumptuous cushioned volley into the path of Vardy, who finished with typical lethality.

Vardy’s future is uncertain, but he continues to give the Leicester executive team food for thought, the goal being his sixth in the last seven games. Indeed, he is now the club’s outright top scorer this term.

Wednesday, buoyed by the ever-willing Barry Bannan, responded well as Ike Ugbo almost got a goalscoring touch on Johnson’s cross and Djeidi Gassama forced Mads Hermansen into a sharp save.

Rohl’s team built on that improved finish to the half and actually had the better of the second 45 minutes after Dewsbury-Hall miskicked a great chance to settle it and Faes bounced a cross off the top of the bar.

With Bannan whipping the travelling fans into loud support, substitute Michael Smith failed to get a decent header on a dangerous Pol Valentin cross and Anthony Musaba forced another important save from Hermansen.

Mallik Wilks and Bannan also went close as Wednesday continued to show real spirit, while Valentin screwed a volley wide from their best chance of all.

Leicester had allowed themselves to drop down a gear in the second half, but the win means they now have a 14-point lead over Southampton in third.

Foxes head coach Enzo Maresca told:

“We played very well in the first half, on the ball and off the ball, and in the second half we struggled a little bit off the ball in the first 10 to 15 minutes because they changed some things, but overall I’m very happy.

“I started to see the team playing the way I would like in the first friendly game against Liverpool and, for sure, with time we are going to improve.

“Patson [Daka] is doing very well and playing always, but Jamie [Vardy] is also. We are trying to share the minutes for them.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl told:

“Leicester always use man-to-man pressing and if you crack that pressing, the field is open. We had some moments, but it’s about finding the right moment and the right decision.

“We can speak about the mistake [for the opening goal] but if we come through the first pressing line and score… I look back to the Birmingham game when we scored two times [by going] from the goalkeeper to open play, and everybody is celebrating, and now it’s about the mistake.

“Today it was more important to me to show the reaction and we did. After conceding two goals we did not drop down – if you look back before the Birmingham game we conceded a lot of goals in a short period and it was much, much better today.”