Leicester manager Enzo Maresca described the 4-1 win at Blackburn as his side’s “most important” this season.

The Foxes returned to the Championship summit after a hard-fought victory, during which Maresca’s men were given a stern examination from their high-pressing opponents.

Wout Faes headed Leicester into a fourth-minute lead but Blackburn’s pressing yielded rewards five minutes later as they forced a mistake that Sammie Szmodics punished from close range.

Jamie Vardy’s clinical finish restored the lead and the Foxes pulled away from Blackburn late on, as Kelechi Iheanacho’s penalty and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s exquisite strike put the gloss on an impressive performance to move Leicester two points clear at the top following a fifth consecutive away league win.

Maresca praised Blackburn’s style of play and his side’s “personality”.

He said: “Probably the most important win today since we started. I was a bit worried because of the opponent.

“They are very good, probably in terms of the way they play, the best team we have played to date.

“A complicated opponent because sometimes the winger is outside, sometimes inside, full back sometimes outside, inside. It’s difficult to have a game plan off the ball, the way you want to press because they move a lot.

“As I said, probably the best win since we started. Probably, off the ball the last half an hour, we were much better.

“The first 10 minutes of the second half, we dropped, then we started again in the way we prepared the game. On the ball, we had some good moments, but probably the goal we conceded, we lost a bit of confidence. We need to learn and keep it going.

“Very happy for the personality we showed.”

Jon Dahl Tomasson felt the result was harsh on Blackburn, but lamented conceding “soft goals”.

He said: “We are extremely disappointed with the result. It doesn’t reflect the game. We knew it was going to be tough against a Premier League side with a lot of good players.

“I think we caused them plenty of problems in the first half, with great football, great movement, rotations. We gave two soft goals away in the first half.

“Second half, we were in the game, on top of the opponent when we got a big chance to score a goal. I think they only had four shots on target.

“Then in the end with the penalty of course, which by the way I think it’s a very soft penalty. You can give it, but you’d give 10 penalties in each game.

“Then the game was over. It is tough with the result. Great effort from the lads but of course gave some unnecessary goals away. We’re learning on the job.”

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.

Jurgen Klopp praised the impact of Dominik Szoboszlai at Anfield after the summer signing came off the bench to fire Liverpool into the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.

Liverpool had to come from behind to beat Championship leaders Leicester 3-1 after Kasey McAteer silenced Anfield just three minutes in.

But after Cody Gakpo equalised early in the second half, Szoboszlai struck an unstoppable shot in the 70th minute, moments after coming on, with Diogo Jota wrapping it up with a late goal of his own.

Szoboszlai’s rocket from the edge of the D was his second goal since his £60million summer switch from RB Leipzig and another marker into the impressive start the Hungarian has made on Merseyside.

“I don’t have to tell him to shoot, he knows that better than me,” Klopp said.

“He has a pretty good skill. The next (shot) he had which was slightly over was another grenade as well. It was a super goal.”

The ease with which Szoboszlai has made himself at home at Anfield has been key to the strong start Liverpool, second in the Premier League, have made in all competitions as they look to have solved many of the midfield problems that dogged them last season.

Asked if Szoboszlai had settled quicker than expected, Klopp said: “It’s so long ago that he’s here that I’ve forgotten what I thought but since the first minute of training it was pretty impressive.

“That’s how it is. He’s a top bloke, a top guy and it’s easy to step into the team and the dressing room and stuff like this.

“He’s a very naturally confident boy and that helps but it’s super hard work as well and that’s what you see today.”

The night started badly for Liverpool when Konstantinos Tsimikas’ early free-kick was cleared and the Greece defender was then left on the deck by Marc Albrighton as Leicester raced away to score.

But Klopp said what stood out to him was the way his players responded.

“The headline is that we are 1-0 down but it was a completely different goal – I’m not sure if it was a foul or not but we could have defended a bit better in that first moment, and then it’s a good pass and a good finish.

“Then it is all about the reaction. Our players responded well. We created massive chances that were difficult to miss, but we did, and the goalkeeper saved some and we hit the crossbar.

“How (we didn’t score) I have no clue but at half-time it was clear we were going to make sure we didn’t get frustrated. We were not really chasing the game but playing the game and that’s what the boys did. It was a top performance.”

It was only a second defeat of the season for Leicester as they chase an instant return to the top flight and Enzo Maresca said the performance was more important than the result.

