Belfast Telegraph

Jamie Vardy eases Leicester's relegation fears

Jamie Vardy continued his red-hot run in front of goal as Leicester eased their Premier League relegation fears with a 1-0 win at West Brom.

Vardy made no mistake two minutes before half-time as Leicester won away from home in the top-flight for only the second time this season.

His strike was his 17th of the season, his third in the last four games and his eighth in 12 matches under the control of manager Craig Shakespeare. It was also the third successive game that he had scored at The Hawthorns.

While Vardy has hit form at just the right time, Albion have hit a losing habit and a goal drought.

Tony Pulis's team have lost their last four games - and failed to score in their last five. They have won only once in eight games as they limp towards the end of the season.

Pulis made a surprise change to his side when he left captain Darren Fletcher out of the starting line-up in the Premier League for the first time since his arrival from Manchester United in 2015 - ending a run of 86 successive top-flight starts for the Scottish midfielder. His former United team-mate Jonny Evans took over as skipper with Fletcher on the bench.

Leicester were again without central defender Wes Morgan after he failed to shake off a hamstring problem that had also forced him to miss the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal.

After a frantic opening spell, when Leicester's Danny Drinkwater was booked for a rash lunge on Nacer Chadli in the 16th minute, Albion were denied the breakthrough by the heroics of Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Evans lifted a long cross into the Leicester area after 18 minutes and Chris Brunt met it with an angled header that Schmeichel spectacularly tipped over the bar with his right hand.

The feisty feel to the game continued when Albion midfielder Claudio Yacob, who had earlier sent Vardy tumbling, was booked for his 22nd minute challenge on Shinji Okazaki.

In a game where clear chances had been at a premium it was perhaps no surprise that when the deadlock was broken it was down to a mistake.

Albion striker Salomon Rondon played the ball back towards his own goal but he had not spotted the lurking Okazaki.

Okazaki collected Rondon's back pass and fed a pass into the path of Vardy who clinically lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Rondon did his best to try and make amends for his error, flashing a header narrowly wide on the stroke of half-time before Schmeichel got down low to smother his shot three minutes into the second period.

Craig Dawson then saw his close range header deflected over the Leicester bar by his own team-mate, Gareth McAuley, before Leicester could have made the game safe only for Riyad Mahrez to flash his close range shot into the side netting after 61 minutes.

Mahrez then curled another shot wide 10 minutes from time after Fletcher, who had been introduced in the 69th minute, lost possession to Vardy.

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