Michael Carrick praised Middlesbrough’s incredible spirit after an impressive 2-1 victory at Championship leaders Leicester ended a four-game winless run.

Boro completed a league double over the Foxes after Finn Azaz produced a cool finish into the top left corner from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass to break the deadlock in the 24th minute before Samuel Silvera powered home to double the lead eight minutes before half-time.

Despite Jamie Vardy finding the bottom left corner with five minutes left to play from Tom Cannon’s ball in behind, Boro held on to claim their first win at the King Power Stadium and inflict a first home defeat on the Foxes since November.

The visitors remain seven points off the play-off places and Carrick insists his side have plenty more to offer after securing just their second league victory since the turn of the year.

Carrick said: “The spirit and the will to win was there, tactically the boys understood it, the boys were so eager to carry it out, it’s not easy as we’ve taken a few hits lately, the spirit was incredible.

“I’m just happy the boys had something go their way for a change, they deserve it because they’re an unbelievable group to work with, it doesn’t surprise me.

“The players are happy without being overly happy which is good, they’re eager to bring on what’s next, there was almost a feeling we could have scored one or two more and made it a little bit easier, they had chances towards the end, but there’s a good sense that that is still not enough, we want some more.

“We played very similar to how we played at home against them, they put five across their top line, it was just different personnel and the boys did their specific jobs unbelievably well and I was really pleased they took that on board.”

Leicester missed a number of gilt-edged chances throughout as Jannik Vestergaard twice failed to hit the target from close range while substitute Vardy blazed over the bar shortly before he reduced the deficit.

The Foxes saw their eight-game unbeaten run at home come to an end although Leicester boss Enzo Maresca was pleased his side kept fighting until the final whistle despite lacking quality in the final third.

Maresca said: “It was just one of those days you have to drop points, we created many chances before their goal, we pushed until the end and tried until the end and that’s the most important thing.

“Even playing a different way we created a lot of chances, we tried to adjust and adapt, we lost a little bit of balance after we conceded the first goal and we conceded some counter attacks which we need to avoid.

“We missed the last pass, even with these things that we need to improve, we had many chances that we missed, we were close, it’s part of our season, we can’t think we’re going to win every game.

“We have 13 games, we need to win some more games to reach our target, it’s not easy, you can drop points every game in the Championship, from now on all the games are important, we didn’t drop in terms of commitment, it was a lack of quality in the last third.”

Middlesbrough claimed their first win at the King Power Stadium with a 2-1 victory over Championship leaders Leicester.

After the Foxes missed two big chances to take the lead, Finn Azaz opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a clever finish from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass before Samuel Silvera’s emphatic strike after 37 minutes extended Boro’s advantage.

Substitute Jamie Vardy halved the deficit in the 85th minute, producing an excellent finish into the bottom left corner, but Boro held on to end a four-game winless run and complete the double over Leicester.

The Foxes, who lost at home for the first time since November, are now nine points in front of second-placed Leeds – their next opponents on Friday.

The home side spurned a golden opportunity to take the lead after five minutes when Jannik Vestergaard headed Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s cross from the right into the side netting from five yards.

Leicester missed another gilt-edged chance soon after as Patson Daka somehow miscued his close-range header, sending the ball across the face of goal.

Moments later, Abdul Fatawu cut in from the right and saw his goalbound effort blocked behind by Matt Clarke.

Boro took full advantage of those missed opportunities to break the deadlock when Silvera released O’Brien in behind and the midfielder squared the ball across the box to Azaz who coolly lifted into the top left corner.

Foxes defender Ricardo Pereira then made a crucial interception as he cut out O’Brien’s square ball after Boro caught Leicester on the counter attack from their own corner.

However, the visitors doubled their lead after Stephy Mavididi played a short pass to James Justin from a throw-in and Riley McGree pounced to slip in Silvera who smashed the ball into the left corner of the goal.

Leicester searched for a way back into the game before the break as Fatawu’s shot from 20 yards dipped narrowly over the crossbar before Dewsbury-Hall saw his effort deflect over the top.