“I’m very, very proud of the players because to come to this stadium against this opponent and to continue playing in the way we want to play I think they showed they were very brave,” he said.

“Even after 45 minutes when we were 1-0 up I was not focused on the result, it’s always important of course, but I told them before the game the focus for us is to go there and continue to play in the way we want.”

Dominik Szoboszlai’s superb strike helped Liverpool into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup as they came from behind to beat Championship Leicester 3-1.

The hosts were stunned when Kasey McAteer fired the Foxes in front in only the third minute.

But sustained pressure from Jurgen Klopp’s side eventually told as Cody Gakpo levelled before Szoboszlai came off the bench to put them in front with an unstoppable shot in the 70th minute.

Diogo Jota added a third in the 89th minute and it was no less than Liverpool, winners of this competition a record nine times, deserved after they poured forward in response to the early setback, having 27 attempts at goal in all.

McAteer’s early goal remained Leicester’s only shot on target by the final whistle.

Jurgen Klopp had made 10 changes to the side that beat West Ham 3-1 at the weekend to maintain their impressive start to the Premier League campaign but Enzo Maresca, whose side are top of the Championship as they eye an instant return to the top flight, matched him with just as many.

And the in-form visitors silenced the windswept Anfield crowd as a Liverpool free-kick turned into a Leicester goal.

Kostas Tsimikas’ delivery was punched clear and the Greece defender was left in a heap by Marc Albrighton as Yunus Akgun raced clear before slipping the perfect ball into the path of 21-year-old academy product McAteer, who had time to pick a spot for his fifth goal of the season.

A Liverpool response was guaranteed, but Wataru Endo, making his third start since joining from Stuttgart, fired a shot narrowly wide before Harry Souttar blocked Gakpo’s shot after neat passing cut open Leicester’s defence.

The following corner was worked short to find Jota at the far post but the Portuguese forward fell over the ball before Jakub Stolarczyk blocked Ben Doak’s shot as the 17-year-old picked up the pieces.

Doak then went even closer from the next corner, hitting the crossbar on the rebound as Stolarczyk could only parry a shot from Liverpool’s 20-year-old defender Jarell Quansah.

Gakpo thought he had equalised in the 22nd minute as he headed Tsimikas’ free-kick goalwards but Conor Coady – belatedly making his Leicester debut at his boyhood club following injury – scrambled it off the line.

A mistake from Ricardo Pereira led to Liverpool’s next opportunity as helost control inside the area and Harvey Elliott played in Gakpo, but his shot was deflected over.

Liverpool trailed at the break despite having 15 shots to Leicester’s two, but needed only three minutes of the second half to level.

Ryan Gravenberch, making his first Anfield start, fizzed in a pass to Gakpo, who stuck out a leg to control with his back to goal before twisting to find the bottom corner of the net.

Liverpool were firmly on top now and Gakpo should have had a second just before the hour, getting a glancing header on Elliott’s cross but watching it hit the underside of the crossbar and bounce down on to the line before Leicester cleared.

Both managers turned to their benches to strengthen, with Maresca sending on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Patson Daka, while Klopp called on Szoboszlai and Darwin Nunez.

Klopp was the manager to see his moves pay off as within five minutes of coming on, Szoboszlai unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top left-hand corner from the edge of the D.

Liverpool continued to pile on the pressure, and Jota sealed it in the 89th minute as he flicked Quansah’s low cross in off the inside of the post.

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.”

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson’s first return to Leicester City since leaving the club in 2015 ended in defeat with a 1-0 victory for his former team who moved back to the top of the Championship.

The match-winning goal came from Jamie Vardy, a player Pearson brought to the King Power Stadium 13 years ago.

When Pearson was in charge, for his second spell at the club, he kept Leicester up in their first season back in the Premier League before being sacked that summer. But he was credited with building the core of Claudio Ranieri’s squad that went on to win the Premier League title in 2016.

Now manager of Bristol City, Pearson came back to Leicester on crutches due to a back problem. But there were to be no celebrations as Vardy’s 67th-minute penalty, after Kai Naismith had brought down Wilfred Ndidi, set up Leicester’s seventh Championship win of the season, and their third in successive games.

Stephy Mavididi set the tone for the game after three minutes when he volleyed just wide from the edge of the area.

But Bristol frustrated Leicester after that, inviting Enzo Maresca’s men to break them down.

