Shinji Okazaki

Beating Liverpool & Sitting Top Of The Tree - LCFC Christmas Crackers

As Christmas looms, LCFC.com recalls some of Leicester City’s most memorable festive victories from years gone by.

The Christmas period often draws up several exciting games and, with many fixtures often played in a short space of time between Christmas Day and the New Year, anything can happen.

Ahead of Boxing Day's visit of Newcastle United, let's remember some of our festive favourites... 

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Robbie Savage
Robbie Savage

Robbie Savage ended the 2000/01 season as the Club's Player of the Season.

Leicester City 2 West Ham United 1
Filbert Street
23 December, 2000
Premier League

Despite things eventually not going so well at Filbert Street, Peter Taylor was basking in the warm glow of a remarkable start to life as the Foxes' manager at the turn of the millennium. Sitting pretty in the Premier League standings and knowing they could make sure of a top-four place on Christmas Day, City in fact went behind early on during a home clash with West Ham United.

In the eighth minute, Rigobert Song's cross was taken down on the edge of the area by Frédéric Kanouté, who withstood a challenge from Matt Elliott, before defying Tim Flowers in Leicester's net.

Midway through the first half, though, the Foxes hit back as Andy Impey's forward ball was sent into the area by Gary Rowett, but Ade Akinbiyi was unable to finish with a wayward header. No matter, though, as Muzzy Izzet pounced on the loose ball to get the home side back on level terms. Despite the Hammers posing threats of their own, Shaka Hislop was to be beaten again later.

Stefan Oakes' long ball dumfounded everyone apart from Robbie Savage, who needed just one touch to dodge Ian Pearce and beat the 'keeper, before leaping into the Double Decker Stand in celebration.

Leicester City 2 Manchester City 1
26 December, 2018
King Power Stadium
Premier League

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Marc Albrighton & James Maddison
Marc Albrighton & James Maddison

James Maddison congratulates Marc Albrighton after the midfielder scored Leicester's equaliser on Filbert Way.

The reigning Premier League champions were in town as Leicester, then managed by Claude Puel, faced Pep Guardiola’s side, serving up a Boxing Day treat for the Foxes faithful. It started well for the visitors, who broke the deadlock when Bernardo Silva sent the ball beyond Kasper Schmeichel on 14 minutes after Sergio Agüero pounced on a defensive error.

The lead lasted just five minutes, though, as Jamie Vardy picked out Marc Albrighton in the middle to head home an equaliser in a frantic, fast-paced opening to the game.

There would be no further goals until nine minutes from time, when, as it looked more likely that the contest would end all square, summer signing Ricardo Pereira netted a stunning strike – his second for the Club – to take all three points on Filbert Way.

A late Fabian Delph red card saw Man City end with 10 men, while Leicester climbed up to seventh in the top-flight standings following their first game after Christmas.

Chelsea 0 Leicester City 1
22 December, 2018
Stamford Bridge
Premier League

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy wheels away in celebration after scoring what proved to be the winner at Stamford Bridge.

Rewinding a further four days, Leicester travelled down to the capital to take on another club with Premier League titles to their name.

Goalless at the break, the away side found a way through six minutes after the break, when James Maddison managed to thread a ball through to Jamie Vardy in the box and City’s No.9 made no mistake on his 250th Leicester appearance with a thunderous first-time finish to beat Kepa Arrizabalaga at his near post.

It was the first home goal Chelsea had conceded in 357 minutes of football, ending an impressive four-game run. The Foxes then withheld significant second-half pressure from Maurizio Sarri’s side to see the game out and record a maiden victory at Stamford Bridge since 2000, also inflicting a first home defeat of the season on the west London outfit.

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Withdean Stadium
Withdean Stadium

Far from ideal conditions awaited the Foxes in Brighton, but the visitors nonetheless departed with three points.

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Leicester City 1
Withdean Stadium
20 December, 2002
First Division

On the back of relegation in the Club's final campaign at Filbert Street, where they had spent 111 years, the Foxes were bidding to earn promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt in 2002/03. Turgid weather conditions awaited in Brighton, through, as City tried to close the gap to Harry Redknapp's First Division leaders Portsmouth with a trip to Withdean Stadium on 20 December, 2002.

In the first half, James Scowcroft fed Paul Dickov, who went for goal, but the Scot's effort came back off the post. There was Brian Deane, though, to convert and seemingly give Leicester a lead.

Despite protests from the unsheltered travelling Blue Army, referee Tony Bates was unmoved. City would have to go again if they were to keep hold of second place, with Sheffield United looming behind them.

With just 18 minutes of a tense clash remaining, however, as a gloomy fog descended across the entire pitch on the South Coast, Micky Adams' promotion hopefuls got a slice of good fortune.

It came from an Alan Rogers free-kick, which all Seagulls players must have assumed would have been taken by Muzzy Izzet, but it was nonetheless sent into a hazardous penalty area with little visibility. Up rose Deane to score one of his 13 goals for the Foxes that term to give the Foxes faithful some festive hope that their absence from the top flight would last only the one season.

Everton 2 Leicester City 3
19 December, 2015
Goodison Park
Premier League

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Shinji Okazaki
Shinji Okazaki

Okazaki's strike against Everton ensured the Foxes were at the top of the Premier League table on Christmas Day 2015.

The magical story of Leicester’s 2015/16 season was merely seen by many on the outside as the proverbial good start to the season until the Foxes confirmed their place at the top of the Premier League standings for Christmas.

