Stephy Mavididi’s deflected opener was cancelled out before the break by Andre Dozzell – who would later be sent off for QPR – before a Winks stunner settled matters in west London. This was City’s seventh away victory in a row and also sees them match an all-time Foxes record for consecutive league wins – only once before, in 2014, has a Leicester team won nine on the trot. Their lead at the summit remains at five points, while the 14-point advantage over third place also remains intact, but Enzo Maresca’s men had to dig deep against a determined 10-man R’s outfit in the capital.
Three changes saw returns to the XI for Jamie Vardy, Conor Coady and Hamza Choudhury, following Tuesday night’s 1-0 home victory over Sunderland. After marking five years on Friday since a tragic helicopter accident at King Power Stadium, the 2,764 travelling supporters held up scarves throughout this clash, with a caption reading: ‘Always In Our Hearts’ – paying tribute to late Chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha; pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Lechowicz; and staff members Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare.
Stephy Mavididi's strike got the scoring underway for the Foxes in west London.
With City shining bright in their marigold third kit, it was a slow start from both sides in truth. Within the opening five minutes, Ghanian Abdul Fatawu was unfortunate not to test Asmir Begović in the Rangers net. He cut inside, on the right angle of the box, and searched for the top corner. It clipped off Kenneth Paal’s leg, though, and was diverted off course. Sam Field got in the way of Cesare Casadei’s low drive moments later, before the Italian also nodded a free header over. Charlie Kelman then tested Mads Hermansen from range for the R’s, but the Dane made a comfortable stop.
Just before the 30-minute mark, an excellent first touch bought Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall some room in the box, although Field recovered well to block his powerful attempt at goal. The half-hour was a crucial moment in the story of the game. Leicester’s pressure had been probing as opposed to relentless, Gareth Ainsworth’s hosts were frustrating them, but their patience paid off nevertheless. Dewsbury-Hall rolled the ball out wide to Mavididi. City’s No.10 took a touch and set himself, before seeing his curler deflect off Albert Adomah’s outstretched leg and loop over Begović – bulging the net on the far side.
QPR, on the back of five consecutive defeats, were determined to make a fight of it and will perhaps feel fortune was against them on Saturday. Ilias Chair drilled straight into Hermansen's grasp, but their next opening would be more penetrating. Adomah’s persistence down the right allowed him to cross for Lyndon Dykes in the area. His bullet header was excellently halted on the line by Hamza Choudhury. Neither he nor Hermansen could do anything to prevent Dozzell’s follow-up – a stinging half-volley just inside the area – sailing through a busy penalty area and finding the back of the net.
Harry Winks races towards the away end to toast his winner.
It was frustrating for Maresca’s visitors, but they stuck to the plan. They went close to regaining their advantage before the break when first Winks’ effort was saved well by Begović. Vardy then glanced Dewsbury-Hall’s corner across goal and wide in the first half’s final flash point. Once back out, Chair sent the ball flying over from 25 yards out, with Rangers the side pushing early on. The home side had emerged from the tunnel with belief, fuelled by the way they had fought their way back into the contest. Fatawu’s vicious half-volley – straight at Begović – gave the away end hope that their side’s worries were temporary.
Drama was just around the corner too. With Fatawu weaving through and advancing on goal, Dozzell hauled him to the ground illegally, slamming the door shut on his path into the box. That was already a bookable offence, but before referee Leigh Doughty could even reach for a card, a coming together between the pair saw Dozzell push Fatawu to the ground. Surrounded by both sets of players in the corner of the pitch, the referee took time to consider his response. The damage for Fatawu was just a yellow card, but after consulting the linesman, Doughty produced a second booking for Dozzell, QPR’s goalscorer.
Foxes fans hold up scarves proclaiming: 'Always In Our Hearts'.
Fatawu, now a target for jeers from the locals, shot wide shortly afterwards. A lengthy spell of Leicester possession ended with Casadei’s header floating over Begović’s crossbar on 76 minutes. City were turning the screw. They needed a bolt from the blue and that’s exactly what Winks delivered approaching the latter stages, as the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, on his first trip back to London with Leicester, belted it into the roof of the net from 20 yards out. That was his first goal for the Club, a thoroughly deserved reward after making such an excellent start to life as a Fox. The away end erupted with delight, with several City players high-fiving the Blue Army on the bottom tier. ‘We shall not be moved!’ they roared.
Leicester's tactic was clearly to establish an iron grip on the ball for the rest of the game, not allowing QPR an opportunity to snatch a point. Ricardo Pereira's wonderful hit, tipped wide by Begović, nearly gave them a third, but it wasn't needed in the end. Wild celebrations from the Foxes faithful at full-time emphasised the importance of these three points. Their side are one win away from a Club record 10th league success in a row – a feat no Leicester side has ever achieved. With 13 triumphs from 14 Championship matches, they're only the second team to do so in the second tier's history. This one required a different skillset to some of their other victories, fighting spirit, grit and steel, but it tastes just as sweet.
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