Abdul Fatawu, making his first start since joining Leicester on loan from Sporting Lisbon, produced a powerful drive after cutting in from the right, but goalkeeper Max O’Leary did well to parry the shot.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall then saw a goalbound shot blocked by Robins defender Kai Naismith after 30 minutes.

But, for all their possession, Leicester were let down by some poor decision making in the Bristol area.

Leicester maintained their pressure in the second half and almost took the lead after 55 minutes.

Fatawu’s cross was met by Dewsbury-Hall, whose close-range header was pushed out by O’Leary, and when Mavididi followed up, he had his shot blocked. A minute later, O’Leary had to be alert again to keep Mavididi out.

Pearson then made a triple substitution just before the hour mark.

But Leicester took the lead after 66 minutes when Ndidi was brought down by Naismith in the penalty area and Vardy converted from the penalty spot.

The striker then ran towards the travelling Bristol supporters, who had been taunting him before his penalty, and pointed to the name on his back.

It was a goal that relieved some of the tension at the King Power Stadium against a side that did not manage a shot on target until the final kick of the game.

Vardy’s goal was his third in the last five game in all competitions. But Jason Knight almost responded with an equaliser as his shot sailed narrowly over the crossbar.

Leicester had one last anxious moment as Bristol substitute Taylor Gardner-Hickman’s free-kick was comfortably held by goalkeeper Mads Hermansen.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca was impressed with the way his side coped with a stern challenge as they edged to a 2-0 win at Norwich to maintain their excellent start to the Championship season.

Maresca’s team have now won six of their seven league games to lie second in the embryonic table but they were made to work hard for their success by a home side who had won all their games at Carrow Road before this one.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Kasey McAteer struck for the Foxes.

“I am very pleased with our performance because of the opponents we were up against,” he said.

“I have watched all their games and they usually score goals – 15 I think – so I am very pleased to come away with a win and a clean sheet.

“We had to work very hard for the points – I said to the lads afterwards that you can work on the way you play, the way you defend but you also have to have the desire out there on the pitch.

“The way the team defended was unbelievable, clearing the ball from corners and second and third phase play and that made all the difference tonight.”

Maresca made five changes to the side that won at Southampton last time out, with Jamie Vardy and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall among the players left on the bench, and he was delighted with the way the new-look line-up coped.

He said: “It’s a 46-game season and you can’t just rely on a small group of players. You need at least 20 and I want to get them all involved. You can’t just play in every game.

“It was tough because they went man for man, which meant our keeper (Mads Hermansen) saw a lot of the ball and he played an important role for us when we played out, and he also made a great save – I think he is the complete keeper.”

A tight match was settled by late goals in either half, with Leicester getting their noses in front in the 44th minute through Iheanacho’s penalty.

Referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot when Stephy Mavididi went down under a challenge from Christian Fassnacht and Iheanacho did the rest, despite a valiant effort from keeper Angus Gunn.

The Foxes had to withstand plenty of pressure after that, with Hermansen making a terrific reaction save to keep out a close-range header from Shane Duffy and Kenny McLean hitting the underside of the crossbar with a well judged chip.

But a well drilled defence stood firm and Leicester sealed the points in the 87th minute when Dewsbury-Hall squared for an unmarked McAteer to tap home.

Norwich head coach David Wagner felt hard done by afterwards.

“We are obviously disappointed to lose but I am fine with the performance – it was top class,” he said.

“I am unhappy we twice gave the ball away in the lead-up to the penalty but apart from that I am very pleased with the way we played.

“We were the better side in the second half and created three or four very good opportunities but unfortunately we were not clinical enough. The lads battled hard, never gave up and in the end were beaten by a quality side so we move on.

“I think Leicester will finish top this season and the rest of the teams will be battling for the other positions. It’s tough to take but I have every faith in this group of players going forwards.”

Striker Ashley Barnes limped off early in the second half and Wagner added: “It looks like knee ligaments and we will know more after a scan tomorrow. Hopefully it is not too serious but we have strength in depth now which is good.”

Leicester moved back into the top two of the Championship with a hard-fought 2-0 win at Norwich.

The Canaries had won all three of their previous games at Carrow Road this season and proved to be spirited opponents on a miserable evening in Norfolk.

But the visitors turned in a disciplined display to take all three points, with a Kelechi Iheanacho penalty on the stroke of half-time and a late tap-in from Kasey McAteer securing a sixth win in seven games for Enzo Maresca’s men.

A dull first half sprung to life in the dying minutes, with Leicester edging in front from the penalty spot.