It took a fine away performance at Everton to get there, with Riyad Mahrez duly converting a first-half penalty following Ramiro Funes Mori’s foul on Shinji Okazaki and he would score again from the spot 20 minutes into the second half, but not before Romelu Lukaku had restored parity on Merseyside.

It was Tim Howard who brought down Jamie Vardy for the second chance to score from 12 yards, and shortly after Algerian international Mahrez sent the ball past the Toffees ‘keeper for the second time, Shinji Okazaki struck to open up a two-goal cushion.

Kevin Mirallas’ late goal proved to be a consolation as Claudio Ranieri’s men marched on, opening up a five-point gap on second place Arsenal with just over half of the campaign to go.

One of the many astonishing statistics which greeted City’s unique position included becoming the only Premier League team to be bottom of the table on Christmas Day one year and top of the standings the following Christmas.

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy toasts his match-winner in front of the home fans at Loftus Road.

Queens Park Rangers 0 Leicester City 1 
Loftus Road
21 December, 2013
Championship 

Leicester were once again right in the promotion mix ahead of Christmas 2013, but after missing out in the play-offs the previous year, automatic promotion was the aim in 2013/14.

Little did they know it at the time, but a one-goal victory over Queens Park Rangers on 21 December, 2013 would be a crucial afternoon for Nigel Pearson's side - kick-starting a nine-game winning run.

A tense game awaited at Loftus Road, despite some light relief early on as striker David Nugent chased away a rogue squirrel on the pitch, but a major moment was to come before the break. Kasper Schmeichel's long ball was nodded on by Nugent for his strike partner Jamie Vardy who, in a flash, chested the ball past Richard Dunne and powered the ball into Rob Green's far bottom corner. 

QPR had a gilt-edged opportunity to get back into almost immediately as Niko Kranjčar played in Charlie Austin, who then located Matt Phillips, but he could only chip his effort over the crossbar.

Lloyd Dyer missed for the Foxes in the second half, too, after being played in by Nugent, while Matty James' deflected drive rattled the bar, but the job was already done for the visitors. 

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Leicester City 2
20 December, 2020
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Premier League

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

City’s No.9 on the spot at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

A more recent festive fixture, during the 2020/21 season, saw City climb up to second in the Premier League table and two points ahead of Spurs, courtesy of a fine win over the north London side five days before Christmas.

The game, played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saw its first goal arrive right at the end of the first period. Wesley Fofana was pushed over by Serge Aurier in the penalty area and, after a VAR review, Jamie Vardy stepped up to edge the Foxes in front, scoring his 19th goal in 19 Premier League away games.

Brendan Rodgers’ high-flyers thought they had doubled the advantage via James Maddison’s fine finish early in the second half, but this time VAR denied Leicester a goal, though they would not have to wait long to be celebrating again.

Vardy latched onto an arrowed cross into the middle from Marc Albrighton, heading towards goal as the ball deflected off Toby Alderweireld and into the back of the net, wrapping up an impressive triumph and clean sheet on the road. The Foxes had collected 18 points from seven away games, the most in the Club’s history at that stage of a top-flight season.

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Matty Fryatt
Matty Fryatt

Former Walsall striker Matty Fryatt ended 2008/09 with 32 goals to his name in all competitions.

Leicester City 4 Peterborough United 0
King Power Stadium
20 December, 2008
League 1

Peterborough were the visitors to Filbert Way in the days leading into Christmas 2008, with Leicester in the third division of English football for the first and only time in the Club's history. Nigel Pearson was the man entrusted with getting the Foxes back into the Championship at the first attempt and the 2008/09 campaign was becoming a memorable one for City's supporters.

Leicester were unbeaten in seven, six of which were victories, and they sat atop of the standings before the Posh visited the East Midlands for a game which turned out to be another vintage afternoon. 

Craig Morgan's own goal after just six minutes set the tone for the visitors, who were two goals down before the interval as Matty Fryatt latched on to Kerrea Gilbert's ball to net his 23rd goal of the campaign.

In the second half, Academy graduate Andy King then nodded captain Matt Oakley's free-kick beyond Joe Lewis in Peterborough's net before Steve Howard added a fourth with a tidy finish from outside the box. City were top of the table at Christmas and they wouldn't let anyone take it from them again until the end of the season as they lifted the League 1 title with two games to spare. 

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Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel

A heroic penalty stop from Kasper Schmeichel keeps Leicester on track.

Leicester City 1 Liverpool 0
King Power Stadium
28 December, 2021
Premier League

The winter of 2021 was a tough one for the Foxes, an injury crisis had been exacerbated by COVID-19 cases in the camp, leaving manager Brendan Rodgers with a small pool of players to work with.

The fixture schedule had hardly been kind either, with a Carabao Cup last-eight tie at Liverpool on 22 December being followed by a Boxing Day visit to Etihad Stadium to tackle Manchester City. Liverpool were then due on Filbert Way on 28 December in the league.

It was a makeshift XI, with players out of position, backed up by a bench packed with Academy hopefuls. Kasper Schmeichel, though, led the disjoined Foxes excellently and superbly saved Mo Salah's first-half penalty to light the fuse on a magnificent atmosphere at King Power Stadium. 

The Foxes dug deep, diving into tackles with determination, fighting for every 50-50 - duly being roared into every challenge by the Blue Army. It was one of those nights where everyone associated with Leicester City appeared to make the decision that today would be a good day. Fourteen minutes into the second half, City broke, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall fed on-loan Ademola Lookman, and the Nigeria international drilled it past Alisson in the Reds net.

Delirium in the stands and a crucial three points for Rodgers against his former club. 

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