An insatiable performance by Jamie Vardy ensured Leicester remained eight points clear at the summit of the Sky Bet Championship, dismantling a hapless IpswichTown 3-0 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Vardy opened the scoring and notched his 12th league goal of the season in the process, capitalising on a lapse of concentration in the visitors defence before decisively slotting the home side in to the lead on the 19th minute.
The ravenous Vardy was at the heart of everything positive for the home-side, and he played a hand in the second goal too- finding a marauding De Laet down the right flank who expertly found Nugent at the back-post to double the Foxes’ lead.
Substitute Chris Wood put the result beyond doubt in the dying embers of the game, easing the ball in to the far corner to grab a much-needed goal in an injury hit campaign for the Kiwi-International.
Leicester fans often travel to the King Power in expectation rather than hope this season, with the Foxes unbeaten at home in the league since their 0-2 defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forrest on November 9th, and today was no exception.
The home side instantly clicked in to their table-topping stride, with Wes Morgan stinging the palms of Dean Gerken early on with a towering header from an out-swinging Matty James corner.
Jamie Vardy’s trademark tenacity from the first whistle sparked the Foxes faithful in to full voice, with the front man’s abundance of energy leaving the Tractor Boys’ defence tentatively rushing the ball out from the back.
But the home-side did not have it all their own way in the opening stages. On the 11th minute, a hospital ball by Ritchie De Laet on the edge of the box left Matty James in inhospitable surroundings, and the ex-Manchester United man was robbed of possession by the marauding Cole Skuse for Ipswich, but he could only drag his golden chance wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s right-hand post.
However it was indeed the persistence of Vardy that eventually broke the dead-lock on the 19th minute. Following a quick-timed clearance from Schmeichel to release David Nugent down the right, the play broke down before a careless back-pass from visiting captain Luke Chambers allowed Vardy in to sumptuously round keeper Dean Gerken and slot home from a tight angle.
After a lull in the game, whereby Ipswich established a relative foothold back in the tie, though without a spell of forthright possession, they failed to threaten Schmeichel in the Leicester goal. And it was in fact the home-side who then doubled their lead against the run of play on the half-hour mark.
The effervescent Vardy instigated the opening once again, wriggling away from the forlorn Christoph Berra at the back for Ipswich, before laying an exquisite cut back to De Laet who saw his first cross blocked, only for his second attempt to find a surprised Nugent at the back-post who tapped-home unmarked.
It was a milestone moment for Nugent, as his goal marked his 50th goal in the blue of Leicester and also the 16th of his current, stellar campaign.
With Pearson’s men in the ascendancy, and the Ipswich rearguard seemingly in turmoil, the attacking quintet of Vardy, Nugent, Lloyd Dyer and Anthony Knockaert frequently picked holes in a hapless defensive performance from the away side.
Knockaert came close with a sumptuous free-kick on the edge of the box which was just a whisker wide of the post, before an innovative, stooping header from Wasilewski in the dying embers of the first half narrowly looped over the crossbar.
Despite the efforts of the visitor’s lone-striker Frank Nouble, he cast an estranged figure for large spells of the game for Tractor Boys, who looked desperately inept in the final third in the absence of top scorer David McGoldrick, who looks set to be sidelined for the season with a cruicate knee ligament injury.
With the second half failing to live up to the heights of the scintillating first, it was an improved Ipswich side that started the brighter. Displaying a new found resilience, the away side came close to spoiling the applecart on the 58th minute but the late-arriving Chambers at the back-post could not turn the ball home from a tight angle.
The away-side continued to grow in stature, almost reaping the rewards of their direct style of play, with Darryl Murphy surrendering a couple of half-chances which Schmeichel easily smothered.
Unsurprisingly Leicester soon regained the ascendancy, with the introduction of January arrival Riyad Mahrez, fresh from scoring his first goal for the club on Tuesday night against Forrest, adding another dimension to the free-flowing Foxes’ attack.
The incessant counter-attacking mantra which has served Leicester so well this season, threatened to carve open the visitors once more. After dogged determination from substitute Chris Wood, the ball fell nicely to Knockaert at the back-post who selflessly teed up the overlapping Jeff Schlupp who unleashed a ferocious shot which was expertly parried by the beleaguered Gerken in the Ipswich goal.
Despite seemingly content with what they held for the most part of the second half, the Foxes instigated one last flurry for the bumper 28,078 crowd at the King Power, which resulted in their third and final goal of the game.
James’ dispossessed Skuse in the middle of the park before despatching Wood with a superb first time ball which severed through the Ipswich defence. Displaying superior strength and determination, Wood shrugged off Berra’s negligent advances before coolly firing home his 2nd league goal of the season.
A comprehensive win, with all three strikers on the score-sheet, ensured Leicester remain at the top of the Sky Bet Championship, 8 points clear of nearest challengers Burnley. Meanwhile, defeat for Ipswich, means they are without a win in three and remain in 10th position.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Wasilewski, Schlupp, Drinkwater, James, Dyer (Mahrez 64’), Knockaert, Nugent (Phillips 83’) and Vardy (Wood, 72’)
Substitutes: Logan, Hammond, King, Moore, Mahrez, Phillips and Wood
Ipswich Town: Gerken, Cresswell, Chambers, Berra, Smith, Skuse, Hunt (Taylor 75’), Green, Tabb (Anderson 60’), Murphy and Nouble (Ebanks-Blake 66’)
Substitutes: Loach, Anderson, Wordsworth, Mings, Richardson, Taylor and Ebanks-Blake
Attendance: 28,078 (1,212 Away)