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Vardy and Mahrez Wreak Havoc Again to Sink Chelsea

Leicester sealed an exhilarating, courageous victory, with brilliant goals from the players of the season in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

Published: 15th December 2015 07:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2015 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

chelsea vs leicester_AP

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, right, scores past Chelsea’s keeper Thibaut Courtois during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Chelsea at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England. | AP

LONDON: It was here at Leicester that Jose Mourinho effectively sealed the Premier League title seven months ago and it is here also that his fate as Chelsea manager might also have just been sealed.

Another defeat. Another crushing loss despite a rally that again proved far too late and simply not good enough. Another sign that Mourinho maybe cannot turn this ship around. They were champions-elect in late April and they are now stuck a single point above the relegation zone with, incredibly, a six-pointer against Sunderland to come this weekend. What a decline. What a collapse.

Leicester were fighting for their lives then and now they are fighting for the title themselves with this exhilarating, courageous victory, with brilliant goals from the players of the season in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, taking them deservedly back to the top.

They are nine points clear of fifth placed Tottenham Hotspur and firmly in the Champions League places. They are an incredible 20 points ahead of Chelsea.

This was delicious for Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester manager, who was sacked to make way for Mourinho at Chelsea back in 2004 and who now may be the man who is sending The Special One on his way. A special revenge then even if Ranieri will not say it. But he claimed it.

A nutmeg by Mahrez on Eden Hazard inside two minutes, followed by a feint that deceived John Terry on the edge of the penalty area and a shot that was saved by Thibaut Courtois, said it all. After the pre-match clappers by the supporters, Leicester started like the clappers. Like the team in form. The team brimming with belief and bringing it on. Again.

Those clappers continued. And so did the relentless pace of their team with Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante snapping into challenges and the ball being moved forward quickly in search of that man, Vardy, who had received a presentation pre-match for that remarkable Premier League record of scoring in 11 successive matches. They would not have to wait long for another.

The striker had left a message on the seats of each of the home fans thanking them for their support. "Hearing the roar of the crowd makes us believe anything is possible," it read and there was that sense reverberating around the stadium.

On the pitch no quarter was -given. It was committed; relentless. Three times Diego Costa hit the turf, claiming injustice, while the game continued with Terry body checking Mahrez as he again threatened to breeze past him.

Leicester then suffered the blow of losing Drinkwater to injury with a damaged hamstring. The first involvement of his replacement, Andy King, was to send the ball forward for Vardy to chase. Panic followed, a throw-in was conceded by Courtois and eventually Mahrez forced another save from the nervy goalkeeper.

Mourinho began with the team that had beaten Porto to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League which meant that he again consigned Cesc Fabregas to the substitutes bench. But it was Pedro who Mourinho turned to as he -suffered the significant set-back of losing Hazard to injury after he was caught by Vardy. Hazard tried, but failed, to continue.

If that caused some damage to Chelsea by Vardy then he soon inflicted even more. Yep, he scored. After one game the drought is over. It came as Chelsea lost the ball with Kante finding Leonardo Ulloa who ferried it wide to Mahrez. He was given time and space to curl in a -superb low cross that Vardy, -ghosting in between Terry and Kurt Zouma, volleyed carefully into the net from close-range. It was a superb finish although Terry was undoubtedly to blame as he had lost his man, lost his bearings.

The noise as the ball hit the net and Vardy peeled away in celebration was incredible. It was that Mahrez-Vardy combination yet again.

Chelsea were stung. Stung badly. But they won a corner and from it Nemanja Matic rose to turn a header goalwards. The ball just cleared the cross-bar before back came Leicester with Marc Albrighton, another continuing to impress, collecting possession and sending in a curling shot that Courtois held.

What did this Chelsea side what did Mourinho have left? Only Willian had, again, acquitted himself in that first-half. The answer came just three minutes into the re start with a quite wonderful goal from Mahrez who deftly cushioned a deep cross by Albrighton to twist and turn and twist and turn again, bamboozling Cesar Azpilicueta, and flighting an arcing left-foot shot around a stunned Courtois.

Mourinho had to do something and he did something radical by withdrawing Terry who had endured a terrible evening and bringing on Fabregas.

Finally Chelsea had a chance with Danny Simpson heading into Pedro's path but he recovered to clear -before the forward could shoot. Then Kasper Schmeichel saved with an outstretched boot as Costa was put clear by Fabregas.

Finally there was a lifeline. The substitutes combined and Loic Remy headed home, from inside the six-yard area, from Pedro's cross. There were five minutes of added time but it was not enough. Is Mourinho now on borrowed time?

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