Boro could have extended their lead early in the second half when Azaz lifted a pass through to McGree and Foxes goalkeeper Mads Hermansen hesitated coming off his line only for the midfielder to carry the ball out of play.

McGree then curled a free-kick inches wide of the post from 25 yards after Wout Faes bodychecked Azaz to break up a promising Boro attack.

Leicester should have reduced the deficit when Kasey McAteer played a ball across the box to fellow substitute Vardy only for the veteran striker to blaze his shot over the bar from close range before Vestergaard repeated the feat moments later.

However, Vardy made amends for his earlier miss five minutes from time when he produced a clinical finish into the bottom left corner after racing onto Tom Cannon’s ball in behind the Boro defence.

The Foxes were unable to find a leveller as Boro put their bodies on the line to win away at Leicester for the first time since September 2001 and bring an end to the home side’s four-game winning run.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca refuses to accept that his side are all-but promoted.

A 2-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday at King Power Stadium moved the Foxes 14 points clear of third-placed Southampton.

It looks to be only a matter of time before Maresca’s side confirm their return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

But the Italian coach does not see it that way and warned his players against complacency over the next stage of the season.

“If any of my players show a drop, I will change them, even after two minutes,” he said.

“They won’t play. We aren’t changing anything, we have to keep winning and we have to respect our opponents.

“I’m very happy with this win, but now the focus moves on to Saturday when we play Middlesbrough.

“We struggled a little when they changed shape in the second half, but after about 15 or 20 minutes we were OK.

“But I wanted a third goal before half-time to make us more comfortable, if they score one they can come back.”

Jamie Vardy scored against his boyhood club and also played a part in Leicester’s opening goal after four minutes.

“Jamie showed well with two goals against Stoke and he was fighting and pressing against Watford, now he’s the player who has scored the most goals for us this season,” Maresca added.

“I am very happy with him. I felt this game would suit Jamie and the idea here was for him to start. It’s my duty to give everyone minutes, sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t, but Jamie was working well.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl was encouraged by his team’s second-half performance.

“We showed a lot more in the second half and I was happier with our reaction to going behind,” he said.

“We changed to a back five but it was more having the belief.

“There was an improvement, but against Leicester you need to be good for 90 minutes and we had one good half.

“That was the positive thing we can take from the game and I think our supporters at the end recognised our second-half performance.

“This is what we can do if we are on the front foot, the data showed that. If we could have had one goal, then maybe we can try to do something.

“At Leicester it is a challenge, but we always wanted to try to get something. We drew with them at home. We know how strong they are, they are outstanding. But we reacted better than we did against Southampton.

“What we have to do now is come to every game and take as many points as we can.”

Leicester strengthened their position at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as captain Jamie Vardy scored against his boyhood club in a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at King Power Stadium.

Enzo Maresca’s side had the game won by half-time and are now 14 points clear of third-placed Southampton as they close in on promotion back to the Premier League.

Vardy, who was released by the Owls for being too small as a teenager, also played a part in the opening goal for Abdul Fatawu after four minutes.

Vardy started a game for the first time in more than two months and, coincidentally, the last Championship game he was on from the start was against Wednesday.

But this was a genuine team display with threats from all over the pitch in a commanding performance against Danny Rohl’s struggling side.

Leicester took an early lead after a mix-up in the visitors’ defence.

Goalkeeper James Beadle’s short pass put Will Vaulks in trouble with Dennis Praet close by. The ball fell to Kieran Dewsbury-Hall who delivered a cross meant for Vardy – but his step-over allowed the ball to go through for Fatawu and he tapped into an empty net.

Wednesday struggled against Leicester’s slick style of play with Harry Winks, Vardy and Dewsbury-Hall all causing problems.

On the half-hour, Dewsbury-Hall twisted and put in a cross which defender Wout Faes could only hook over the crossbar.

But Leicester extended their lead nine minutes before half-time when a long ball from Faes found Dewsbury-Hall and he neatly set up the chance for Vardy to score with an angled drive.

It was his 11th goal of the season and made him Leicester’s top scorer.

The Owls briefly threatened to pull a goal back when Djeidi Gassama’s long-range shot was saved by Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen.

