Premier League: Jamie Vardy scores brace as Leicester continue impressive run; Sheffield United, Newcastle bag comeback wins

The Associated Press

Birmingham: Jamie Vardy scored for an eighth straight game for Premier League high-flyers Leicester on Sunday with a double in a 4-1 dismantling of Aston Villa, while Sheffield United and Newcastle came back from behind to win.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Jonny Evans also scored to help Leicester set a new club record of eight consecutive top-flight wins and take the second-place team within eight points of Liverpool. Jack Grealish did make it 2-1 just before the break but the Foxes were rarely in danger.

Brendan Rodgers' side are 14 points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United in the pursuit of Champions League qualification.

"We are up there, we are challenging and playing well," Evans told broadcaster Sky Sports. "Probably now, today, I think people are starting to talk more about that.

"Coming away from Villa with a really good performance, I think that's the best Villa team we have played against for quite a while and we had to grind it out and it shows we are capable of getting good results."

By contrast, Villa are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference after slipping to a fifth defeat in seven games.

Villa was wide open and Leicester should have taken the lead after 10 minutes.

Caglar Soyuncu knocked James Maddison's deep free-kick back for Evans, who could only shoot straight at goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

Immediately, Villa broke to spurn their own golden chance when Matt Targett crossed for Anwar El Ghazi to hit the bar from six yards.

With the chance went Villa's early hopes and they swiftly lost any grip of the game when Vardy continued his scoring streak in the 20th minute.

Wesley lost the ball and the lively Iheanacho slipped the striker in to race clear and round Heaton. Vardy miscued his kick when preparing to shoot but recovered to tap in, despite Konsa's efforts on the line.

Vardy is now just three games away from equalling his own Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive games.

Villa's problems were partly of their own making with center back Tyrone Mings unable to cover having already suffered a hamstring injury and the defender was immediately replaced by Bjorn Engels.

Villa could not handle Vardy's pace and Iheanacho's movement. There was a touch of fortune but Leicester deserved to double its lead in the 41st when Maddison crossed and Iheanacho diverted in at the near post.

The Foxes were cruising but Grealish pulled a goal back in first-half injury time when he curled in from 16 yards after the visitors failed to clear a corner. Leicester, though, wasted no time in restoring their two-goal lead four minutes after the break.

Evans escaped Villa's defence and was left unmarked to thump in a brilliant header from Maddison's corner. The game was won although Maddison should have made it 4-1 only to clip the post.

Harvey Barnes also fired over five minutes later and Vardy wrapped up the game when he raced onto Dennis Praet's ball to roll under Heaton with 15 minutes left. It was Vardy's 16th goal of the season.

Sheffield, Newcastle bag comeback wins

Sheffield United came from behind to seal a 2-1 win over struggling Norwich at Carrow Road, while Newcastle did the same against Southampton on Tyneside.

The Blades bounced back from their first defeat in eight matches against Newcastle on Thursday with a determined and solid performance against a Norwich side who have not won at home since September.

Sheffield United is eighth in the league with 22 points from 16 games. Norwich is 19th with only 11 points. The Canaries took the lead through Alexander Tettey inside the opening half hour after starting the match brightly.

However, in the second half, it was Sheffield United who dominated. Enda Stevens' header drew his side level with George Baldock firing home just three minutes later to put the side ahead.

The game was not without its VAR disputes, with a red card for Chris Basham overruled and a lengthy delay over whether to award Sheffield United a goal, with both sets of fans expressing their displeasure at the new technology.

Further North, Federico Fernandez scored a late winner as Newcastle beat Southampton.

The defender netted his second goal of the season from close range after goalkeeper Alex McCarthy could only parry substitute Sean Longstaff's 87th-minute strike.

Jonjo Shelvey had cancelled out Danny Ings' opener for Southampton with his third goal in as many games as he headed in substitute Andy Carroll's cross in the 68th.

Newcastle moved up to 10th in the standings, while Southampton is in the relegation zone.


Also See: Premier League: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer not worried about Manchester United's position in 'tight' league table

Premier League: Brendan Rodgers aims to lead Leicester City back to summit of league after extending contract until 2025

Premier League: Freddie Ljungberg fails to break Arsenal's winless streak; Manchester United held to disappointing draw

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