Football

Vardy time, at last

Jamie Vardy ends goal drought with first Leicester hat-trick

Jamie Vardy admitted he was relieved to end his goal drought and get Leicester back on track as the striker's hat-trick inspired a 4-2 win against Manchester City on Sunday morning (Singapore time).

The England international brought a halt to his 16-game barren run in spectacular fashion as he clinically converted all three of his shots at the King Power Stadium to net his first hat-trick for Leicester.

It was also Vardy's first treble since 2012 when he was playing for Fleetwood against Ebbsfleet in non-league football.

Vardy's life has changed hugely since then and asked if he could recall his previous hat-trick, the Premier League title winner said: "I'm guessing it was for Fleetwood, against Ebbsfleet? I think I scored an audacious halfway line shot as well."

Vardy is now Leicester's all-time leading Premier League scorer as his 34 goals took him ahead of Emile Heskey.

But the 29-year-old, who departed to a standing ovation when he was substituted in the closing stages, was more concerned with the impact his goals could have on Leicester after a disappointing run had seen them fall dangerously close to the relegation zone.

"You can definitely say that. We wanted to make sure we were competitive and see the team fighting for the cause and we definitely showed that," Vardy said.

"We will just get back on the training pitch and look forward to the next game."

After hinting that Vardy was in danger of losing his place and then resting him for the midweek Champions League defeat at Porto, Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri was delighted to see his star back on the goal trail.

"I'm very pleased for Jamie, when he finished I said 'oh welcome back'," Ranieri said.

He added: "I said I need warriors and they showed me what I wanted to see."

Ranieri's counterpart, Pep Guardiola, wasn't that pleased though, and said that his team had been undone by "long balls".

City had previously fallen to a 3-1 home defeat by Chelsea, who can put seven points between themselves and Guardiola's side if they win at home to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

"Four minutes, 2-0, is not easy," Guardiola told BT Sport.

"England is so good at one thing, the second balls. The counter-attack and the second balls. They (Leicester) are so tough on the counter-attack and defend so well.

"We tried until the end. Always in the game there are some good things. We tried, but it is difficult at that level after 2-0 and 3-0.

"They played long balls. We knew that. They win the ball, they were looking for our (defence) and they did well."

Guardiola once again tinkered with his starting formation, aligning a back three and deploying right-back Pablo Zabaleta in midfield alongside Fernando and Ilkay Guendogan.

City have flitted between a back three and a back four since Guardiola succeeded Manuel Pellegrini as manager, but he said: "It is not about the system."

It was City's third defeat of the campaign and they have registered just one clean sheet in their last 17 outings.

Asked how long it would take for his methods to take effect, Guardiola told the BBC: "I don't know. In the beginning it was quickly, now it will be a little bit longer.

"To change the mentality, to change what we want, maybe it will take a little more time."

- AFP

eplLeicester Citymanchester city