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Leicester 4-2 Watford: Jamie Vardy scores two on Claudio Ranieri's return to the King Power Stadium

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport at the King Power Stadium
Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy scored 24 goals in 2015-16 as Leicester, under Claudio Ranieri, won the Premier League title

Jamie Vardy scored twice as Leicester beat Watford in a hugely entertaining match to ruin Claudio Ranieri's return to the King Power Stadium.

Ranieri was in the opponents' dugout for the first time since guiding the Foxes to the 2015-16 Premier League title and received a great reception from the home fans.

But in a chaotic and thrilling game played in blizzard conditions, his current side played a big part in their own downfall.

There looked to be no danger when Jonny Evans launched a free-kick forward, but William Ekong ducked under the ball and that allowed James Maddison to fire the 16th-minute opener past Daniel Bachmann.

Watford were gifted a chance to equalise in the 30th minute when Wilfred Ndidi clumsily chopped down Emmanuel Dennis and Joshua King fired his penalty into the top corner.

But the hosts retook the lead four minutes later as Vardy produced a fine lifted finish following Maddison's pass and the pair combined again just before half-time with Vardy glancing in a header from Maddison's corner.

Dennis then dispossessed Timothy Castagne and calmly finished to make it 3-2 in the 61st minute, but the hosts quickly restored their two-goal advantage after Harvey Barnes set up Ademola Lookman for a close-range tap-in.

The victory takes Leicester up from 13th into 10th, while Watford remain 16th, four points above the relegation zone.

Watford's defensive frailties on display in tough conditions

Leicester's win was only their fifth of the season from 13 Premier League matches. Manager Brendan Rodgers will have been delighted with his side's effort in tough, sometimes farcical conditions, in their second game in four days after a 3-1 win over Legia Warsaw on Thursday.

The match began on a clear afternoon, but after 20 minutes the snow came and did not stop for the rest of the encounter.

Burnley's home clash with Tottenham was postponed earlier on Sunday because of heavy snow at Turf Moor and in the second half at Leicester, the game was paused as ground staff used brooms to clear the snow just to see the lines of the penalty area.

That left seven minutes of injury time, but the game was able to be completed, although Vardy later claimed Bachmann was "trying to get it called off with the ref".

Leicester 4-2 Watford: 'Leicester were more determined than Watford' - Claudio Ranieri

"You have to stay professional and we did that. Pitches have undersoil heating and we weren't worried," added Vardy.

Asked if he feared the game would get called off, Rodgers said: "I was hoping not. The last game I was involved in like that was Swansea away at Ipswich, at Portman Road.

"But the ground staff cleared the areas the referee wanted and the ball was moving fine. The snow lightened off and we were able to see the game through."

Watford had beaten Manchester United 4-1 last time out - a result that cost United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job. But they looked fragile in defence throughout against the Foxes. Vardy nearly had a first-half hat-trick, but was denied by the legs of Bachmann.

Ranieri has now had six games in charge of Watford and lost four of them. His side have not had a clean sheet all season and need to dramatically improve at the back and do so quickly.

European champions Chelsea visit Vicarage Road on Wednesday and reigning Premier League title holders Manchester City follow on Saturday.

If Watford defend like they did at the King Power Stadium, they could well be on the end of two thrashings.

Reaction to Ranieri 'warms your heart', says Rodgers

Leicester 4-2 Watford: Brendan Rodgers pleased with 'thoroughly deserved' win over Watford

It will have been an afternoon of mixed emotions for Ranieri as Leicester fans sang songs praising him throughout the match - a tribute to the club's achievements five years ago when they won the league after being written off as 5,000-1 no-hopers at the start of the campaign.

"The reception was fantastic," said the 70-year-old Italian. "I want to say thank you to all the Leicester fans, but also the Watford fans as well. They came here on this difficult day and I hope they're proud of us.

"We fought until the end and tried to do our best. It was Christmas Day conditions but that's OK. We lost because we made mistakes."

On the reaction Ranieri received, Rodgers added: "It was brilliant. Big applause to our supporters. It warms your heart when you see that reaction and I'm delighted for him.

"The Leicester City fans gave him a deserving, great ovation."

