Sunderland 0-2 Leicester City: Vardy brace sees Foxes close in on title

Leicester City now only three wins away from the Barclays Premier League title following a hard-fought win at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland 0-2 Leicester City: Vardy brace sees Foxes close in on title
Jamie Vardy celebrates with his Leicester City team-mates during the Foxes' victory over Sunderland (Photo: Getty)
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Leicester City
Sunderland: Mannone; Yedlin, Kaboul, Kone, van Aanholt; Kirchhoff, Cattermole, M'Vila (Rodwell, min. 72), Khazri (N'Doye, min. 72), Borini (Lens, min. 76); Defoe.
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs; Albrighton (Amartey, min. 84), Kante, Drinkwater, Mahrez (Gray, min. 81); Okazaki (Ulloa, min. 62), Vardy.
SCORE: 0-1, min. 67, Vardy. 0-2, min. 90+5, Vardy.
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor (ENG). Admonished Borini (min. 21), Fuchs (min. 30)
INCIDENTS: Premier League clash between Sunderland and Leicester City. The match was played at the Stadium of Light.

Travelling up to Wearside on Sunday lunchtime, Leicester City looked to overcome a tough test in the form of Sam Allardyce's relegation-threatened Sunderland.

Hoping to extend their seven-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League ahead of Tottenham Hotspur's clash with Manchester United later in the day, many thought that any type of result at the Stadium of Light could be pivotal in the race for the title. Nonetheless, with the home side also scrapping for as many points as they could in their battle against relegation, it was always going to be a hard-fought affair.

Team News

As has come to be expected of Claudio Ranieri's team now, the Foxes remained unchanged following their 1-0 victory over Southampton last weekend. Including the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton, it was clear that the East-Midlanders were again attempting to utilise their extreme pace to trouble their hosts (as they had done in their 4-2 win on the opening day of the season).

Elsewhere, the Black Cats also fielded another unchanged line-up to the one seen in their 0-0 stalemate against West Bromwich Albion last weekend. Partnering the experienced finishing ability of Jermain Defoe with the dynamism of former Liverpool man Fabio Borini, the hosts were looking to display plenty of attacking intent.

Nevertheless, the real story for both teams was in the middle of the park. Seeing the likes of N'Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater going up against Yann M'Vila, Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff, fans were looking forward to an encapsulating midfield battle in the North East of England.

Flying Foxes fall flat in the first half

As it happened, following a good start in which the likes of Shinji Okazaki and Wes Morgan had half chances to open the scoring at the Stadium of Light, the home side really grew into the game and started to earn considerable possession. With former Bayern Munich stalwart, Jan Kirchhoff, patrolling the middle of the park, the match did indeed develop into a combative midfield battle.

As a result, the Black Cats did get their first chance in front of Kasper Schmeichel's goal not long after. Spinning a ball into the box and behind the Leicester defence, it just evaded any touch from Wahbi Khazri and fortunately (for Ranieri's side) bounced just wide of the far post.

On the other hand, Leicester had a good shout for a spot-kick as the home side looked to build some pressure. Linking up with Marc Albrighton, Shinji Okazaki easily got free on the left-hand side of the box but was inexplicably halted by a high challenge from DeAndre Yedlin. However, Anthony Taylor waved away appeals from the Japanese international.

As a matter of fact, the home side appeared to have a good shout for penalty kick of their own only minutes later. Driving into the Leicester box from the left-hand side, Patrick van Aanholt looked to pull the ball back for the onrushing Jermain Defoe. However, the Dutchman's pass appeared to be halted by the arm of Robert Huth as he slid along the floor but the referee was again unmoved.

In fact, Allardyce's troops then had another very good chance to get on the scoresheet. Later in the first half, Borini and Defoe linked up well to float into the Leicester box and it was the former that unleashed a sweet strike. Just taking a deflection off of Leicester skipper, Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel saved well with his feet to uphold his side's exemplary defensive record since Christmas as the first period drew to a close.

Vardy opens the scoring at the Stadium of Light | Photo: Getty
Vardy opens the scoring at the Stadium of Light | Photo: Getty

Chances go begging

Going into the second half, the game continued exactly where it let off with both teams particularly error-strewn and wasting glorious chances. First, it was Fabio Borini's turn to test Kasper Schmeichel. Picking up the ball on the edge of the Leicester area, the Italian hit the ball well but just saw it fly a few inches over the upright.

Then, Danny Drinkwater found himself in a great position to open the scoring. Latching onto a clever ball from fellow England international, Jamie Vardy, the former Manchester United youngster was soon one-on-one with Vito Mannone but failed to fully connect.

On the other hand, the Foxes did then go ahead via the aforementioned Vardy. Linking up with Drinwater yet again, the ex-Fleetwood Town forward only had Younes Kaboul to beat as he sprung the home side's offside trap and with his pace, it was pretty easy. Bearing down on the Sunderland goal, he hit a right-foot strike crashing into the back of the net, sending the away contingent into raptures in the process.

Nail-biting finale

Following the Foxes' opener, the Black Cats again looked to build some considerable pressure and in fact, after being subbed on mid-way through the second period, Jack Rodwell had the best chance of the game. After attempting to break through the Leicester back-line, the former Manchester City man fortunately saw the ball bounce to him only a few yards from goal. However, somehow, he lifted the ball over the bar to the relief of the Leicester fans.

He was soon to regret that. As the game was moving into the closing stages. Demarai Gray prodded the ball to Jamie Vardy as Sunderland committed forwards. Outstrengthing Patrick van Aanholt on his way to goal, the speedy striker was then able to skip past the goalkeeper and simply roll the ball into the net to earn his 21st goal of the season.

As a result, the Foxes go ten points clear at the top of the Premier League before Tottenham Hotspur's game with Manchester United at White Hart Lane.