Leicester City

2

Watford

0

Watford fell to a first defeat in seven games as substitute Jamie Vardy proved the match-winner for Sky Bet Championship leaders Leicester City.

Despite their stunning start to the season, the Foxes went into the game on the back of two successive losses but the returning Daniel Bachmann was the busiest of the two goalkeepers during the opening 45 minutes, denying Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Kasey McAteer.

Introduced early in the second half, it appeared initially to not be Vardy’s day as the experienced striker missed an open goal with the score still 0-0.

Two goals for the 36-year-old in the final 15 minutes decided the outcome, however, the latter an injury-time penalty following the dismissal of Bachmann for a second yellow card.

Valérien Ismaël made three changes from the XI that beat Rotherham United 5-0 before the international break, with Bachmann, Imrân Louza and Tom Ince coming in for Ben Hamer, Ismaël Koné and Yáser Asprilla.

The game’s first scoring opportunities fell to the Hornets with 10 minutes played. First, Mileta Rajović failed to connect cleanly with Ince’s cross after a neat build-up involving Jamal Lewis, and then moments later Louza struck over from outside the area.

At the other end, Wesley Hoedt found himself in the right place at the right time to make a vital block, with Kelechi Iheanacho ready to pounce from close range.

Louza tried his luck once again, this time curling a free-kick over the bar from almost the same position in which he scored at Blackpool just over a year ago.

The Foxes were bossing the possession and they went close twice in a matter of minutes through Dewsbury-Hall. The Leicester-born midfielder forced a low Bachmann save from 20 yards, and then sent a free-kick marginally wide with the Watford goalkeeper seemingly stranded.

They went closer yet in the final minute of the first half, McAteer outjumping Lewis at the back post only to be denied on the line by a sprawling Bachmann.

With neither side utilising their bench during the break, Leicester began the second half on the front foot, Stephy Mavididi diverting Iheanacho’s squared pass just the wrong side of the post.

Ismaël opted for a double substitution in midfield just a few minutes shy of the hour, with Jake Livermore and Louza making way for Koné and Giorgi Chakvetadze.

The hosts had made two changes of their own, introducing Abdul Fatawu and Vardy, and it was the latter who blazed over from a promising position inside the box following the former’s pass.

Vakoun Bayo replaced Rajović up top with 25 minutes remaining but Leicester continued to push for the opener, Dewsbury-Hall latching onto Ricardo Pereira’s ball over the top and striking the post.

Pereira was the provider once more, picking out Jannik Vestergaard with a cross from deep that the Danish defender headed onto the roof of the net.

Leicester seemed destined to take the lead with a quarter of an hour to go but Vardy inexplicably volleyed over the target with the goal gaping, however, the ex-England international was soon to make amends.

From a corner, Bachmann palmed away Vestergaard’s header but Vardy was on-hand to convert the loose ball and hand his team the advantage.

Looking to salvage a late point, Watford introduced Asprilla and Matheus Martins in place of Ince and Lewis, but it was the unlikely figure of defender Ryan Porteous that charged into the box in the closing stages, drawing a low save from Leicester stopper Mads Hermansen.

There was stoppage-time drama as Bachmann was dismissed for a second bookable offence after pulling down Vardy, who sent the resulting penalty past makeshift goalkeeper Porteous – who had been called upon with no further substitutes available to the Hornets’ Head Coach.

It confirmed defeat for the Hornets, who now regroup for the visit of Norwich City on Tuesday (November 28, 8pm KO).

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