Leicester’s three-pronged attack of Kelechi Iheanacho, Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez earned the praise of manager Brendan Rodgers after they put sorry Sheffield United to the sword at the King Power Stadium.
Iheanacho scored his first Premier League hat-trick, with two of the goals set up by Vardy, while Perez’s strike and an Ethan Ampadu own goal sealed a 5-0 success for the Foxes which saw them return to second place in the table, ahead of Manchester United’s game against West Ham later.
It was the first time Iheanacho had scored in three successive Premier League matches and his partnership with Vardy has now yielded an impressive 23 goals in as many games when they have started together in the competition.
Vardy’s two assists saw him become only the sixth player in Premier League history to register 100 goal involvements after the age of 30, following in the footsteps of Teddy Sheringham (127), Frank Lampard (118), Ian Wright (110), Alan Shearer (102) and Gianfranco Zola (101).
“I’m delighted (for Iheanacho),” said Rodgers. “I’ve said I can see improvement in him and day on day he trains so hard.
“Him up there with Jamie (Vardy) is a really good combination. It was three good finishes, he’s clever and drops into space we want him to but overall his contribution tactically and overall game was very good.
“The combination of him, Jamie and Ayo (Ayoze Perez) was outstanding today. Jamie may not have scored but he was influential for us.”
Great getting back out there doing what I love 🦊— Ayoze Perez (@AyozePG) March 14, 2021
Leicester dominated throughout against a team who could only muster one attempt at goal during the entire match.
It was only a single-goal lead at half-time, however, and Rodgers was pleased with the patience his side showed in breaking down the Blades.
“Patience was very important,” said the Northern Irishman. “With two teams playing similar systems, you know where the advantage is but it takes a little bit of time to find that.
“They have lost a number of games this season but many of them have been fairly tight so you know you are going to have to work them. We knew they were going to fight and be competitive, after the week they’ve had, because they are honest, true players.
“Some of our football and creativity and the speed of the game was very good. We created many opportunities, when you think of the chances Jamie had. We played the system well and took advantage of the space we wanted to and were very clinical.”
Sunday brought the day United fans never wanted to contemplate – the first game after the Chris Wilder era.
After almost five years of success, which saw Wilder lead Sheffield United from the stagnancy of League One to a top-half finish in the Premier League, the 53-year-old left by mutual consent the day before the game at the King Power Stadium, following a difference of opinion with the owner about the future of the club.
Under-23s coach Paul Heckingbottom stepped up to first-team duties and spoke of an “emotional” dressing room following the Blades’ uncharacteristic below-par performance.
“It was a difficult one to watch and a difficult one to be involved in. It was an emotional dressing room to be in there at the end, there was some anger and upset. It topped off an emotional week,” said Heckingbottom.
“It’s a tough time. Chris was the leader on a daily basis and shared a lot of that with many of those players in the dressing room. It was emotional.
“Leicester were ruthless but there were a lot of habits today in the players that they have not built their success on, and I think the week took its toll.
“I’m in charge until the end of the season, or until the powers that be decide otherwise, and I can’t let the players get their heads down because the next manager will see that and be watching.”
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