Player of the match

VardyJamie Vardy

with an average of 8.08

Leicester City

  1. Squad number9Player nameVardy
    Average rating

    8.08

  2. Squad number10Player nameMaddison
    Average rating

    7.93

  3. Squad number7Player nameBarnes
    Average rating

    7.39

  4. Squad number11Player nameAlbrighton
    Average rating

    7.18

  5. Squad number37Player nameLookman
    Average rating

    7.16

  6. Squad number22Player nameDewsbury-Hall
    Average rating

    7.13

  7. Squad number6Player nameEvans
    Average rating

    6.98

  8. Squad number25Player nameNdidi
    Average rating

    6.86

  9. Squad number33Player nameThomas
    Average rating

    6.80

  10. Squad number4Player nameSöyüncü
    Average rating

    6.74

  11. Squad number27Player nameCastagne
    Average rating

    6.72

  12. Squad number42Player nameSoumaré
    Average rating

    6.54

  13. Squad number1Player nameSchmeichel
    Average rating

    6.51

Watford

  1. Squad number25Player nameDennis
    Average rating

    7.04

  2. Squad number7Player nameKing
    Average rating

    6.85

  3. Squad number19Player nameSissoko
    Average rating

    6.18

  4. Squad number10Player nameJoão Pedro
    Average rating

    6.00

  5. Squad number8Player nameCleverley
    Average rating

    5.88

  6. Squad number29Player nameCucho Hernández
    Average rating

    5.65

  7. Squad number17Player nameFletcher
    Average rating

    5.59

  8. Squad number6Player nameLouza
    Average rating

    5.58

  9. Squad number15Player nameCathcart
    Average rating

    5.46

  10. Squad number18Player nameTufan
    Average rating

    5.41

  11. Squad number21Player nameKiko Femenía
    Average rating

    5.33

  12. Squad number11Player nameMasina
    Average rating

    5.25

  13. Squad number5Player nameTroost-Ekong
    Average rating

    4.89

  14. Squad number26Player nameBachmann
    Average rating

    4.44

Line-ups

Leicester

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Schmeichel
  • 27Castagne
  • 6Evans
  • 4Söyüncü
  • 33Thomas
  • 42Soumaré
  • 25Ndidi
  • 37LookmanSubstituted forAlbrightonat 75'minutes
  • 10MaddisonSubstituted forDewsbury-Hallat 88'minutes
  • 7Barnes
  • 9Vardy

Substitutes

  • 11Albrighton
  • 12Ward
  • 14Iheanacho
  • 17Pérez
  • 18Amartey
  • 20Choudhury
  • 22Dewsbury-Hall
  • 23Vestergaard
  • 29Daka

Watford

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 26Bachmann
  • 21Femenía
  • 15Cathcart
  • 5Troost-Ekong
  • 11Masina
  • 6LouzaSubstituted forJoão Pedroat 45'minutes
  • 29Hernández
  • 8CleverleySubstituted forTufanat 45'minutes
  • 19Sissoko
  • 7King
  • 25DennisSubstituted forFletcherat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Ngakia
  • 3Rose
  • 10João Pedro
  • 16Gosling
  • 17Fletcher
  • 18Tufan
  • 27Kabasele
  • 35Elliot
  • 42Morris
Referee:
Andy Madley
Attendance:
32,020

Match Stats

Home TeamLeicesterAway TeamWatford
Possession
Home57%
Away43%
Shots
Home18
Away17
Shots on Target
Home8
Away5
Corners
Home8
Away6
Fouls
Home5
Away20

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Leicester City 4, Watford 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Leicester City 4, Watford 2.

  3. Post update

    Hand ball by Ashley Fletcher (Watford).

  4. Post update

    Marc Albrighton (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Joshua King (Watford).

  6. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by Luke Thomas.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Watford. Conceded by Wilfred Ndidi.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Daniel Bachmann.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Çaglar Söyüncü.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Leicester City. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall replaces James Maddison.

  11. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Adam Masina.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ozan Tufan (Watford) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Kiko Femenía with a cross.

  14. Post update

    Boubakary Soumaré (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Ozan Tufan (Watford).

  16. Post update

    Boubakary Soumaré (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Adam Masina (Watford).

  18. Post update

    Offside, Leicester City. Timothy Castagne tries a through ball, but Jamie Vardy is caught offside.

  19. Post update

    Marc Albrighton (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Adam Masina (Watford).

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