Vardy leads charge as Leicester rout Southampton in battle of fallen giants

Jamie Vardy grabbed his first Championship goal of the season as Leicester climbed to the top of the table with a 4-1 thrashing of Southampton.

Vardy needed just 21 seconds to open the scoring before Kasey McAteer, Wilfred Ndidi and Stephy Mavididi made it a dominant display for the visitors despite Sam Edozie’s goal.

Leicester and Southampton were the Championship’s favourites for promotion after their Premier League relegation last season. Both had started with four matches unbeaten – including four wins for the Foxes – before suffering shock defeats before the international break.

As stunned as Southampton were at losing 5-0 to Sunderland, it was doubled by being behind inside a minute. Vardy, the former England striker, made his first start since the opening day of the campaign and pounced in trademark style after Mavididi had got in behind and pulled back.

Saints were lucky not to concede when Taylor Harwood-Bellis gave away the ball in his own area, but it was no surprise when Will Smallbone and Kyle Walker-Peters lost concentration and handed the ball over to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. The midfielder fed McAteer who controlled and finished past Gavin Bazunu.

Che Adams had teed up Edozie only for the winger to air kick before forcing Mads Hermansen, the Leicester goalkeeper, into a fine diving save. The frontman then caught Callum Doyle dithering in midfield and threaded a through ball to Edozie, who calmly clipped in his second professional goal.

Wilfred Ndidi (centre) is congratulated by his teammates after making it 3-1 to Leicester
Wilfred Ndidi (centre) is congratulated by his teammates after making it 3-1 to Leicester. Photograph: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC/Getty Images

The away side desperately pushed to regain their two-goal advantage. Ndidi had a shot pushed behind by Bazunu, before the Irishman twice denied Mavididi’s weak efforts. Mavididi turned provider as he used his strength to turn a defender and then his vision to pick out Ndidi, who prodded in his first league goal since January 2021.

Southampton improved after being booed off at half-time, but had to wait until the 60th minute for another gilt-edged chance. Adam Armstrong, their top scorer, almost hit the back row of the stand from seven yards.

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At the other end, Mavididi got clean through but fired off target. He did not miss next time, the summer signing from Montpellier leading a three-versus-one break, rounding Smallbone and rolling past Bazunu. It was the former Arsenal youngster’s second goal for his new side.

St Mary’s began to empty for the last half an hour, with the home fans missing more misplaced passes, jeers from the travelling fans and Kamaldeen Sulemana being dismissed. The winger was shown a straight red card for jumping in on James Justin deep into stoppage time.