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Vardy equals record as Leicester go top; Liverpool stun City

Vardy equals record as Leicester go top; Liverpool stun City

LONDON: Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy equalled a Premier League record by scoring for the 10th straight match as they went top with a 3-0 win at Newcastle United before Manchester City were crushed 4-1 by Liverpool on Saturday.

On a day when English football paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks, Leicester became the third team in five hours to top the table after Manchester United also briefly led following their 2-1 victory at Watford in the early kickoff.

Manchester City, leaders at the start of the day, conceded three goals in the first 32 minutes as Liverpool got their most impressive win yet under new coach Juergen Klopp, while Arsenal also blew an opportunity by losing 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion with Santi Cazorla missing a late penalty to tie the game.

Leicester reaching the summit was the highlight of a poignant afternoon when ‘La Marseillaise’, the French national anthem, was played at grounds throughout England to honour the 130 people killed in last week’s Paris attacks.

Chelsea’s French defender Kurt Zouma led a rendition of the anthem at Stamford Bridge where a huge French flag was displayed before the champions ended a run of three successive league defeats with victory a 1-0 over Norwich City thanks to Diego Costa’s second-half goal, easing some pressure on manager Jose Mourinho.

That lifted Chelsea up one place to 15th on 14 points, but still a long way behind leaders Leicester who have 28 followed by United on 27 with City and Arsenal level on 26.

Leicester only narrowly avoided relegation after a sensational finish to last season, but are upstaging England’s major powers after 13 games of this campaign.

While Vardy equalled former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 12-year-old record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games, Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki also scored for Claudio Ranieri’s side.

Dutchman Van Nistelrooy had set the record in the last eight matches of the 2002-03 season and the first two of 2003-04.

The top-flight record is held by Stan Mortensen, who scored in 11 successive matches for Blackpool in the old Division One in 1950-51 and Vardy will equal that if he scores against Manchester United in what is now a top-of-the-table match next weekend.

Vardy picked up where he left off two weeks ago, shrugging off an injury that forced him to withdraw from England duty last week to score in first-half injury time with a low shot inside the near post at St James’ Park.

“I’ve managed to get there, let’s see what happens next week,” said Vardy, who was sent a good-luck tweet by Van Nistelrooy ahead of the match.

He was playing non-league football only four seasons ago, but is currently the top scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals and reportedly attracting lots of interest from top clubs.

Ulloa’s header made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute before Japanese substitute Okazaki assured Leicester’s victory seven minutes from time.

On a day England put on a show of solidarity with France, Olivier Giroud — one of 72 Frenchmen playing in the Premier League — put Arsenal ahead only for James Morrison to equalise before an own goal by Arsenal substitute Mikel Arteta in the 40th minute.

Cazorla missed a penalty in the 84th when he slipped as he was about to shoot to complete a miserable day for Arsenal.

It was just their third league defeat this season and hardly ideal preparation for their must-win Champions League group match at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.

“Overall it was a bad day,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “We scored an own goal, missed a penalty and missed a lot of chances. It is very disappointing.”

In a stunning first-half display of high pressing and livewire attacking, Liverpool cruised into a 3-0 lead inside 32 minutes through an Eliaquim Mangala own-goal and two beautifully worked goals by Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

City’s Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, returning from injury, pulled one back brilliantly just before halftime with a 20-yard effort for Manuel Pellegrini’s men but Martin Skrtel sealed Liverpool’s emphatic triumph with a thunderous 81st-minute strike.

Having lost just once in eight matches since German Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool now lie ninth in the table on 20 points.

“It feels perfect! The game was not perfect but it was very good,” Klopp told the BBC. “The boys can believe now that they are stronger than many people think.”

Everton crushed Aston Villa 4-0 with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku each scoring twice to leave Villa rock bottom with five points from 13 games.

Stoke striker Bojan Krkic gave his side a 1-0 win away to Southampton while Swansea City and Bournemouth drew 2-2 in an exciting match at the Liberty Stadium.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2015

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