Dangerman Stephy Mavididi set up the opener by bursting clear down the left flank and racing into the area, where his progress was halted by a shove in the back from Christian Fassnacht.

Referee Graham Scott pointed straight to the spot and Iheanacho did the rest, with Angus Gunn unable to keep out his well struck penalty despite getting a hand to it.

Moments later Mavididi was through again and this time he managed to get in a shot himself, with a curling effort drifting just wide of the far post.

Earlier both sides had struggled to create openings as they sought to build patiently from the back.

Fassnacht had a couple of shots for the Canaries, the latter drawing a comfortable save from Mads Hermansen, while defender Wout Faes went close with a pair of headers for the Foxes.

Despite losing striker Ashley Barnes to injury Norwich looked the side more likely to score early in the second period, although they again struggled to create decent openings.

The visitors seemed content to sit back and rely on the occasional counter-attack, with Gunn seeing precious little action.

Norwich continued to press and almost drew level in the 71st minute when it needed a superb reaction save from Hermansen to keep out a close-range header from Shane Duffy, who was picked out by a pinpoint cross from substitute Onel Hernandez.

They came even closer a few minutes later when Kenny McLean shipped an effort against the underside of the bar following a poor clearance from the otherwise excellent keeper.

It was all Norwich now, with Gabriel Sara brushing the side-netting with a 25-yard free-kick, although McAteer should have sealed it for the Foxes with a free header at the back post.

McAteer made up for that glaring miss by wrapping up the points for Leicester in the 87th minute.

A slick move ended with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall one on one with Gunn and instead of shooting the substitute squared for his unmarked colleague to side-foot home into an empty net.

Southampton manager Russell Martin insists Leicester should be criticised as much as his side despite winning 4-1 at St Mary’s.

Saints conceded after 21 seconds to a thumping Jamie Vardy finish before Kasey McAteer, Wilfred Ndidi and Stephy Mavididi also netted as the Foxes ran riot.

But Martin, who saw Sam Edozie pull one back and Kamaldeen Sulemana sent off late on, thinks the result did not reflect the two sides’ performances.

He said: “It is a very different feeling to Sunderland (5-0 defeat). I am proud of the players, people will criticise me for saying that but they did what we asked of them.

“I take loads from that and it was a much better performance than Sunderland.

“If anyone expected there not to be any pain when it is such a big change then they are very naive.

“Leicester lost the ball as much as we did but they have come out on the right end of the scoreline so Enzo (Maresca) will not get criticised.

“I asked the players to go toe to toe with a really good team and I thought it was a very good game.

“We made life difficult for ourselves by conceding two early goals. They were really clinical and we weren’t. They took their chances and we didn’t.

“People can read what they want into it but if we took our chances it is a very different scoreline.

“It was a tough atmosphere which I understand because we were 2-0 down in 20 minutes.

“They have to do their best to shut that out. But the only way we can get them off our backs is to win games and make everyone feel positive.

“On Tuesday both the fans and the players have a choice about how to approach it. The supporters have the choice of coming to support or causing anxieties.

“They have been great since I’ve been here and I’d have been annoyed if we had started like we did and lost.”

Vardy’s opener, his first in the Championship this season after Mavididi’s fine pull back, was followed quickly by McAteer controlling and slotting in after Saints gave the ball away in midfield.

Edozie bagged his second of the campaign but Ndidi’s finish handed the Foxes back their two-goal advantage before the interval, with Mavididi getting the goal his performance deserved in the 67th minute.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca said: “I am very happy. Winning the game is always important, it is never easy but the performance on and off the ball was very good.

“Sometimes like tonight we were a little more clinical and more clear in our decision-making.

“Since day one we have arrived quite well in the last third but we miss the right choices and aren’t patient, but tonight it worked better.

“We still need to improve and add new solutions. I don’t like basketball games. We know they want the same way of playing as us – keep the ball and try to win. So we knew we couldn’t control the game for 90 minutes.

“The way we worked off the ball, how aggressive we were, was the key point.

“Stephy is an important player for us but tonight was a good performance from all the players.”

Jamie Vardy grabbed his first Championship goal of the season as Leicester climbed to the top of the table with a 4-1 thrashing of Southampton.

Vardy needed just 21 seconds to open the scoring before Kasey McAteer, Wilfred Ndidi and Stephy Mavididi made things dominant for the Foxes despite Sam Edozie’s goal.

