Jamie Vardy incredibly opened the scoring inside just 21 seconds on the south coast, before Kasey McAteer netted his third goal of the season. A dramatic first half's next act was Samuel Edozie’s 25th minute effort for the Saints, but City were able to regain control before the interval. Wilfred Ndidi struck on the cusp of half-time while Stephy Mavididi’s breakaway goal later on made it comfortable for Enzo Maresca’s visitors. Kamaldeen Sulemana saw red in added time for the home side too.
"Off the ball we were unbelievable, very aggressive and I’m very happy to be honest," Maresca said at full-time. "We’ve won five out of six, which is important. Now we have a game on Wednesday but then we have a game again on Saturday. Now until probably October, we’re going to play three games a week."
This win means Leicester's excellent start to 2023/24 goes on, with 15 points from a possible 18. Top of the table on Friday, City ended the matchround in second place, with Preston North End climbing to the summit on 16 points. Each side went into this clash on the back of defeats. While Hull City left King Power Stadium with three points before the international break, the Saints endured a 5-0 beating at Sunderland. Friday's clash at St. Mary's was always likely to be an interesting one. It pitted two sides with similar tactical ideas against one another. Russell Martin's hosts, though, struggled to keep the ball, with City often galloping forwards in numbers after seizing possession in midfield. It would ultimately be the home side's undoing.
Kasey McAteer has made an impressive start to the season in City's senior side.
Before kick-off, there was a poignant moment when each team and their supporters observed a minute’s silence in memory of those who have tragically lost their lives as a result of natural disasters in Libya and Morocco.
Vardy – back in the XI and with the captain's armband on – was celebrating his first goal of the new campaign after 21 seconds. Mavididi’s cross found the Club’s third all-time top goalscorer and there he was to convert past Gavin Bazunu from around 10 yards out. The Saints' loose passing almost cost them again moments later when debutant Taylor Harwood-Bellis played the ball straight into Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s feet. He seemed surprised to have it if anything and he took too long to pick out a shot on target.
Martin's hosts did have chances too. James Justin, making his first start of 2023/24, was brave to stop Adam Armstrong’s shot early on. Ché Adams stung Mads Hermansen’s gloves from range too. Harry Winks was then dispossessed by Will Smallbone inside Leicester’s area, with Hermansen off his line and the goal gaping. The Danish shot-stopper, however, did especially well to recover, making his body big and smothering Adams’ shot on the spin. This was a game defined by Saints mistakes and City's ability to punish them on the transition. When Kyle Walker-Peters surrendered possession to Dewsbury-Hall, his quick-thinking, superb pass put it on a plate for McAteer to take a touch with one foot and slam the ball into the net with the other.
Southampton had struggled to get a foothold in the game, but they’re nevertheless a side with real quality in attacking areas. On 25 minutes, Callum Doyle misjudged a loose ball and Adams took it under his control, eventually sliding it through to Edozie, who chipped Hermansen to make it 2-1. The Foxes remained cool, sticking to the plan. Just after the half-hour, a tidy free-kick move kept the home side running until Ndidi launched a powerful daisy-cutter which needed a strong arm from Bazunu to tip it around the far post. Vardy also clipped Winks’ cross with his right boot after a corner routine paid off nicely. The Saints ‘keeper was alert to the threat, mind you, and made the save look comfortable in the end. Mavididi even had the locals purring when he rolled the ball through Smallbone’s legs on the edge of the area, but his shot was too tame to worry Bazunu.
Stephy Mavididi wrapped up the scoring for Leicester City.
Harwood-Bellis’ header – from Ryan Manning’s free-kick – was straight at Hermansen. Leicester countered in an instant. Dewsbury-Hall threaded the ball through to Mavididi, lurking on the left channel. He still had to get it upfield, which he did, but Bazunu simply stuck out a leg to prevent the City No.10’s effort from hitting the net. Leicester will have felt they should have had more goals for their good efforts.
It looked like they'd have to settle for just two in the first half when Mavididi couldn’t make sufficient contact on Dewsbury-Hall’s perfect through ball. Ndidi, too, saw a chance come and go after McAteer recycled the ball in the Saints’ box. Leicester's No.25 wouldn't waste another opening when it came his way in stoppage time. Mavididi could have shot himself after skipping inside Edozie but he spotted Ndidi in a pocket of space. The Nigerian had work to do, spinning on the spot before slotting it neatly into the corner.
Into the second half, it was nearly 15 minutes until a genuine opening for either side. Adams hit it low and hard, but also too close to Hermansen. Armstrong also blazed over a gilt-edged opportunity at the near post. Mavididi had his head in his hands shortly afterwards as he clipped a through-ball by Dewsbury-Hall wide. He had Vardy for support as well, but elected to shoot, narrowly missing the target.
Another win on the road for Enzo Maresca's men.
The game was on the edge. A Southampton goal would make it tense. A Leicester one would surely end the contest. Mavididi would have been forgiven for allowing his confidence to dip after missing several chances on the night. With 23 minutes of the game to go, home substitute Sulemana gift-wrapped an opportunity to break away to the young Englishman, signed from Montpellier in the summer. There was still so much to do, though, and he showed real courage to finish it off. Mavididi cushioned the ball around Smallbone on the half-way line and his raw pace quickly saw him took him away from anyone in red and white. He had options to square it either side, but he backed himself and buried it into Bazunu’s bottom corner. Four for the Foxes.
Iheanacho could, and perhaps should, have made it five in added time when Abdul Fatawu skidded the ball into his path, just inside the box. The Nigeria international couldn't keep it down, though. The Saints were also reduced to 10 men deeper into the added six minutes. A late challenge by Sulemana on Justin ended the Saints man's night. It mattered not in the general scheme of things. Leicester's work was already complete and the 2,161 away fans had another Foxes win to celebrate.
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