James Maddison and Jamie Vardy came off the bench to deliver Leicester’s first Premier League win of 2022 as late goals beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor.
Vardy, back from a hamstring injury, set up the first as he laid the ball off for Maddison to bend the ball beyond the excellent Nick Pope.
And Vardy got his first goal in the league since November in the final minute, left alone at the far post to head home Harvey Barnes’ cross.
It was no coincidence that this was Leicester’s first league win since Vardy’s last appearance, the 1-0 victory over Liverpool on December 28 – this has not been a good season by the Foxes’ recent standards but a win rate of 40 per cent when Vardy starts drops to 12.5 per cent without him.
The positives did not end there – a first-half Maxwel Cornet strike for Burnley was ruled out for offside, and with Kasper Schmeichel barely tested otherwise, this was a first clean sheet away from home in the league this season.
While Brendan Rodgers could start looking up again, Burnley missed the chance to move out of the bottom three as the recent momentum which had seen them pick up seven points from three was halted. With Chelsea the visitors here on Saturday, things get no easier for Sean Dyche’s side.
Leicester might have had the win wrapped up much earlier but for a superb display by Pope.
Early on he got down smartly to his left to keep out Ricardo Pereira’s shot as it was fired through a crowd of players then, after a miscommunication with James Tarkowski allowed Patson Daka a clear sight of goal from a tight angle, Pope stuck out a foot to divert the ball to safety.
Cornet, back in the Burnley side after an ankle injury, then arrived to turn home Aaron Lennon’s cross, but the Ivorian had strayed a foot offside.
Burnley then suffered a major blow as captain Ben Mee, struggling since an early crunching challenge to stop Daka’s progress, sat down for the final time before being replaced by Nathan Collins.
Collins was straight into the action as Barnes burst forward down the left again, skipping around the Burnley defender before forcing another reaction save from Pope, who stuck out his right hand to turn the ball over the bar.
Schmeichel was finally forced into his first save in the 49th minute. Ashley Westwood’s sweeping pass put Connor Roberts in space on the right and the Wales defender took the shot on as Schmeichel shovelled it to safety.
The game got increasingly scrappy as Chris Kavanagh – fresh from attracting Frank Lampard’s ire for not penalising Rodrigo’s handball at Everton on Saturday – allowed a number of challenges to go unpunished.
With 18 minutes to go, Rodgers sent for Vardy and Maddison, and the pair linked up immediately, with Vardy blazing over from Maddison’s cross.
Barnes brought another fine save from Pope as he cut in from the left and tried to bend it in, but Leicester’s moment was coming.
Schmeichel came off his line to beat Rodriguez to the ball, hoofing it straight down to the other end.
Three Leicester players were offside but Vardy was not as he controlled the high ball, then laid it off for Maddison to bend a left-footed shot beyond the reach of Pope.
Burnley should have levelled immediately. Westwood’s corner was flicked on by Collins towards Wout Weghorst, who slid in at the back post but could not get his shot on target.
Instead, Vardy had the final word to get Leicester back to winning ways.
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