Leicester City 2-0 Watford: Vardy scores in seventh consecutive match as Foxes regain second
Photo by Getty Images/Marc Atkins

The fairytale, mark II, goes on. Leicester City showed no signs of resigning their position in the upper reaches of the table any time soon as they dispatched managerless Watford at the King Power Stadium, though their evening's work was not as straightforward as the scoreline would suggest.

After a goalless first half, Jamie Vardy notched from the penalty spot to maintain his scoring streak, and James Maddison added a second with one of the last kicks of the game, sending the Foxes back into second place.

Despite the scoreline, the Hornets can yield positivity from the match as interim head coach Hayden Mullins breathed a new dimension into the visitors. Nonetheless, they remain marooned at the foot of the Premier League table.

Story of the game

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers made on change from the victory over Everton at the weekend as experienced full-back Christian Füchs replaced Ben Chilwell on the left side of defence.

Meanwhile, in the opposite dugout, Mullins also altered the Watford line-up from that which lost to Southampton on Saturday: a change of formation saw José Holebas replaced by captain Troy Deeney, who took his place up front in a four-at-the-back shape.

There was an early scare for the visitors as Vardy was unleashed behind their defence before squaring the ball for Ayoze Pérez who blazed his shot over the bar. Replays showed the former may have been offside anyway.

Pérez had another opportunity when Vardy worked his way down the left flank and crossed into the centre. With the aid of a deflection, it reached the feet of the Spaniard, who again skewed his shot off target.

Watford were slow to get going in the opening stages and prone to poor touches and lapses of concentration, but they soon mustered their composure and the game edged into mundanity as both sides moved the ball well though with little purpose or developments on either goal.

In the 22nd minute, the Hornets fashioned a good opportunity to take an unexpected lead. An incisive counter-attack saw Ismaïla Sarr exchange a one-two with Gerard Deulofeu and the former drove at goal to feed the latter one-on-one against Kasper Schmeichel, but Ricardo Pereira got a vital touch to divert it behind for a corner.

Moments later, Maddison and Harvey Barnes created triangles to disentangle an organised Watford defence. The latter worked into space for a shot at goal which hit the side netting.

After a period of inaction, Barnes was involved again as he picked the ball up on the edge of the attacking third and meandered his way past numerous challenges and into the Watford box. However, goalkeeper Ben Foster did well to rush out and meet the ensuing shot early.

Pérez then supplied Vardy with a ball into the box, and the striker appeared to be felled by Adrian Mariappa, but referee Craig Pawson booked him for diving. The decision was reviewed by VAR, which opted not to overturn the original call.

Just before half-time, Deulofeu found acres of space on the left flank and cut a calm pass across goal for Will Hughes in the centre of the box, whose goal-bound shot was deflected wide by Deeney.

Shortly after the break, Leicester were given a gilt-edged chance to take the lead as Jonny Evans headed the ball down for centre-back partner Caglar Soyuncu, but the 23-year old blasted his effort high and wide.

The Foxes maintained their pressure, and earned another opportunity when Ricardo dribbled infield and picked out Barnes on the opposite side of the box. He danced away from Kiko Femenía, but saw his left-footed shot saved well again by Foster.

Their siege on the Watford goal was rewarded when a cross was directed into the Watford box in the 53rd minute. As Adam Masina jostled with Evans for the header, his hand made contact with the face of the latter in an action which Pawson deemed worthy of a penalty. After a minute or so of deliberation, VAR decided to affirm the decision, and Vardy duly dispatched from the spot.

Buoyed by their lead, Leicester continued pushing. Substitute Dennis Praet picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and struck at goal, but saw his effort deflected wide of the target.

In the next phase of play, Vardy wreaked havoc again as he bolted onto a through ball from Youri Tielemans and dinked the ball over Foster, but Masina made up for his earlier error to clear heroically off the line.

Watford eventually regained their shape and navigated the next fifteen minutes without conceding any major chances. For their own part, they pushed to muster a draw in the closing stages, but the closest they came was through Domingos Quina, whose shot from the edge of the area was saved effortlessly by Schmeichel.

Cue the counter-attack to full effect. Leicester flew up to the other end of the pitch and Maddison evaded the tackle of Mariappa before dispatching past Foster on his weaker foot. It proved the last kick of the game, and the last blow of breath in a gruelling evening's work for the flying Foxes.

Takeaways from the match

Vardy edges closer to his own record

As Leicester continue to chase a second Premier League title against the odds, it is worth making note of one of the constants between their fairytale campaign four years ago and now.

Vardy struck 24 goals in 2015/16 but, if he somehow keeps up his rate of 14 in 15 so far this season, he will far exceed that total. The evidence of the eye suggests it would be cruel to doubt him, though.

The record for consecutive matches scored in stands at 11, set by Vardy as he and his teammates chased the trophy back in 2015. His current streak is seven and, given his superb form of late, only looks set to continue.

A new approach for Watford

First and foremost, it must be said that points are of essence in Watford's present situation, and defeat here, as much as in any other game, has been damaging to their cause.

However, the debut of interim head coach Mullins provided reasons to be positive.

The Hornets were more organised in their pressing and employed a deeper defensive line to counteract the considerable pace of their opponents. At the other end of the pitch, they were more incisive in attack, pointing towards a more coherent gameplan in that regard.

Emulating performances such as this could well yield more favourable results in the future.

VAR controversial once again

A contentious decision not to award a penalty in the first half was cancelled out by an even more surprising call to give one in the second. Most onlookers will arguably testify that it should have been the other way around.

Mariappa certainly appeared to clip Vardy around the half-hour mark, but the contact from Masina on Evans was less obvious, and the pleas of the latter slightly more reserved.

Again, the arbitrary concept of 'clear and obvious' errors was applied in VAR's decision not to overturn the original calls of Pawson.

Up next

Leicester will continue their push to consolidate their position in the Champions League places as they travel to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Watford will host Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road, and reports suggest Mullins will still be the man in charge for the fixture.

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