Wednesday substitute Anthony Musaba then sent a shot inches past the far post as the game passed the hour mark.

Vardy received a standing ovation when he was substituted with 10 minutes to go.

Leicester were able to play out the final minutes under no pressure, although there were some encouraging signs for Rohl in the second half.

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca is content to ignore criticism from some Foxes fans after seeing his side move 11 points clear at the top of the Championship with a 5-0 demolition of Stoke.

Doubles from Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy helped the visitors take another step toward an immediate return to the Premier League.

Daka opened the scoring with a tap-in shortly before Kasey McAteer’s deflected long-range strike doubled the Foxes’ lead.

After the restart the in-form Daka converted Leicester’s first penalty of the afternoon for a sixth goal in eight games.

Substitute Vardy then notched his ninth and 10th goals of the season, his second deep in stoppage time also from the penalty spot.

It was the league leaders’ biggest victory of the season, much to the delight of boss Maresca.

“The most important thing for me is the way that the team is getting better,” said the Leicester boss.

“I don’t like it when people hurt the players, because I know the effort that they’re doing to bring this club back to the Premier League.

“Since the start, I see the way that they’re working and I know that they’re doing everything they can.

“If some of the fans aren’t sure or convinced, it doesn’t matter to me. The performance was very good today and that experience will make us better.

“I’m very happy with the result and the clean sheet, especially with the first half-an-hour, that was very good and we played the way that we like to play.

“The last 10 minutes of the first half, we conceded two yellow cards that we needed to avoid as it could compromise the game, but that was it.

“We’re very happy and when we play away, the environment is always nice and the players and fans together enjoy the moment.

“I’ve said many times, our fans are unbelievable. At home some of them maybe aren’t convinced, but it is what it is.

“It’s important for us to have lots of options and every time we need them, they help, so we’re very happy.”

It was another dismal afternoon for Stoke, whose winless run at home now stands at nine games, dating back to October.

“We were miles off it and they were just too good for us,” said boss Steven Schumacher, who oversaw a third defeat on the spin.

“They showed today why they’re top of the league. They’ve done everything properly, but they didn’t have to work hard at all.

“We didn’t have the belief or the quality. We tried, but they had too much for us and their goals were too easy.

“We knew we were coming up the best team, this result wasn’t going to determine the outcome of the rest of the season, but the next two might do.

“I need to make sure that we respond and put in a better performance and try to get a win.

“It’s three games now with three defeats and we need to do something about it, so Blackburn’s going to be a big game at the weekend.

“We need to get the players ready for it. We have to react and we won’t go away and sulk.

“There’s a real lack of confidence at home. When things go against us or there’s a little adversity, the crowd turns against us and it affects the players.

“We have to work hard to try and change that now.”

Enzo Maresca conceded Leicester rode their luck en route to booking their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 win against Birmingham.

Birmingham spurned a number of first-half chances before Foxes striker Jamie Vardy opened the scoring after 47 minutes with his first goal in over two months from Marc Albrighton’s cross.

Yunus Akgun smashed his first Leicester goal into the top-left corner from the edge of the penalty area after 72 minutes before Dennis Praet sealed the win two minutes from time with a confident finish from substitute Tom Cannon’s cutback.

Maresca said: “We were lucky in the first half, they had many chances. The second half was much better, we controlled the game and made some tactical adjustments.

“A big part of the final result is down to Jakub (Stolarczyk’s) saves in the first half, that gave us the opportunity to still be in the game in the second half.

“(The first goal) was like 2016, it was fantastic, I’m happy for Jamie because it’s always important for a striker to score goals and also happy for Marc for the assist.

“I’m especially happy for the seven or eight players young players we had in the squad from the academy, I think it’s something historic.

“We expected to struggle a little bit because of the changes and playing many young players but we struggled because we were not playing in the way we like to play with the ball.

“I was very calm (at half-time), I was ready for the first half, it’s normal that we struggled with 10 new players in the team.”

Blues manager Tony Mowbray could not believe his team were not in front at the break after a number of good chances went begging as he suffered a first defeat as Birmingham boss.