Leicester and Southampton were the Championship’s favourites for promotion after their Premier League relegation last season.

Both had started with four matches unbeaten – including four wins for the Foxes – before suffering shock defeats before the international break.

As stunned as Southampton were at losing 5-0 to Sunderland, it was doubled by being behind inside a minute.

Former England striker Vardy made his first start since the opening day of the campaign and pounced in his trademark style after Mavididi had got in behind and pulled back.

Saints were lucky not to concede when Taylor Harwood-Bellis gave away the ball in his own area, but it was no surprise when Will Smallbone and Kyle Walker-Peters lost concentration and handed the ball over to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

The midfielder fed McAteer who controlled and finished past Gavin Bazunu in style in the 25th minute.

Che Adams had teed up Edozie only for the winger to air-kick before forcing Foxes keeper Mads Hermansen into a fine diving save.

The frontman caught Callum Doyle dithering in midfield and threaded a through ball to Edozie, who calmly clipped in his second professional goal.

The away side desperately pushed to regain their two-goal advantage.

Ndidi had a shot pushed behind by Bazunu, before the Irishman twice denied Mavididi’s weak efforts.

Mavididi proved his main skill was providing as he used his strength to turn a defender and then his vision to pick out Ndidi – who prodded in his first league goal since January 2021.

Southampton improved after being booed off at half-time, but had to wait until the 60th minute for a gilt-edged chance. Top scorer Adam Armstrong almost hit the back row of the stand from seven yards.

At the other end, Mavididi got clean through but used the outside of his boot to hit off target.

He did not miss next time, the summer signing from Montpellier led a three versus one break, ran around Smallbone and rolled past Bazunu.

It was the former Arsenal youngster’s second goal for the Foxes.

St Mary’s began to empty for the last half an hour, with the home fans missing more misplaced passes, ole’s from the travelling end and Kamaldeen Sulemana dismissed.

The winger was shown a straight red card for jumping in on James Justin deep into stoppage time.

Leicester continued their fairytale with a 3-0 victory over Club Brugge in their first ever Champions League match, on this day in 2016.

Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes were still riding high after their stunning Premier League title triumph the previous season when they headed to Belgium.

Marc Albrighton opened the scoring early in the first half, with Riyad Mahrez doubling their advantage from a free-kick before adding a third from the penalty spot in the second half.

Leicester would go on to reach the quarter-finals, eventually being knocked out by Atletico Madrid 2-1 on aggregate.

Ranieri was sacked the day after their 2-1 last-16 first-leg defeat in Seville, with Craig Shakespeare overseeing a 2-0 second-leg win before the defeat to Atletico.

The Foxes went on to secure FA Cup glory in 2021 under Brendan Rodgers but were relegated to the Championship last season, seven years after being crowned Premier League champions.

Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was killed in a 2018 helicopter crash, would “never have risked his life in this machine” if he knew safety processes had not been taking place, according to his son.

Mr Vichai and four others died when the Leonardo AW169 plummeted to the ground outside the club’s King Power Stadium on October 27, 2018, shortly after taking off from the pitch.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) stated that the crash was caused by the pilot’s pedals becoming disconnected from the tail rotor as a component – a bearing – seized amid a build-up of pressure.

Investigators listed a series of contributory factors, such as Italian company Leonardo failing to share test flight results with the bearing manufacturer to confirm the type chosen was suitable for use in the aircraft.

Leonardo also did not require routine inspections of bearings to confirm they were in the condition expected against their original design.

The AAIB stressed that Leonardo did not need to take either of those actions under “regulatory requirements and guidance”.

Mr Vichai’s son, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, who became Leicester chairman after his father’s death, said: “I am deeply saddened by the course of events.

“Almost five years after my father’s passing, this report provides concerning evidence against Leonardo.

“My father trusted that he had bought a safe helicopter from a world-renowned manufacturer.

“Had he known what we know now he would never have risked his life in this machine.

“The pain this causes me and my family is immeasurable and, as a family, we continue to struggle every day with our grief at the loss of my father.

“He was a great inspiration to me personally and we all loved him very much.”

A Leonardo spokeswoman said: “The AAIB has not directed any recommended actions to Leonardo.

“The AAIB final report rightly concludes that Leonardo complied with all regulatory requirements in both the design and manufacture of the AW169.”

The other people killed in the crash were Leicester employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz, who was also a professional pilot.

The AAIB’s 209-page report ruled out pilot error as a possible cause.

