Jamie Vardy scored after 21 seconds to set Leicester City up for a victory at Southampton that sent them back to the top of the Championship.

In a stunning display of prowess, Jamie Vardy’s lightning-fast goal after a mere 21 seconds set the stage for Leicester City’s triumphant return to the top of the Championship as they overcame Southampton. The former England striker orchestrated a brilliant play with Stephy Mavididi, showcasing his composure with a cool side-foot finish that left St Mary’s Stadium in awe and gave the Foxes the perfect opening.

Just 18 minutes later, Kasey McAteer capitalized on a sublime through ball from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to extend Leicester’s lead to two. Despite a defensive lapse that gifted Southampton’s Sam Edozie a goal, Leicester further asserted their dominance in the first half with Wilfred Ndidi netting their third goal during injury time.

Stephy Mavididi, in an exceptional solo effort, added a fourth goal to Leicester’s tally, further compounding Southampton’s misery. Notably, this victory came against a Southampton side that had beaten the Foxes twice in the previous Premier League season, a campaign that ultimately saw both teams relegated.

The dismal evening for Southampton concluded with Kamaldeen Sulemana receiving a straight red card for a clumsy tackle on James Justin in the dying moments of the match.

Ahead of the match, Southampton manager Russell Martin had reflected on their “painful” 5-0 loss to Sunderland during the international break and saw the Leicester encounter as an opportunity to “get back on track.” However, by halftime, the home fans were voicing their frustration as their team trailed 3-1 to a resurgent Leicester side. It’s worth noting that Leicester had not won at St Mary’s since suffering a 9-0 defeat in the Premier League almost four years ago.

Two of Leicester’s three changes from their previous fixture against Hull involved their forward line, with the experienced Jamie Vardy and Stephy Mavididi forming a potent duo. Their immediate synergy punished Southampton’s sloppy passing from the back, with Vardy providing the assist for Mavididi, who then set up Vardy for the opening goal.

Despite some valiant efforts from Southampton’s Che Adams, including a curling shot that was denied by Mads Hermansen, and an attempt that followed Harry Winks losing possession near the penalty area, it was the home side’s defensive errors that continued to haunt them. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall threaded a precise pass for Kasey McAteer, who capitalized on Southampton’s relinquishment of possession to score Leicester’s second.

In response, Southampton briefly rallied, with Adams capitalizing on a defensive mistake to set up Sam Edozie for a delicate chip over the onrushing Hermansen. However, the night belonged to Leicester as Mavididi’s composed play set up Ndidi for the third goal, while Mavididi himself redeemed a missed opportunity with a remarkable solo goal.

Despite some late attempts by Adam Armstrong and Ryan Fraser, Southampton struggled to threaten the visitors once Leicester took a commanding 4-1 lead. The defeat was further compounded by Kamaldeen Sulemana’s suspension following his late red card.

Leicester City manager Enzo Maresca expressed his delight, emphasizing the importance of the win and praising his team’s outstanding performance. He highlighted their proficiency both on and off the ball, showcasing their ability to assert themselves against a possession-oriented opponent.

In contrast, Southampton boss Russell Martin acknowledged his team’s poor start but refrained from blaming the players, expressing pride in their effort. He recognized the challenges they faced in their pursuit of improvement and vowed to address defensive vulnerabilities for a more balanced performance in the future.

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