Mowbray said: “We could have been four-nil up, maybe five, at half-time, we squandered some pretty good chances, in the end their quality showed.

“We’re trying to create an identity, there were plenty of positives in the first half, the changes we made didn’t help us.

“It felt as if we were making changes and becoming less effective and they were making changes and becoming more effective.

“The second goal was a real killer for us, the game ran away from us.

“The players have seen the identity and how hard they have to work, if they don’t bring it they won’t be playing, they either want to come on the journey or they don’t.

“Who can criticise anybody for the first-half performance? Everybody did their job and a bit of somebody else’s job and the rewards were there for all to see.

“It was difficult to comprehend that we didn’t come in winning the game at half-time but we had to accept it and try and repeat it but we couldn’t.”

Jamie Vardy scored for the 11th match in a row on this day in 2015 to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record and earn Leicester a 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

The England forward opened the scoring against Manchester United in the 24th minute to surpass Van Nistelrooy’s 10-game mark, which had stood since 2003.

Vardy found his 14th goal of the season when he got on the end of Christian Fuchs’ pass and rifled past David De Gea from close range and become the first player to score in 11 consecutive games in the Premier League era.

Manchester United managed to find an equaliser when Bastian Schweinsteiger cancelled out Vardy’s opener with a powerful header from close range to make it 1-1.

The 28-year-old started the run of consecutive games with a late penalty in a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth three months earlier in August which included doubles against Arsenal and Southampton, a winner against Watford and the record-equalling strike in a 3-0 win at Newcastle the week before.

Vardy’s incredible run came after he was made an England international in June, just three years after becoming non-league football’s first £1million player following a move to the King Power Stadium from Fleetwood in 2012.

After breaking the record, Vardy said: “It’s unbelievable. I think I got a bit carried away with myself.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of pace in the team and I think counter-attacking is a big advantage for us.

“If we can break as quick we have, then obviously it is going to benefit the team.”

Vardy’s goals helped power the Foxes to the Premier League crown under Claudio Ranieri and he finished the season as the league’s second top scorer behind Golden Boot winner Sergio Aguero.

No player has yet to break Vardy’s record which still stands and he went on to win more silverware with Leicester, lifting the FA Cup trophy in 2021 before being relegated with the club in 2023.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca praised Jamie Vardy’s character after the former England striker missed an open goal before scoring twice to earn the Championship leaders a 2-0 win over Watford.

Vardy came off the bench to lift a Leicester side that had been struggling to break down Watford, who had been heading for a point after a stubborn display.

But it did not look like being Vardy’s day as he sent one opportunity over the bar, before missing again from four yards out.

Vardy refused to let the misses get to him though and he opened the scoring just two minutes later after Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann had parried Jannick Vestergaard’s header.

In the third minute of stoppage time, Vardy sealed the points when he was brought down in the penalty area by Bachmann, who was shown a second yellow card by referee Sam Allison.

Defender Ryan Porteus had to go in goal and he could do nothing to prevent Vardy converting the spot-kick as he found the net for the first time since early October.

“You can miss, miss, miss, but in the end, you want to find a goal,” said Maresca, who saw his side win for the first time in three games.

“Jamie’s scored goals all his life and he will continue to do that. It’s in his blood.

“This is the reason why he’s Jamie Vardy. He’s scored more than 100 goals in the Premier League.

“You have to be there, to miss a chance and he was there again to score. That was the most important thing.

“The best thing for me, as a manager, is to take Jamie as an example – the way he behaved and showed he’s a leader and how he wants to win games.

“But when I saw Jamie missing twice, I thought it was a game we were not going to win.

“You expect missed chances from all of the players in the squad apart from Jamie!”

Leicester had 23 shots on goal – compared to one on target from Watford.

“This is a journey that started less than five months ago,” added Maresca. “Thinking in that time that everything is working well, it’s not the reality.

“But I was very happy to be honest, especially after two defeats and seeing how difficult it is to win games.”

Watford came into the game unbeaten in six matches and on the back of a 5-0 win over Rotherham.

But they rarely troubled Leicester – although they had a chance to equalise late in the game when Porteous tested goalkeeper Mads Hermansen.

