Four goals down at the interval, the Foxes battled back in the second half, with three goals inside just 10 minutes – the first time since last season's 5-2 victory that Man City have conceded three at home in the league. It was the Citizens, though, who emerged with the points after a goal-laden encounter.
There were six changes to the Leicester XI which fell to a penalty shootout reverse at Liverpool in the Carabao Cup before Christmas, with Marc Albrighton, Daniel Amartey, Jannik Vestergaard, Ayoze Pérez, Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho coming in.
It was a daunting assignment for City as several fitness issues coincided with the season's most condensed fixture schedule. Pep Guardiola's champions, on the other hand, were four points clear at the apex ahead of kick-off in Manchester after winning eight league matches in a row.
Manager Brendan Rodgers' options were limited further during the warm-up too, as Ryan Bertrand picked up an injury and was replaced by youngster Vontae Daley-Campbell among the substitutes. As always, though, the Blue Army travelled in numbers with over 3,000 in attendance at Etihad Stadium.
Man City started quickly as former Fox Riyad Mahrez danced into the area and teed up Kevin De Bruyne to cross, but Amartey was able to stick a leg out. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall then blocked the Belgian's strike. There was nothing Kasper Schmeichel could do to stop him on five minutes, though.
Shortly afterwards, Leicester launched their first attack, with Albrighton advancing down the right and crossing for Lookman, who headed over. On 14 minutes, it was 2-0 to the home side, as referee Chris Kavanagh consulted the VAR monitor and penalised Youri Tielemans for a foul on Aymeric Laporte.
The Foxes were up against it in the North West. They could have halved the deficit on 14 minutes, however, when Iheanacho dragged the ball back for James Maddison to drill it at goal. João Cancelo was in the way to deny City's No.10 from adding to a record of five goals in seven games.
After Albrighton was felled on the edge of the area, Maddison then stepped up and whipped his free-kick towards the top left corner. Only a sublime stop from Ederson, tipping the ball onto the crossbar, denied the visitors, while Mahrez also prevented Lookman from reaching the rebound.
Maddison then glanced a header off target, from Albrighton's searching cross, before Ederson held onto Pérez's effort at goal. They were promising signs, but Man City went into the clash having scored 11 goals over their past two Premier League outings.
When Cancelo's low cross was parried by Schmeichel, there was Ilkay Gündogan to convert. Then Tielemans was adjudged to have brought Raheem Sterling down in the area and the England man made no mistake from 12 yards, riffling his spot-kick into the top right corner.
Schmeichel made a superb point-blank stop on 34 minutes as Oleksandr Zinchenko's chipped pass was cushioned on by Bernardo Silva into Sterling, before Lookman broke free, skipping past De Bruyne, with Maddison curling high and wide. Dewsbury-Hall also missed the target from 25 yards.
Man City were looking for another before the break. De Bruyne countered on the right and played in Mahrez, but the Algerian fired wide. Schmeichel was called upon again in added time as De Bruyne dragged his free-kick back to Gündogan, forcing the Leicester stopper into an admirable diving intervention.
At the interval, Timothy Castagne was introduced, replacing Pérez, with the Belgian setting up in the right-back position and pushing Albrighton upfield. Leicester were keeping hold of the ball with greater success in the second period and they were to get their reward on 55 minutes.
It came via neat play from Iheanacho, skipping into a pocket of space and sliding it across to Maddison to finish. The travelling Foxes faithful were cheering again moments later, too, when Iheanacho was again the architect, slipping a through ball into Lookman, who tucked into the corner confidently.
A remarkable game's next twist saw Fernandinho's header clip Amartey's thigh and bobble onto the top of Leicester's crossbar. It was 4-3 in the 65th minute. The impressive Maddison was unlucky to see his curler tipped onto the bar – but Iheanacho was well placed to find the net from close range.
Laporte's header, however, restored a two-goal advantage for Man City. The action continued when Maddison's quickly-taken free-kick played Iheanacho in, behind the hosts' backline. Ederson was able to race off his line and smother the Nigerian's low drive. Hamza Choudhury then replaced Tielemans.
After Mahrez blazed over, at the second attempt, Leicester came so close to getting within a solitary goal of their hosts once again. Luke Thomas did well down the left flank to cross, inviting Albrighton to head at goal, but the Premier League and FA Cup winner nodded it agonisingly wide.
With just over three minutes of normal time remaining, Rúben Dias mistimed his header on a Mahrez corner. Unintentionally, the Portuguese defender was still able to pick out Sterling, lurking inside the six-yard box, to poke home and make it 6-3 to the seven-time English champions.
The Foxes hit back to make it 4-3 inside just 10 second-half minutes in Manchester.
Brendan Rodgers' men had so admirably hit three goals inside 10 second-half minutes at Etihad Stadium to seriously worry the Manchester locals. A four-goal lead had become just one for Man City and it was very much Leicester who held all the momentum at that moment in time.
Aymeric Laporte's 69th-minute header, though, eased those nerves and allowed the Citizens to keep the battling Foxes at bay before Raheem Sterling stretched the distance wider late on. In the end, it was defeat for the visitors in the highest scoring top-flight Boxing Day fixture since 1991.
Midfielder James Maddison was once again a star man for the visitors.
Former Leicester City defender Gerry Taggart, speaking on LCFC Radio's live coverage, said: "There were some very good performances in the second half, but my Man of the Match has to be James Maddison. He was instrumental in getting Leicester on the front foot. Some of his football was sensational."
Where do we stand?
The Foxes manager encourages his team during the second half at Etihad Stadium.
The Foxes drop to 10th in the Premier League standings with 22 points from 17 matches.
On-loan winger Ademola Lookman was on the scoresheet for Leicester on Boxing Day.
The festive football does not relent for Leicester, who entertain Liverpool at King Power Stadium in the Premier League in two days' time, on 28 December (8pm kick-off). On New Year's Day, meanwhile, Norwich City are the visitors on Filbert Way to begin 2022 (3pm kick-off).
All times GMT.
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