Manager Claude Puel elected to make eight changes to the line-up which fell to a penalty shootout defeat by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup four days beforehand.
While Vardy, 31, returned to first team action, Academy graduate Hamza Choudhury retained his place in the starting XI to make his maiden Premier League start of the 2018/19 campaign.
Puel’s game plan was clear from the start with City deploying a 4-3-3 stratagem in an attempt to swamp the midfield, but also break with ferocious speed on the counter.
Leicester had to absorb pressure in the early exchanges – which they did willingly – waiting for their opportunity to pounce and look for Vardy, Maddison and Marc Albrighton up front.
Goal: Chelsea 0 Leicester City 1
Jamie Vardy scores the only goal against Chelsea to secure Leicester City's first win at Stamford Bridge in 18 years.
The first real opportunity came Chelsea’s way in the 17th minute. Willian’s corner was glanced across goal by Pedro, pushing it away from David Luiz at the far post.
Eden Hazard, too, was chasing his 100th Premier League goal for the Blues and nearly achieved that feat when he sidestepped Harry Maguire and clattered the crossbar in the 32nd minute.
At the other end, Kepa Arrizabalaga was called upon to make a breathtaking save to deny Wilfred Ndidi, whose ambitious effort from 20 yards seemed destined for the net.
Kasper Schmeichel, too, was in magnificent form in goal for the Foxes, punching Jorginho’s long-range effort away to safety.
City’s rewards for a defensively sound and offensively enterprising display came in the 51st minute with a goal which epitomised all of Vardy’s trademark qualities.
Ricardo found Maddison in the middle and when the 22-year-old slid it behind for Vardy to run onto, there was no doubt in the forward’s mind about where the ball was going.
His powerful effort led to delirious celebrations from the visitors in front of their travelling fans, with over 3,000 members of the Blue Army clad in free Santa hats gifted by the Club.
Schmeichel was once again needed to thwart Hazard minutes later, getting a fingertip to the Belgian’s low effort on the hour-mark, while City also pressed at the other end.
Albrighton’s deliveries were a source of significant concern for Chelsea.
His ball into the box, aimed at Vardy, was spilled by Arrizabalaga straight into the City No.9’s path, who tried to back-heel it into the net – but was denied by the knee of César Azpilicueta.
Leicester defended stoically in the latter moments, but were so nearly denied victory in the 90th minute as Marcos Alonso somehow hit the post despite having time in behind the backline.
However, the job was eventually completed in emphatic style by Puel’s men in the capital, who return to the East Midlands with an early Christmas present for their supporters.
Leicester defended valiantly throughout the 90 minutes in the capital.
While Jamie Vardy’s strike was ultimately what won the match, Marcos Alonso’s miss in added time, rebounding off the post and across goal, was a pivotal moment in the game.
City had earned such luck with a fantastic display in the 90 minutes which preceded it, however, and were fully deserving victors on a dramatic afternoon in the capital.
Jamie Vardy and James Maddison
Vardy's second half goal was an example of his incredible attacking threat.
Leicester’s No.9, Jamie Vardy, returned to the starting line-up to superb effect, linking up play in attacking positions and giving the visitors a fearsome attacking threat throughout.
His sixth goal of the Premier League season so far was typical of the Vardy we have all come to know so well in past seasons, exhibiting his pace and precision in front of Chelsea’s net.
Where do we stand?
The City bench celebrates Vardy's strike in the 51st minute.
The Foxes climb to ninth in the Premier League standings on the final matchday ahead of Christmas, with seven wins and 25 points from their opening matches.
Wes Morgan celebrates with team mates
Five members of Puel's squad head to the visiting fans at full-time.
Manchester City return to King Power Stadium for the second time in a week on Boxing Day for an exciting Premier League clash with the champions (3pm GMT kick-off).
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