Litigation firm Stewarts said it has been retained by the families of Mr Vichai, Mr Swaffer and Ms Lechowicz.

Mr Vichai’s family are “considering their legal recourse against Leonardo” and “litigation has already been commenced in Italy” on behalf of the families of Mr Swaffer and Ms Lechowicz, it added.

Peter Neenan, a partner at Stewarts, described the report as “a frightening tale of missed opportunities” and claimed the crash was “an accident waiting to happen”.

Mr Swaffer’s mother, Deborah Sutton, said: “This, of course, is every mother’s worst nightmare and time is not healing.

“Eric and Izabela were an inseparable couple, devoted to each other and to their flying.

“Without them, there is an enormous hole in our lives. I think of them daily and miss them more than I can say.”

Ms Lechowicz’s sister, Kate Lechowicz, said: “My sister and Eric were such bright lights in my life, we shared many adventures, but they had so many more plans and dreams to accomplish.

“The outreach from friends across the aviation industry showed how they were respected, but the comments showed they were also well loved.

“Having recently bought their dream home, they were embarking on a new chapter in their lives – and were putting more time into animal welfare and other causes close to their hearts.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, Foxes chief executive Susan Whelan said: “We commend the extensive and detailed body of work undertaken by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and welcome the publication of its report, in the hope it will contribute positively to the continued development of future aviation standards and safety.

“The tragic events of 27 October, 2018, will forever be etched into the memory of the Leicester City family. It was a night we experienced the devastating loss of our beloved chairman, friends, colleagues, and family members.

“Yet, in our grief, a sense of unity and strength was forged. The extraordinary support and kindness that was extended to those affected, by communities across Leicestershire, football and the wider world will never be forgotten.

“As we near the fifth anniversary of the accident, the families and loved ones of Khun Vichai, Kaveporn, Nusara, Eric and Izabela remain always in our thoughts, as those we lost remain always in our hearts.”

The pilot of the helicopter involved in a crash which killed Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha almost five years ago said “I’ve no idea what’s going on” as the aircraft was turning out of control.

Eric Swaffer, 53, made the comment seconds before the helicopter hit the ground outside the club’s King Power Stadium on October 27, 2018, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) revealed.

Srivaddhanaprabha, employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, Mr Swaffer and his partner, Izabela Roza Lechowicz – also a professional pilot – were all killed in the accident, which happened shortly after the helicopter took off from the pitch.

The Leonardo AW169 helicopter reached an altitude of approximately 430ft before plummeting to the ground.

The pilot’s pedals became disconnected from the tail rotor, investigators found.

This resulted in the aircraft making a sharp right turn which was “impossible” to control.

The AAIB described this as “a catastrophic failure”, causing the helicopter to spin quickly, approximately five times.

As the helicopter was turning out of control, a shout of: “Hey, hey, hey!” came from the rear cabin, where Mr Vichai and his employees were seated, the AAIB said.

Mr Swaffer, who was a highly experienced pilot, responded by saying: “I’ve no idea what’s going on” and “uttered an exclamation”, according to the report.

He “performed the most appropriate actions” which included raising a lever to reduce the helicopter’s pitch angle and “cushion the impact”, the AAIB said.

The aircraft landed on a concrete step, coming to a rest on its left side.

Four of the five occupants survived the initial impact, but no-one survived due to the helicopter catching fire within a minute following a major fuel leak.

The crash occurred around an hour after a Premier League match between Leicester and West Ham.

The AAIB inquiry found that the control system failed because a bearing in the tail rotor broke up due to its ceramic balls sliding rather than rolling, due to a build-up of pressure.

Asked if this was “an accident waiting to happen”, Adrian Cope, AAIB senior inspector for engineering told reporters: “It was a process which built up continuously.

“The damage in that bearing built up over a period of time.”

Inspection of the bearing was only required once it has been used for 400 hours, but the helicopter had only been flown for 331 hours when the accident happened.

One of the “contributory factors” for the crash was that regulations do not require maintenance checks to review the condition of used bearings against their original design, the AAIB said.

The 209-page report ruled out drone involvement and pilot error.

The AAIB’s chief inspector of air accidents Crispin Orr said: “The AAIB has carried out an extensive investigation to establish why the accident happened and how safety can be improved.”

Authorities from Canada, France, Italy and the United States were also involved in the investigation because of where various significant components were manufactured.

