LEICESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 24, (AFP): Leicester striker Jamie Vardy maintained his red-hot form as he scored in a seventh successive Premier League game to clinch a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Vardy bagged his 10th league goal of the season in the second half at the King Power Stadium to give Leicester their fifth top-flight win of the campaign and cement their surprising climb to fifth place.
The 28-year-old is the Premier League’s top scorer and his latest heroics continued a meteoric rise for the England international who was playing non-league football with Fleetwood only three years ago.
Now he is part of a select group of eight players, including Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Ian Wright and Ruud van Nistelrooy, to have netted in seven successive Premier League games.
Buoyed by yet another dramatic comeback, a Vardy-inspired 2-2 draw at Southampton last weekend, Leicester made a vibrant start against Palace and almost took the lead on three occasions in the space of two minutes.
Marc Albrighton’s scuffed shot bounced off a post with Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey wrong-footed before Riyad Mahrez dragged the rebound wide.
Vardy then stole possession from Brede Hangeland by the corner flag and hooked over a cross that was cleared from under the bar by Palace defender Adrian Mariappa.
Palace had already won three away games in the Premier League this term, including a shock success at champions Chelsea.
Yet Pardew’s team were well below their best and it took 37 mins before Yohan Cabaye brought Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel into action.
Swansea 2, Villa 1
In Birmingham, Andre Ayew scored a late winner for Swansea City as they snapped a five-match winless run in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over lowly Aston Villa on Saturday.
Jordan Ayew, the younger of the two Ayew brothers, scored his first goal in English football to give Villa a 62nd-min lead in Birmingham but Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised shortly after before Andre Ayew struck four minutes from time to complete the turnaround at Villa Park.
Defeat for Aston Villa, one of seven clubs to have played in every Premier League season since its inception in 1992, was the club’s sixth in a row and further increased the pressure on manager Tim Sherwood.
Villa have picked up just one point since the opening weekend of the season and remain mired in the relegation zone with just four points from 10 matches, with only Sunderland below them.
Victory for Swansea, the Welsh club’s first since stunning Manchester United 2-1 at the end of August, moved Garry Monk’s men up three places to 11th.
Gabriel Agbonlahor returned to Villa’s starting line-up after recovering from a calf problem while Leandro Bacuna was handed his first start in over a month by the under-fire Sherwood. Swansea made three changes to the side beaten at home by Stoke on Monday, with Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-yueng and Kyle Naughton all restored to the team.
Villa full-back Kieran Richardson had an early effort on goal as his third-minute free-kick was directed straight at Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
WBA 1, Norwich 0
In Norwich, West Brom moved up to eighth in the Premier League on Saturday after club record-signing Salomon Rondon’s powerful header lifted the Baggies to a deserved 1-0 win at Norwich.
Tony Pulis’s side arrived at Carrow Road in 13th but jumped five places on 14 points with Norwich remaining 16th.
An entertaining first period ended goalless but not for the lack of opportunities at both ends.
West Brom midfielder Chris Brunt had Canaries goalkeeper John Ruddy at full stretch to block his early long range effort.
Shortly after Ruddy’s opposite number Boaz Myhill did well to deny Nathan Redmond with a fine low save as the Baggies’ defence came under pressure, with Matt Jarvis proving a handful.
The first half ended in a flurry of activity with West Brom left to rue missed headers from Craig Dawson and Venezuelan striker Rondon.
But the former Zenit St Petersburg attacker only had to wait a handful of seconds after the restart before making up for that wasted opportunity.
Saido Berahino was at the root of the game-winning move, finding James McClean who crossed the ball for Rondon to head home past Ruddy.
With a quarter of an hour remaining Rondon, who moved to the Premier League in August in a £12 million ($19 million) signing, made way for Rickie Lambert, his work done.
Despite Norwich, routed 6-2 by Newcastle last weekend, facing a third straight Premier League defeat it was the Baggies who looked the more likely to score again.
West Brom meanwhile were celebrating their sixth cleansheet in 10 games.
Watford 2, Stoke 0
In Stoke-on-Trent, Troy Deeney scored his first Premier League goal as Watford ended a run of three league games without victory by winning 2-0 at in-form Stoke City on Saturday.
In manager Mark Hughes’ 100th game at the helm, Stoke were seeking to record a fourth consecutive league win for the first time since Dec 2011 in what was the two teams’ first top-flight encounter since April 1985.
But it was Quique Sanchez Flores’ side who prevailed at the Britannia Stadium as goals from Deeney and Almen Abdi gave Watford their first ever away win in the Premier League in the month of October.
Further spoiling Hughes’s day, he saw Watford move above Stoke, who fell three places to 14th in the table.
Deeney went into the game having had more attempts at goal without scoring than any other player in the division and he was quick to make a nuisance of himself, forcing Glen Johnson into a last-ditch block.
Stoke were forced into an early change when Geoff Cameron went off in the 10th min with an apparent thigh injury, which saw Marc Wilson came on, but they made most of the early running.
Charlie Adam twice went close from range, while Xherdan Shaqiri picked out Marko Arnautovic, only for his cross to strike the Austrian forward on the shoulder and fly over the crossbar.
But shortly before half-time, Watford sprang to life when Odion Ighalo and Deeney hit the bar in quick succession, and in the 42nd minute they went ahead.
Ighalo’s flick was collected by Deeney on the edge of the box and the Watford skipper took a touch before steering a low shot into the bottom-right corner.
Ighalo, Watford’s leading scorer with five goals, took an accidental boot to the head from Adam early in the second half, but after leaving the pitch for treatment he was able to continue.
The visitors continued to attack, with Ighalo and Ikechi Anya denied penalties, before Ighalo robbed Wilson and teed up Abdi to fire home at the near post in the 69th min and double Watford’s advantage.
Only a save by Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland prevented Juan Carlos Paredes making it 3-0, while Jon Walters, back after a groin injury, shot wide at the other end.