Leicester City are a step closer to making their dream a reality after Claudio Ranieri’s men swatted aside Swansea to tighten their grip on the Premier League title.
Supposed relegation fodder and considered a 5,000-1 shot for the title, the Foxes edged towards a first-ever top-flight crown to the tune of the King Power Stadium’s thunderous roar yesterday afternoon.
Riyad Mahrez’s opener was complemented by a Leonardo Ulloa brace and a Marc Albrighton strike as Swansea were beaten as soundly as a 4-0 scoreline suggests, moving the hosts eight points clear of Tottenham ahead of the second-placed side’s clash with West Brom this evening.
Anything but a home victory at White Hart Lane tonight could see the Foxes clinch the title at Manchester United next weekend, wrapping up one of the most remarkable triumphs in sporting history.
“It was fantastic,” said Ranieri, whose side were missing the services of suspended talisman Jamie Vardy. “Without Jamie everyone makes something more and it was fantastic to see my players fight and play together. I asked for this kind of performance – ‘be hungry, be solid, press a lot’.
“We know it will be tough. Tottenham is a very good team but we want to fight to the end.”
“History makes us who we are” read a banner held aloft before kick-off by the home fans, whose early nerves were audible. But that palpable tension soon turned to unbridled joy as Swansea captain Ashley Williams’ attempt at a first-time pass hit Mahrez. It was a gift for the Algerian, who cut inside after his momentum had taken him into the box and showed impressive composure to send a left-footed strike inside the near post.
Referee Mark Clattenburg was unmoved by any suggestions of handball in the build-up to the tenth-minute opener, and 20 minutes later it was 2-0.
Wayne Routledge’s foul on Wes Morgan led to a free-kick on the left flank, which Danny Drinkwater curled in for Ulloa to superbly head home having got the better of Williams.
“Are you watching, Tottenham?” echoed around the ground, and Spurs fans probably switched off on 60 minutes when Leicester scored a third.
Jeffrey Schlupp’s pace and power allowed him to beat Federico Fernandez to the ball down the left. Williams denied his attempted pass to Ulloa but he reacted quickly to prod forwards, with the striker stretching to turn home at the far post.
City’s three subs combined for the fourth. Demarai Gray’s fine work down the right ended with a cushioned Andy King header that fell kindly for Gray. Lukasz Fabianski kept out his strike but Albrighton was there to slam home.