Manager Valerien Ismael said that he felt Vardy was lucky to still be on the field before scoring his second goal.

Ismael pointed out that Vardy had already been booked for kicking the ball away when he went in strongly on Watford’s Wesley Hoedt.

But referee Allison did not show Vardy a second yellow card.

Ismael also admitted Bachmann’s dismissal could have been avoided as his first yellow was unnecessary.

The goalkeeper ran 50 yards to dispute Vardy’s challenge on Hoedt and was booked.

“I spoke with Dan. I said to him that the first yellow card can be avoided,” said Ismael.

“We had a meeting before the game and when you have a captain who is a goalkeeper we nominate an outfield player to speak to the referee in certain situations.

“But if our goalkeeper runs 50 yards to talk to the referee, then you are in danger of getting a yellow card.”

Ismael criticised the decision not to book Vardy for a second time.

Asked if Vardy was lucky to stay on the pitch, the Hornets coach said: “Yes, very lucky,

“It’s a clear foul on Hoedt. Just after, it’s exactly the same, but a yellow card for our player. It was a strange decision.

“But we needed to be more ruthless in the game.”

Jamie Vardy came off the bench to earn Championship leaders Leicester their first victory in three matches, scoring twice in a 2-0 win over Watford.

It had looked like being a half of frustration for the former Premier League Golden Boot winner, after he somehow missed an open goal from four yards out in the 74th minute.

But he called on all of his experience to make sure he was in the right spot just two minutes later to score from close range after Jannik Vestergaard’s header had been parried by Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann.

Vardy then sealed the game three minutes into stoppage time when he was brought down by Bachmann as the Leicester striker raced into the penalty area.

It was a challenge that earned the goalkeeper a second yellow card as he had been booked 10 minutes earlier. Vardy took the spot-kick himself and converted it decisively as defender Ryan Porteus took over in goal.

The result eased the tension among the home fans after Enzo Maresca’s side had failed to score in their previous two games. But, the longer the match went on, the more likely Leicester were to score, and so it proved.

Watford had been content to soak up Leicester’s pressure and try to catch them on the break.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was City’s biggest threat throughout. After 10 minutes, he found space on the left and delivered a cross into the six-yard box, but none of his team-mates could get on to the end of it as Watford cleared their lines.

Dewsbury-Hall came close in the 29th minute after Kasey McAteer tapped a free-kick to him. The Leicester midfielder shot from 20 yards out, but his effort flew just wide.

Just before half-time, Dewsbury-Hall delivered a cross to the far post but Bachmann smothered McAteer’s chance on the goal-line.

Kelechi Iheanacho picked out Stephy Mavididi after 52 minutes, but his first-time shot only found the side netting, with the Leicester forward clearly annoyed with himself for failing to take advantage of the opening.

Maresca decided to make changes up front, introducing Vardy and Abdul Fatawu as substitutes. But when the two combined to create an opening, Vardy blazed his shot over the bar.

Again, Dewsbury-Hall came close to breaking the deadlock with 20 minutes to go when he turned Ryan Andrews in the Watford area, only to see his left-foot shot strike the near post.

Leicester launched a series of attacks and defender Vestergaard’s header landed on the roof of the net from Ricardo Pereira’s cross.

Vardy missed a clear chance after Mavididi’s run carved out the chance but the former England striker made up for that just minutes later though when Leicester finally got the goal they deserved.

That forced Watford to look for an equaliser and Porteus brought a save from Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen with the visitors’ only shot on target.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca says it will be impossible to keep all of his top players happy this season as he aims to take the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The Italian coach made six changes against Stoke, in what was his side’s third game in six days.

The move paid off as Leicester recorded their sixth successive Championship win that kept them top of the table.

Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring after 24 minutes before Jamie Vardy came off the bench to wrap up a 2-0 win.

Vardy had started on Wednesday against Preston, with Iheanacho coming off the bench to score.

“That’s why we try to switch them around,” said Maresca. “The other night against Preston, Kele was probably not happy to be on the bench.

“But he came on and was fantastic.

“Here, Jamie was not happy to be on the bench. But he came on and scored, and was happy.

