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Leicester's winning run continues

Published 09/05/2015

Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Leicester took another step towards survival
Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Leicester took another step towards survival

Leicester continued their march towards Barclays Premier League survival against Southampton at the King Power Stadium.

Riyad Mahrez enhanced his growing reputation by scoring both goals as Nigel Pearson, this week named manager of the month for April, celebrated a sixth victory in seven matches.

The Foxes thoroughly deserved their 2-0 success but Southampton, who have entertained for much of the season and earned plaudits for mounting a challenge for the European places, disappointed.

A fourth straight away loss looks to have finally ended their hopes of catching Liverpool in fifth spot.

For Leicester, the win is the latest in what has been a remarkable turnaround in fortune.

A month ago they looked dead and buried and set for a return to the Sky Bet Championship after a eight-game winless run which included six defeats.

Now, Pearson's side sit three places and three points above the drop zone and can clinch their place in the top flight for another season with victory at relegation rivals Sunderland next Saturday - should other results also go their way.

The only down side for Leicester was what looked like a serious-looking injury sustained by midfielder Matty James.

Sunderland ramped up the pressure on the other teams fighting to stay up with a surprise 2-0 success against Everton at Goodison Park in the day's early kick-off.

If Leicester felt nervous, it did not show.

They began confidently and Robert Huth flicked a header just over the crossbar in the second minute.

Five minutes later some Mahrez magic put Pearson's team in front.

The French-born Algeria international collected a flick-on by Leonardo Ulloa, turned away from both Steven Davis and Harrison Reed and fired a left-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net from just outside the penalty area.

However, the mood soon changed inside the King Power Stadium when James went down holding his left knee.

The midfielder was treated on the pitch before being carried off with his legs strapped. He was replaced by Danny Drinkwater.

The break in play did not affect Leicester and they continued to push forward, with the second goal coming after 19 minutes.

Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga sliced a clearance, putting his team under pressure.

Ulloa and Jamie Vardy worked well together to win back the ball with Vardy managing to get a cross into the box where the unmarked Mahrez poked home from close range.

It was a fourth Premier League goal of the season for the winger signed from French Ligue 2 club Le Havre for just £400,000 in January 2014.

Mahrez, who according to his agent Kamal Bengougam is of interest to La Liga side Villarreal, almost caught Saints out again shortly afterwards.

His perfectly-weighted through ball found the run of Vardy but Gazzaniga kept out the shot with his legs.

Southampton's first meaningful effort on Kasper Schmeichel's goal came in first-half injury time but the Foxes keeper comfortably helped Toby Alderweireld's free-kick over the crossbar.

Mahrez maintained his torment of Ronald Koeman's men in the second half, evading a couple of defenders before dragging his shot wide.

At the other end, Sadio Mane worked Schmeichel again but once more the Dane easily pushed the ball over.

News of a Burnley goal at Hull was greeted with a chorus of "we are staying up" from Leicester fans, and it looks like they might be right.

It ended 1-0 at the KC Stadium and the Foxes are three points above the Tigers, who now occupy the final relegation place.

Esteban Cambiasso sent a left-foot shot into the side-netting midway through the second half in the game's final piece of noteworthy action.

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