Gary Lim: Time to treat Leicester with respect
Leicester show title credentials with hard-fought win over Everton
(Romelu Lukaku 32, Kevin Mirallas 89)
LEICESTER CITY 3
(Riyad Mahrez 27-pen, 65-pen, Shinji Okazaki 69)
It's about time Leicester City are no longer treated like uninvited guests at an elegant dinner party.
Despite the looks of disapproval, the Premiership's paupers are having a ball of a time.
With a thrilling 3-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park yesterday, they extended their lead at the top of the table to five unbelievable points.
The impressive Riyad Mahrez netted a double from the spot before Shinji Okazaki scored another goal to complete his fine display.
For Everton, the strikes from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas were scant consolation.
The team who lead the Premiership on Christmas Day must never be taken lightly.
Five of the last six sides to lead the pack at Christmas have gone on to lift the crown, with the exception being Liverpool in the 2013/14 season.
Lowly Leicester have defied logic since day one.
They have captured the imagination of the footballing world with their fairy-tale run to the summit of the world's most competitive league.
The bubble wasn't even supposed to form. And when it did, it ought to have burst weeks ago.
Yesterday's performance in front of the shocked Everton home crowd will go a long way towards silencing the doubters.
Against the in-form Toffees on a slippery pitch, Leicester more than earned respect.
By now, the Foxes should have struck fear into those who fancy a tilt at the league crown.
Everton were supposed to be the start of a testing period, with a trip to Anfield and a home game against Manchester City completing their fixture schedule for 2015.
For a while, the hosts looked like they would do the honours of unmasking the greatest "conmen" the English Premier League has seen.
Full of running, determined and motivated, Everton dominated the early proceedings although Leicester constantly looked threatening on the break.
Claudio Ranieri's commitment to attacking football, instead of instructing his players to retreat to protect his defence, paid off.
They took the lead when Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori pulled down Okazaki to concede a penalty, which Mahrez converted in the 27th minute.
Everton got right back into the game five minutes later through sheer will.
Ross Barkley's shot was cleared off the line by Danny Simpson, but the excellent Lukaku lashed home to register his eighth successive goal in all competitions.
But Everton were to be undone by their impulsiveness in the penalty area again.
This time, it was goalkeeper Tim Howard who brought down Jamie Vardy in the second half, and Mahrez slotted home the spot-kick for his 13th league goal of the campaign.
Okazaki assured the victory with Leicester's third in the 69th minute, before Mirallas scored a late consolation goal for Everton.
It was far from Leicester's finest performance of this campaign.
But they are beginning to show that they have the mental strength to match their attacking flair.
They are grinding out results like champions do.
Are you watching, Arsenal and Manchester City?