Vardy helps champs Leicester clinch first win
Jamie Vardy scored his first goal of the season as Leicester energised their Premier League title defence with a 2-1 win against Swansea in a torrential thunderstorm on Saturday.
Vardy’s 32nd-minute strike gave Claudio Ranieri’s side a deserved half-time lead and captain Wes Morgan added the Foxes’ second goal on 52 minutes at the King Power Stadium.
Leroy Fer scored for Swansea with nine minutes remaining but Leicester stood firm for their first win of the season despite Foxes winger Riyad Mahrez having a penalty saved at 2-0.
It was the Algerian’s third failure in his last four Premier League penalties but it did not cost his side.
After defeat at Hull on the opening day of the season and a draw with Arsenal last week, this was the perfect way for Leicester to head into the international break.
Leicester built up a head of steam in the early exchanges and they won a free-kick just outside the Swansea area when Federico Fernandez chopped down Jamie Vardy on his way to goal.
Mahrez struck a shot with his left foot but it crept just past Lukasz Fabianski’s left-hand post.
The momentum was maintained when Vardy used pace and strength to get past Kyle Naughton and to the byline, but the striker’s touch let him down and he conceded a goal-kick with two frustrated team-mates waiting for a cross.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had a long-range shot saved by Kasper Schmeichel in the Swansea goal before Vardy made up for his earlier frustration with the opening goal.
He raced onto a first-time, volleyed pass from Danny Drinkwater and outmuscled Jordi Amat before blasting home a shot off Fabianski’s left-hand post.
– Crucial clearance –
Sigurdsson tried his luck again from distance moments later but this time his effort cleared the crossbar.
Swansea enjoyed a better spell as half-time approached and a right-wing cross from Modou Barrow, which was flicked towards goal by Wayne Routledge, brought a crucial clearance from Morgan inside his six-yard box.
But just before half-time Leicester could have doubled their lead when Shinji Okazaki let fly with a right-footed shot that brought a fine save from Fabianski.
Leicester should have been more than a single goal clear at half-time but they made their advantage pay just seven minutes into the second half.
Morgan and Robert Huth leapt to meet a Marc Albrighton corner and, when the ball dropped for Morgan, the defender lashed home with a powerful volley.
Swansea rallied briefly with Sigurdsson sending an effort over the crossbar before Schmeichel raced from his goal to deny the advancing Fernando Llorente.
But the hosts should have extended their lead moments later when a clumsy challenge by Amat felled Okazaki and handed them a penalty.
However, Mahrez’s spot-kick was poor and Fabianski made a smart save low to his right.
There was a further blow for the Foxes when it emerged Schmeichel had picked up an injury and the Dane had to be replaced by summer signing Ron-Robert Zieler.
The Leicester pressure was maintained, though, and two inviting crosses could have led to goals.
The first was flashed across the face of goal by Drinkwater but was missed by his team-mates and the second was bent to the far post by Albrighton but guided wide by Morgan.
Swansea gave themselves hope with nine minutes remaining when a cross by Barrow was headed into the bottom corner by Fer but it was not enough to trigger a comeback, with Mahrez curling a shot just wide for Leicester in stoppage-time.
With the pitch now close to unplayable due to the heavy rain, Leicester had a final chance when substitute Ahmed Musa raced clear but fired straight at Fabianksi.