“To be competitive, you need two players for each position so they can compete between them. In the end, we can choose one of them.

“Here we left out Wout Faes, Stephy Mavididi, Wilfred Ndidi, James Justin and Jamie.

“But they cannot think to play 46 games. It’s impossible.

“At the moment, no human being can play every game at the same level.

“Maybe next time, I’ll make six changes, we’ll lose and I’ll be wrong. But we have to make those decisions.”

Maresca accepted that Stoke had been tough to break down, as have a number of visitors to the King Power Stadium.

“We need to improve a lot because we are going to face these kinds of games many times. But we are going in the right direction,” he added.

Stoke manager Alex Neil had nine players missing through injury.

He said he wanted to take the game to Leicester in the second half, but the home side’s strength in depth was difficult to combat.

“If we’d got to half-time at 0-0, our intention was always to try and have a go,” he said.

“You can see why, when you do that, you don’t come here and go toe to toe with Leicester. Particularly when you haven’t got your strongest squad.

“But we had arguably two of the best chances in the game which fell to Nathan Lowe. He’s disappointed, but I said to him afterwards that I’d be more disappointed if they weren’t falling to him.

“If we had a stronger team, we’d get a better feel of where we are compared to them. We had a young side out.

“The minute we changed, they brought on pace at the top end of the pitch.

“Jamie Vardy’s going to cause you all kinds of problems at this level.

“But our set up was good, I don’t think they really had a chance until their goal. That was disappointing from our perspective as Iheanacho was really wide.”

Neil admitted Leicester’s dominance at this level shows no sign of weakening.

“They’ll be one of the best Championship teams in a long time,” he said.

“Just look at the stadium and the fans, and the players they’ve got. They have four internationals who’ve played for England – I don’t remember that happening anywhere else.”

Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy were both on target as Leicester stayed top of the Championship with a 2-0 victory against Stoke at the King Power Stadium.

Iheanacho scored for the third successive game as the dominant Foxes reached the 30-point mark from only 11 games and already have a 10-point cushion to third.

But, once more, Enzo Maresca’s side had to work hard for their victory against stubborn opponents, with injury-hit Stoke providing the league leaders with few chances until the latter stages.

Iheanacho broke the deadlock after 24 minutes but Leicester had to wait until the 79th minute before substitute Vardy netted his fourth league goal of the season from close range.

The result meant the Foxes recorded three home league wins in succession, without conceding, for the first time since April 2017, when Craig Shakespeare was in charge.

Maresca made six changes from Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Preston. That included former Stoke defender Harry Souttar’s first Championship start of the season.

Stoke went into the game missing nine players through injury and their bench contained two goalkeepers and two 16-year-olds.

Stoke made it clear early on that Leicester would have to work hard to break them down.

And the visitors created an early opening of their own when Bae Jun-ho raced to the edge of the area and went down under a challenge from Jannik Vestergaard, but referee Geoff Eltringham dismissed all shouts for a penalty.

Leicester took the lead through Iheanacho’s third goal in as many games.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Ricardo Pereira combined to supply Iheanacho on the left of the Stoke area, and he drove the ball into the far corner before Stoke goalkeeper Mark Travers could react.

Leicester’s command of the game was displayed when the scoreboard showed them having 90 per cent possession at one point.

Stoke had a clear chance to equalise at the start of the second half when Mehdi Leris delivered a cross for Nathan Lowe, but he mistimed his header in front of goal and watched it fly over the bar.

But Leicester almost scored their second goal of the game when Yunus Akgun’s shot from the edge of the area brought an impressive save from Travers.

Leicester eventually extended their lead with substitute Vardy being on the end of an excellent move.

Vardy had only been on the field for three minutes when he was presented with a close-range opportunity after some neat exchanges involving Dewsbury-Hall and Abdul Fatawu before Wilfred Ndidi’s final ball set up the Leicester number nine to score.

Leicester returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with an impressive 4-1 win at Blackburn.

In the first ever meeting between two former Premier League winners in the second tier, it was Enzo Maresca’s pace-setters who prevailed.

