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Leicester City’s astounding push for the Premier League title gathered further pace with a 3-1 win away to fellow challengers Manchester City.
The stunning performance from the Foxes, who had been amongst many pundits’ relegation favourites at the beginning of the campaign, ensures that Claudio Ranieri and his men will conclude the weekend at least five points clear at the top of the table.
Robert Huth’s deflected close-range effort gave Leicester an advantage three minutes into a first half that saw the visitors’ energetic, all-action attackers cause the home side a succession of problems.
However, City had plenty of their own opportunities during the first period, and they could well have been awarded a penalty kick when Christian Fuchs caught Pablo Zabaleta on the line of the box, but referee Anthony Taylor decided that the contact was just outside of the area.
A fantastic finish from Riyad Mahrez at the end of a Leicester breakaway doubled City’s arrears in the 48th minute, before Huth secured his brace and Leicester’s triumph with a header on the hour.
Sergio Aguero nodded home a late goal that should have been disallowed for offside but the concession mattered little to the triumphant travellers.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team, now six points behind the East Midlands outfit, will drop to fourth place should Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal both win this weekend.
Very early on at the Etihad Stadium, the Foxes hit the front when Huth’s attempt from Mahrez’s free-kick deflected off Martin Demichelis and beat Joe Hart, after the Algerian had been taken down by Aleksandar Kolarov.
Hart prevented Jamie Vardy from doubling Leicester’s lead following the England striker’s superb touch from Marc Albrighton’s excellent pass, before Shinji Okazaki narrowly failed to poke home Vardy’s low cross.
Overall, though, City had the better of the half’s chances. Amongst the regular pressure on the Leicester defence, David Silva side-footed a couple of yards wide and Huth’s flick denied Aguero what would almost certainly have been an equaliser.
Leicester took full advantage of the hosts’ prolificacy by doubling their lead as Mahrez, after N'Golo Kante had skipped through two attempted tackles and fed the attacker, lifted the ball past a sliding challenge, pulled a step-over to open up space, and drove a fine right-footed finish home from 20 yards.
Substitute Fernando should have pulled a goal back but his failure to generate the requisite power on a header from six yards allowed Kasper Schmeichel to keep out the attempt.
Again, City paid dearly for their failure in front of the target, as Huth rose highest to loop in a header from a Fuchs corner kick.
With City looking beaten, Leicester wasted several chances before home substitute Bersant Celina's cross was expertly glanced in by an offside Aguero at the other end late on.
Indeed, from a very poor Danny Simpson back-pass, Aguero could have set up an extremely tense finish, but the Argentine chose not to apply a first-time strike, took the ball away from goal and fired wide.
The Foxes were left to celebrate the addition of another fabulous chapter to what has been an incredible story thus far, and one that could yet end up being solidified amongst English football’s greatest tales.
By David Maher