Anthony Knockaert scored an extraordinary double as City made it four npower Championship wins in a row with victory at Huddersfield Town.
The France Under-21 international struck a contender for goal of the season in each half to help the Foxes up to second in the table, as Nigel Pearson’s side braved bitter west Yorkshire conditions to continue their impressive recent run.
A threat to Simon Grayson’s hosts throughout a game Leicester totally controlled, Knockaert opened the scoring with a thunderous drive on the half-hour, speared out of the reach of Terriers ‘keeper Alex Smithies from fully 30 yards.
And as the visitors turned the screw in the second period, the 20-year-old Frenchman produced an outrageous scorpion-style finish to a Paul Konchesky cross to stun the John Smith’s Stadium.
Knockaert’s goals were the spearhead of an excellent performance from Pearson’s men, whose confidence grows with every game that passes in this excellent sequence. Robust in defence, energetic throughout a midfield controlled by the outstanding Danny Drinkwater, and sharp in attack, they are a side bang in form. Very much the real deal.
Pearson rewarded Lloyd Dyer and Andy King for their roles in a stirring comeback at Middlesbrough with places in his starting eleven, as the Foxes took an aggressive approach in the west Yorkshire wind and rain.
They instantly looked the more comfortable side in difficult conditions, passing the ball with slick precision through midfield and mixing it up with high balls that caused havoc in the Town defence.
Knockaert looked his usual waspish self and after being presented with the ball by Huddersfield’s Danny Ward on the right touchline on 14 minutes, swiftly set up David Nugent for a low drive that squirted wide.
The young Frenchman was involved again four minutes later, teeing up Jamie Vardy for an 18-yard shot that Smithies awkwardly bundled away. What the Terriers ‘keeper would have given to get an awkward hand to Knockaert’s jaw-dropping contribution on the half-hour.
It was perhaps surprising that it took anyone as long to test either goalkeeper with such an effort in such a swirling wind, but Smithies would have done well to get near it on the stillest of summer days. Struck with venom and dip from 30 yards, Knockaert’s left-foot shot arrowed awesomely past him and into the top corner.
A goal to take the breath away. Perhaps City were still admiring it when Ward crossed from the left a minute later and Lee Novak miscued wastefully at the far post.
But Huddersfield remained troubled defensively and Kasper Schmeichel knew it – City’s Danish ‘keeper peppering them with impossibly high balls. Centre-backs Peter Clarke and Antony Gerrard both went for one of them on 40 minutes, allowing Vardy to set up for King, whose shot deflected just wide.
The interval brought little immediate change in the flow of the game and City should have been two up within six minutes of the restart.
With Huddersfield on the attack, the Foxes broke with devastating pace down the left, Nugent feeding Dyer. Knockaert reeled in the low cross, saw his shot blocked by Gerrard and Vardy slammed the rebound behind.
It was a gilt-edged chance for the City striker; nothing like the one Knockaert impossibly doubled the lead from on the hour-mark.
Again the break came down the left, this time Konchesky providing the width, but when the cross came in, it appeared to be behind the Frenchman as he charged into the goalmouth.
No matter. An arch of the back, a flick of the heel, Smithies was totally wrong-footed and could only push the ball into the roof of the net. An outrageous piece of finishing.
Serenaded by the adoring City faithful behind that goal, the grin spanned every inch of Knockaert’s Gallic features. Cautioned for a reckless challenge on Paul Dixon just moments before, this was the beautiful side of his game.
It nearly got better on 68 minutes – Nugent dribbling round some poor defensive challenges before hammering his shot wide of the near post. At the other end, Huddersfield attacks broke down in the face of brutal resistance in black shirts – Wes Morgan and Sean St. Ledger masterful in defence.
The middle of the park belonged to Drinkwater, bossing the game on an old stomping ground against a former club. With King in industrious mood alongside him, the City playmaker was free to call the tune.
Huddersfield looked a beaten side and were nearly put out of their misery in the final minute, but Smithies saved well from Nugent as he looked to convert sub Martyn Waghorn’s left-wing cross.
Bristol City visit King Power Stadium on Saturday, looking to be the first side to escape with a point. With City in this mood, the Robins will have a serious job on their hands.
Huddersfield (4-3-3): Smithies; Hunt, Clarke (c), Gerrard, Dixon (Woods 64); Clayton (Lee 63), Southern, Norwood (Arfield 64); Ward, Novak, Scannell.
Unused subs: Bennett, Wallace, Robinson, Spencer.
City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Moore, Morgan (c), St. Ledger, Konchesky; Knockaert (Marshall 90+1), King, Drinkwater, Dyer (Schlupp 77); Nugent, Vardy (Waghorn 80).
Unused subs: Whitbread, Logan, James, Futacs.
Goals: Knockaert 30, 60
Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)Referee: