Jamie Vardy scored a hat-trick as Leicester City inflicted a remarkable defeat on Manchester City to go top of the Premier League.
Despite going behind to a superb fourth-minute strike by former Foxes midfielder Riyad Mahrez, the visitors responded in stunning fashion.
Vardy levelled with a penalty before the break after he had been fouled by Kyle Walker, and he then sealed his second treble against Pep Guardiola’s side from the spot, after he had cleverly turned home Timothy Castagne’s cross to make it 2-1.
James Maddison scored for the first time since 1 January when he curled home a stunning fourth for Leicester.
And although Nathan Ake pulled one back with his first goal since a £40m summer move from Bournemouth, a third Leicester penalty – this time converted by Youri Tielemans because Vardy had already gone off – completed a memorable afternoon for Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes, who have started a top-flight season with three successive wins for the first time.
In contrast, Guardiola was suffering his worst home defeat as City boss, with his team now in the bottom half of the table.
For most of the opening period, the possibility of Leicester returning to the top of the table appeared remote.
But with Vardy they always have a chance. Even at the age of 33, the striker remains frighteningly fast.
Walker is no slouch but the England right-back was panicked into making a rash challenge when the Leicester forward got ahead of him inside the box. Vardy’s powerful spot-kick gave Ederson no chance of keeping it out.
His second penalty was equally emphatic after another City defender, Eric Garcia, had got himself into the wrong position as he tried to challenge Vardy.
In between, Vardy tucked home a poacher’s effort Leicester’s most celebrated old boy, Gary Lineker, would have been proud of. The supplier was Castagne, who is turning into a very astute purchase, given how willing the Belgian is to push forward from his right-back role as manager Rodgers demands.
Maddison’s return adds the dimension the Foxes lacked so badly as their 2019-20 season petered out into a relatively disappointing fifth-place finish.
The only sour note for the visitors were injuries to midfielder Dennis Praet and defender Jonny Evans.
The latter in particular may prompt some hard thinking among the Leicester hierarchy, given they had a £30m bid for Burnley centre-back James Tarkowski turned down on Friday.
Man City’s market move
It is now just a matter of time before Benfica defender Ruben Dias completes his move to the Eithad. And on this evidence, the Portugal international cannot come soon enough. The fee will be about £65m, with centre-back Nicolas Otamendi going the other way for about £13.7m in a separate deal.
Guardiola has made the purchase of a right-sided central defender a priority before the transfer window closes on 5 October. He does not trust either Otamendi or England international John Stones in that role – and he knows if the situation is not addressed, the chances of City overhauling Liverpool are almost non-existent.
Against Leicester, Eric Garcia, wearing a headguard to protect the 16 stitches he sustained during a training ground incident that kept him out of the season opener at Wolves, started in the position earmarked for 23-year-old Dias.
In defence, it was an orthodox role in a four-man backline. But as soon as the hosts were in possession – which was fairly often – Garcia became the central component of a back three, which skipper Fernandinho was part of, allowing Walker and Benjamin Mendy to turn into wing-backs.
Garcia’s future is unclear. The 19-year-old Spaniard has a year left on his contract, has refused to sign another and wants to go back to Barcelona.
More to follow.
- 6AkéBooked at 60mins
- 25FernandinhoSubstituted forDelapat 51′minutes
- 17De Bruyne
- 47FodenSubstituted forTorresat 64′minutes
- 18AmarteyBooked at 51mins
- 6EvansSubstituted forFuchsat 80′minutes
- 4SöyüncüBooked at 47mins
- 26PraetSubstituted forMaddisonat 69′minutes
- 8TielemansBooked at 22mins
- 9VardySubstituted forIheanachoat 85′minutes
Match ends, Manchester City 2, Leicester City 5.
Second Half ends, Manchester City 2, Leicester City 5.
Offside, Leicester City. James Justin tries a through ball, but Kelechi Iheanacho is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Ferran Torres (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Goal! Manchester City 2, Leicester City 5. Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Penalty conceded by Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty Leicester City. James Maddison draws a foul in the penalty area.
Foul by Rodrigo (Manchester City).
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Leicester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Jamie Vardy.
Goal! Manchester City 2, Leicester City 4. Nathan Aké (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Jamie Vardy.
Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City).
Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ferran Torres.
Attempt blocked. Kyle Walker (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Substitution, Leicester City. Christian Fuchs replaces Jonny Evans because of an injury.
Hand ball by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).