Leicester City showed no fear without Jamie Vardy as they beat Swansea City 4-0 at the King Power.
Playmaker Riyad Mahrez – a contender for Sunday evening’s PFA Player of the Season award – intercepted a poor pass early in the first half, shimmying past his marker before finishing low at the near post.
Leonardo Ulloa – starting in the absence of suspended forward Vardy – doubled the Foxes’ lead after half an hour with a well-placed header that gave Lukasz Fabianski no chance.
Claudio Ranieri’s men showed togetherness and unbelievable team spirit and they capitalised on poor defending to add a third. A long ball by Kasper Schmeichel was met by Jeffrey Schlupp, who raced free. With Leicester two-on-one, the Dutch wideman squared the ball across to Ulloa, who fired into an open goal at the far post with half an hour left on the clock.
N’Golo Kante and Andy King had good chances to add a fourth, before Marc Albrighton fired home late on. The hosts comfortably saw out the victory which sees the East Midlands club move eight points clear of Tottenham, who play West Brom on Monday.
Anything but a home victory at White Hart Lane could see the Foxes clinch the title at Manchester United next weekend, wrapping up one of the most remarkable triumphs in sporting history – never mind football.
Ranieri finally broke his silence on title talk ahead of a match that got off to a dream start, Mahrez blocking a poor Ashley Williams pass and showing wonderful composure to fire home.
“History makes us who we are” read a banner held aloft by the home fans, whose early nerves were audible after Spurs’ dominant win against Stoke and Leicester’s rare slip-up against West Ham.
Palpable tension soon turned to unbridled joy, though, as Swansea captain Williams’ attempt at a first-time pass hit Mahrez. It was a gift for the Algerian, who cut inside after his momentum had taken into the box and showed impressive composure to send a left-footed strike inside the near post.
Schlupp, one of two Leicester changes, was proving a particular nuisance down the flank as Leicester tried to stave off a comeback, with an acrobatic Christian Fuchs attempt comfortably saved before Shinji Okazaki’s strike was deflected wide.
Ranieri’s men would not have to wait long to increase their lead as Wayne Routledge’s foul on Wes Morgan led to a free-kick on the left flank, which Drinkwater curled in for Ulloa to superbly head home having got the better of Williams.
“Are you watching, Tottenham?” echoed around the King Power Stadium but Swansea tried to peg back the hosts, with Fernandez again heading over before ex-Tottenham midfielder Sigurdsson tested Kasper Schmeichel from distance.
Leicester were far more ruthless and grabbed a third in the 60th minute thanks to Schlupp’s pace and power, allowing him to beat 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.
Fabianski produced a great stop to deny Andy King, on after Ulloa sustained a late knock, before City’s three substitutes combined for the fourth.
Demarai Gray’s fine work down the right ended with a cushioned King header that fell kindly for the January signing. Fabianski kept out his strike impressively but Albrighton was there to slam home.
In Sunday’s other Premier League game: Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal: Black Cats move out of the Premier League relegation zone