Wout Faes gave the Foxes an early lead and although they were soon pegged back through Rovers’ top scorer Sammie Szmodics, Jamie Vardy restored the lead before half-time with a powerful finish for his fourth of the season.

Their passing style eventually wore down Blackburn and they made the game safe with two goals in the final 10 minutes, with Kelechi Iheanacho converting an 82nd-minute penalty before Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s clever finish six minutes later capped a superb afternoon for the visitors who have won eight of their nine league games.

Rovers dropped to 18th after a fourth defeat in five.

Leicester were quickly into their stride and went ahead in the fourth minute when Abdul Fatawu swung a cross to the far post and Faes outjumped his marker to power a header into the bottom-right corner.

But Blackburn’s high press caught them cold five minutes later when Mads Hermansen’s pass was intercepted by Lewis Travis and the ball found Szmodics who stepped inside Ricardo Pereira before slamming his sixth of the season into the bottom corner.

Leicester struggled to find any rhythm, but Vardy was close to spectacularly regaining the lead when he controlled and let fly with a ferocious shot that clipped the top of the bar.

He made no mistake with a ruthless 28th-minute finish though, as he brilliantly controlled Wilfred Ndidi’s first-time cross from the right before hammering a left-foot strike into the roof of the net.

Although Rovers continued to look a threat, Leicester almost struck a third on the break but Dewsbury-Hall found the side-netting just before the break.

After a positive start to the second half, Blackburn nearly conceded a third when Vardy rounded the goalkeeper and squared to Ndidi but Harry Pickering heroically blocked his shot.

The hosts’ best chance came with 14 minutes to go when Tyrhys Dolan was set free down the left and his pass found Travis whose powerful low drive was brilliantly saved by Hermansen before Jannik Vestergaard blocked Szmodics’ rebound.

It proved crucial as Hayden Carter’s tug on Vestergaard’s shirt in the box gave the Foxes a chance to put the game to bed in the 82nd minute and Iheanacho made no mistake from the spot, slotting his penalty into the left corner with ease.

Dewsbury-Hall added a sumptuous fourth with two minutes remaining, latching onto Yunus Akgun’s pass before beautifully lifting over substitute goalkeeper Leo Wahlstedt from a narrow angle.

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson believes Jamie Vardy’s winning mentality at the latter stages of his career is something that should be recognised.

Vardy, 36, made sure there would be no celebration for Pearson, who made his first return to Leicester City since being sacked in 2015.

The Leicester striker scored from the penalty spot in the 67th minute, after Wilfred Ndidi had been brought down by Kai Naismith, to secure a 1-0 victory which put Enzo Maresca’s side back on top of the Championship table.

It was Pearson who started Vardy’s King Power career 11 years ago when he made the striker the first £1million non-league player, moving from Fleetwood Town in 2012.

Vardy was the only player left in Leicester’s starting line-up from Pearson’s spell in charge.

“Whatever people think of Jamie, to still have the winning mentality he has at this stage of his career, is something that we should acknowledge,” said Pearson.

“Players like that bring qualities and standards, which you need to nurture. So to still have Jamie Vardy at Leicester is going to be a very important factor.”

Despite the result, Pearson admitted he was touched by the reception he received at the King Power Stadium.

“I can’t deny I had tears in my eyes, because it’s really good to see people again,” said Pearson, who attended the game on crutches due to a back problem.

“It means a lot. My family were here, my dad too because he used to love coming here and then going out for a smoke at half-time!

“He’s 89, I’ve got my grandchildren as well. It was a big part of our lives and it’s very touching to receive the respect I got shown. A nice story, but we still lost.”

Leicester made it three wins in successive games with a seventh league victory of the season.

This was also the first time since last October they had recorded a clean sheet at home in a league game.

“We struggled to find a goal but I was absolutely not worried because since minute one we created chances,” said Maresca.

“It was a good win. The only thing I asked them for the second half was to continue in the same way because we were good in the first half, we just missed a goal.

“Continuing the way we were playing for sure we would create more chances, and we won the game. If we continue to play in the way we play today, it’s good.”

Maresca admitted he wanted to gee the home supporters up when Leicester were trying to break down the Robins’ defence.

