Leicester City climbed to second in the Premier League as they won a keenly contested encounter with fellow top-four hopefuls Southampton at King Power Stadium.
James Maddison fired in from a tight angle after 37 minutes, the Foxes midfielder instructing his team-mates to stand back as he performed a socially distanced celebration, before Harvey Barnes added a second deep into second-half stoppage-time.
Victory takes Leicester within one point of leaders Manchester United, who travel to third-placed Liverpool on Sunday, while Southampton are eighth, three points outside the top four.
The Saints dominated in the opening stages and created the first opening when Che Adams stretched the home defence on the counter-attack, while Leicester’s Barnes’ powerful drive forced Alex McCarthy into action with the game’s first shot after 19 minutes.
The visitors, without talisman Danny Ings after the striker tested positive for Covid-19 last week, went close to a response through Ryan Bertrand and Will Smallbone either side of half-time but neither could find a way past Kasper Schmeichel.
In an entertaining conclusion, Stuart Armstrong rattled the Leicester crossbar with an excellent strike from the edge of the penalty area, while Jan Bednarek produced a superb goalline clearance to deny Barnes and the returning McCarthy saved from Jamie Vardy as both sides pushed for a late goal.
It took Leicester until the 95th minute to seal the three points, Barnes calmly slotting past McCarthy on the break.
Foxes maintain pressure at top
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers challenged his side to “disrupt the Premier League hierarchy” after a 2-1 win over Newcastle in their last league outing maintained their top-four hopes.
Victory in this stern test ensured they continue to do just that.
Enjoying their longest unbeaten run of the season, their streak now at six matches in all competitions since defeat by Everton a month ago, Rodgers’ side delivered an assured performance to remain firmly in contention at the top.
Despite their lofty position as the halfway stage approaches, Leicester have struggled at home this campaign - their four defeats in eight at King Power Stadium in 2020-21 is as many as they suffered in the entirety of last season.
Though largely frustrated in the early exchanges as the visitors retained possession, Leicester’s superior quality in attack eventually ensured that record was improved with Maddison turning sharply to meet Youri Tielemans’ through-ball before drilling home.
The in-form Barnes once again impressed and eventually got the goal his performance deserved to equal his best season tally of 10 after just 24 games.
Unlike last season’s post-Christmas collapse, the Foxes are yet to show signs of falling away. Maddison - involved in six of Leicester’s last 12 league goals - and Barnes are easing the pressure on Vardy to deliver every week and there appears the strength in depth to better maintain this challenge.
The only concern for Rodgers at the end of a pleasing night was the sight of Vardy appearing to limp off as he was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho in the final minutes.
More to follow.
- 3FofanaBooked at 15minsSubstituted forSöyüncüat 53′minutes
- 11AlbrightonBooked at 45mins
- 10MaddisonSubstituted forPérezat 77′minutes
- 9VardySubstituted forIheanachoat 90+1′minutes
- 21Ricardo Pereira
- 3BertrandBooked at 59mins
- 27DialloBooked at 44minsSubstituted forValeryat 87′minutes
- 20SmallboneSubstituted forN’Lunduluat 61′minutes
- 10AdamsSubstituted forLongat 72′minutes
- Stuart Attwell
Match ends, Leicester City 2, Southampton 0.
Second Half ends, Leicester City 2, Southampton 0.
Goal! Leicester City 2, Southampton 0. Harvey Barnes (Leicester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Youri Tielemans following a fast break.
Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Çaglar Söyüncü.
Shane Long (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Marc Albrighton (Leicester City).
Substitution, Leicester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Jamie Vardy.
Offside, Leicester City. Marc Albrighton tries a through ball, but Ayoze Pérez is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Marc Albrighton.
Substitution, Southampton. Yan Valery replaces Ibrahima Diallo.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Alex McCarthy.
Attempt saved. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by James Justin.
Attempt missed. Daniel N’Lundulu (Southampton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kyle Walker-Peters with a cross.
Offside, Leicester City. Timothy Castagne tries a through ball, but Ayoze Pérez is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ayoze Pérez with a cross.
Foul by James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).
Marc Albrighton (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Stuart Armstrong.
Substitution, Leicester City. Ayoze Pérez replaces James Maddison.