Leicester 4-2 Watford: Jamie Vardy scores two on Claudio Ranieri’s return to the King Power Stadium

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy scored 24 goals in 2015-16 as Leicester, under Claudio Ranieri, won the Premier League title

Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester beat Watford in a hugely entertaining match to ruin Claudio Ranieri’s return to the King Power Stadium.

Ranieri was in the opponents’ dugout for the first time since guiding the Foxes to the 2015-16 Premier League title and received a great reception from the home fans.

But in a chaotic and thrilling game played in blizzard conditions, his current side played a big part in their own downfall.

There looked to be no danger when Jonny Evans launched a free-kick forward, but William Ekong ducked under the ball and that allowed James Maddison to fire the 16th-minute opener past Daniel Bachmann.

Watford were gifted a chance to equalise in the 30th minute when Wilfred Ndidi clumsily chopped down Emmanuel Dennis and Joshua King fired his penalty into the top corner.

But the hosts retook the lead four minutes later as Vardy produced a fine lifted finish following Maddison’s pass and the pair combined again just before half-time with Vardy glancing in a header from Maddison’s corner.

Dennis then dispossessed Timothy Castagne and calmly finished to make it 3-2 in the 61st minute, but the hosts quickly restored their two-goal advantage after Harvey Barnes set up Ademola Lookman for a close-range tap-in.

The victory takes Leicester up from 13th into ninth, while Watford remain 16th, four points above the relegation zone.

Watford’s defensive frailties on display

Leicester’s win was only their fifth of the season from 13 Premier League matches. Manager Brendan Rodgers will have been delighted with his side’s effort in tough, sometimes farcical conditions, in their second game in four days after a 3-1 win over Legia Warsaw on Thursday.

The match began in clear conditions, but after 20 minutes the snow came and did not stop for the rest of the encounter.

Burnley’s home clash with Tottenham was postponed earlier on Sunday because of heavy snow at Turf Moor and in the second half at Leicester, the game was paused as ground staff used brooms to clear the snow just to see the lines of the penalty area.

That left seven minutes of injury time, but the game was able to be completed, although Vardy later claimed Bachmann was “trying to get it called off with the ref”.

“You have to stay professional and we did that. Pitches have undersoil heating and we weren’t worried,” added Vardy.

Asked if he feared the game would get called off, Rodgers said: “I was hoping not. The last game I was involved in like that was Swansea away at Ipswich, at Portman Road.

“But the ground staff cleared the areas the referee wanted and the ball was moving fine. The snow lightened off and we were able to see the game through.”

Watford had beaten Manchester United 4-1 last time out – a result that cost United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job. But they looked fragile in defence throughout against the Foxes. Vardy nearly had a first-half hat-trick, but was denied by the legs of Bachmann.

It will have been an afternoon of mixed emotions for Ranieri as Leicester fans sang songs praising him throughout the match – a tribute to the club’s achievements five years ago when they won the league after being written off as 5,000-1 no-hopers at the start of the campaign.

Ranieri has now had six games in charge of Watford and lost four of them. His side have not had a clean sheet all season and need to dramatically improve at the back and do so quickly.

European champions Chelsea visit Vicarage Road on Wednesday and reigning Premier League title holders Manchester City follow on Saturday.

If Watford defend like they did at the King Power Stadium, they could well be on the end of two thrashings.

Player of the match

VardyJamie Vardy

Leicester City

  1. Squad number9Player nameVardy

  2. Squad number10Player nameMaddison

  3. Squad number7Player nameBarnes

  4. Squad number11Player nameAlbrighton

  5. Squad number37Player nameLookman

  6. Squad number22Player nameDewsbury-Hall

  7. Squad number6Player nameEvans

  8. Squad number25Player nameNdidi

  9. Squad number33Player nameThomas

  10. Squad number4Player nameSöyüncü

  11. Squad number27Player nameCastagne

  12. Squad number42Player nameSoumaré

  13. Squad number1Player nameSchmeichel

Line-ups

Leicester

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Schmeichel
  • 27Castagne
  • 6Evans
  • 4Söyüncü
  • 33Thomas
  • 42Soumaré
  • 25Ndidi
  • 37LookmanSubstituted forAlbrightonat 75′minutes
  • 10MaddisonSubstituted forDewsbury-Hallat 88′minutes
  • 7Barnes
  • 9Vardy

Substitutes

  • 11Albrighton
  • 12Ward
  • 14Iheanacho
  • 17Pérez
  • 18Amartey
  • 20Choudhury
  • 22Dewsbury-Hall
  • 23Vestergaard
  • 29Daka

Watford

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 26Bachmann
  • 21Femenía
  • 15Cathcart
  • 5Troost-Ekong
  • 11Masina
  • 6LouzaSubstituted forJoão Pedroat 45′minutes
  • 29Hernández
  • 8CleverleySubstituted forTufanat 45′minutes
  • 19Sissoko
  • 7King
  • 25DennisSubstituted forFletcherat 71′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Ngakia
  • 3Rose
  • 10João Pedro
  • 16Gosling
  • 17Fletcher
  • 18Tufan
  • 27Kabasele
  • 35Elliot
  • 42Morris

Referee:
Andy Madley

Attendance:
34,310

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