“It was the moment where the team was making a big effort – we needed a plus,” he added.

“We needed a little bit more. The idea was not to convince the fans, but to get them more with us because it was the right momentum to score the goal. The fans were brilliant today.

“This win was especially important because after two wins away against two important teams, you cannot relax. But this was a tricky game so I am happy with the performance. The players showed how professional and how serious they are working.”

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca hailed the contribution of veteran striker Jamie Vardy as the Foxes continued their flying start to the season with a 2-0 Carabao Cup victory at Tranmere.

Second-half strikes from Wilfred Ndidi and former England international Vardy proved the difference as the Championship side ran out 2-0 victors against their League Two opponents.

It was a sixth win out of six for Leicester in all competitions this season and saw 36-year-old Vardy open his account for the campaign after returning to the starting line-up.

Maresca said: “I’m happy to continue in this competition and I’m happy for the players, especially the young players who don’t play every week.

“I’ve been really happy with Jamie Vardy because when a striker scores they are always happy for them as well as the team.

“He’s been performing well when he starts and as well when he’s been on the bench and his contribution has been amazing.”

The Foxes enjoyed large amounts of possession in the opening stages of the second-round clash at Prenton Park and had a number of chances to open the scoring with Harry Winks coming the closest after seven minutes.

But the 2016 Premier League champions did not have it all their own way with Rovers growing in confidence and, after defending resolutely for half an hour, created some decent openings through Dan Pike and Josh Hawkes.

The deadlock was finally broken nine minutes after the break when Ndidi’s effort from the right side of the box found its way into the net via both posts, and just four minutes later Vardy put the result beyond doubt with a close-range header from an Ndidi cross.

Further chances fell to the visitors as Rovers pushed forward with Vardy and Ndidi who were both foiled by Joe Murphy, a veteran of the meeting between these two in the final of this competition at Wembley 23-years ago.

Maresca added: “I was not happy at half-time so made some changes and we’ve played six games in around 20 days and we have one more to go before the international break.

“We’ve won six from six now and all the attention now turns to the game on Saturday before the international break when some of the players can conserve their energy.”

Despite the defeat, Tranmere manager Ian Dawes was keen to focus on the positives from the encounter.

He said: “We knew going into the game today that they don’t make many changes, they go really strong and the manager takes the competition seriously.

“We knew we had to get our defensive organisation right and we knew we needed to limit their chances on goal and push up as the game went on.

“We had to stifle the game a little bit, keep possession and then make opportunities ourselves and I thought we did that really well and it all went to plan and they probably scored the first goal when we were on top.

“We’ve got to be positive at the end of it, it still hurts getting beat and we obviously wanted to go through, but you’ve got to look at what they’ve got on the pitch.

“You look at their team and they’ve still got Premier League players in their team and taking things into context we can be nothing but positive and we have to take that into Saturday against Wrexham.”

Leicester were made to work hard for their place in the third round of the Carabao Cup with a battling 2-0 win over Tranmere at Prenton Park.

Second-half strikes from Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy proved to be the difference as the Foxes weathered a number of early scares to overcome their League Two opponents.

The Foxes enjoyed much of the possession in the early stages and could have taken the lead as early as the seventh minute when Harry Winks’ long-range effort flew narrowly wide.

The 2016 Premier League champions continued to dominate with further chances as Cesare Casadei’s header flew narrowly over the Rovers crossbar.

The visitors did not have it all their own way, however, and having defended resolutely and frustrating their Championship opponents for large periods of the game, Tranmere almost took the lead themselves when Dan Pike’s 20-yard effort was pushed out by Jakub Stolarczyk in the Leicester goal.

But the pressure eventually told after 55 minutes when Ndidi’s effort from the corner of the box ended up in the back of the net via both posts.

And just four minutes later Leicester doubled their lead when Vardy was on the spot to force the ball home from close range following an Ndidi cross right in front of the huge travelling support to make the game safe.

It is now five wins out of five in all competitions for Enzo Maresca’s side who will be in the hat for the third-round draw having also won their opening four matches of the Championship campaign.

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