The AAIB made eight safety recommendations to the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) – whose rules for aircraft certification are mirrored by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK – to “address weaknesses or omissions” in regulations for certifying helicopters.

These deal with the design, validation and monitoring of safety critical components.

Other changes were made to the AW169 and AW189 fleets by the manufacturer and Easa as investigators became aware of issues.

A statue of Mr Vichai was unveiled at the stadium in April last year.

Enzo Maresca felt his Leicester side should have been more clinical after surrendering their 100 per cent start to the season when going down 1-0 to Hull at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes had 21 shots on goal, but still suffered their first defeat of the season.

A 15th-minute goal from Liam Delap proved enough to give Liam Rosenior’s team victory.

Maresca felt Leicester should have made more of the game, but in the end, they only had one shot on target.

However, he said there was “no drama” following a result which saw Leicester knocked off the top of the table.

“We cannot think we’re not going to lose a single game this season,” said Maresca. “We’ve played seven matches so far, and you’d said to me at the start that we’re going to win six and lose one, I’d have accepted it.

“But we need to judge results, we probably deserved something more but it didn’t happen. So we keep going, it’s not a drama.

“We probably needed to be a bit more clinical when you shoot more than 20 times. But we started in the right way before they scored.

“Then we lost a little bit of control. In the second half, we were aggressive and in control. But sometimes this can happen. In the second half, there is nothing to say other then we needed to score.”

Hull manager Liam Rosenior said he would still have been “proud” of his side’s display even if they had conceded late on.

He said: “We came here with bravery, we were fearless and we wanted to play our way. We changed our press because Leicester are an outstanding team. But at the end, we were throwing our bodies on the line. We didn’t want Leicester to have any rhythm.”

Rosenior highlighted the performance of defender Alfie Jones as Hull frustrated Leicester.

“For a centre half to be asked to play against Kelechi Iheanacho one for one on the back line, he was immense, I don’t normally single out players, but his performance was everything I want from a centre half,” said the Hull manager.

“He was magnificent and it was a joy to watch him.”

But Rosenior also praised Delap for his second goal of the season.

He added: “He’s scaring the life out of defenders at the moment, I said it when we signed him, I think he suits this style of play.

“For me, he’s enjoying it here, he’s got so much work to do and there’s so much room for improvement in his game. But his physical attributes and his technical stuff is absolutely top. I’m so delighted he’s with us.

“I think we earned the result. When you come away from home, you don’t expect to get the rub of the green, but I felt a lot more decisions went Leicester’s way than maybe they should’ve done.

“We were better here with the ball, this result leaves us with in a really good place, we have aims and ambitions this season, but there’s a long way to go.”

Liam Delap’s first-half strike brought an end to Leciester’s 100 per cent start to the Sky Bet Championship season and earn Hull a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

It was also Leicester’s first defeat of the campaign in all competitions as Manchester City loanee Delap’s goal was enough to give Hull their third league win of the campaign.

The closest Enzo Maresca’s side came to an eqauliser was when second-half substitute Abdul Fatawu hit the post.

But it was a result that knocked the promotion favourites off the top of the Championship table, on a day when they had been hoping to stretch their winning run to seven games.

Leicester started strongly and captain Ricardo Pereira sent a shot from inside the area just wide of the upright.

But it was Hull who took the lead after 15 minutes when Delap cut in from the right and delivered a shot which took a deflection off Leicester defender Jannik Vestergaard to keep it out of goalkeeper Mads Hermansen’s reach.

Leicester were frustrated for long spells as Kelechi Iheanacho saw a handball appeal turned down, and Harry Winks floated a shot just over the bar from 20 yards out.

In first half stoppage time Iheanacho saw a shot cleared off the line by Hull midfielder Regan Slate after a mix-up with goalkeeper Matt Ingram. But the Leicester striker had already been flagged offside.

Leicester manager Maresca made a triple substitution seven minutes into the second half, but Hull should have had a second goal soon after when Delap supplied Aaron Connolly in the 18-yard box, but he put his shot over the bar.

One of Maresca’s substitutes then came close to putting Leicester level after 62 minutes. Winger Fatawu, who joined on loan from Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, curled a shot against the base of the post.

But Hull were still looking for a second goal and Hermansen had to parry a Cyrus Christie shot over the bar, before the Leicester goalkeeper saved at his near post from Scott Twine.

Maresca brought on Jamie Vardy with 22 minutes to go, but Leicester still struggled to find a way through the Hull defence.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.