Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (3R) is congratulated after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on April 29, 2017. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Wilfred Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton were on target as Leicester City defeated Watford 3-0 to record a fifth successive Premier League home win on Saturday.
Ndidi bagged his third goal of the season and Mahrez netted his 10th as the Premier League champions moved to 43 points to end any lingering relegation worries.
Albrighton notched his fourth of the season in stoppage time to cap an excellent individual display.
It was a comfortable exercise for Craig Shakespeare’s men, who now look like serious contenders for a top-half finish having spent much of the season flirting with relegation.
The result bolstered Shakespeare’s claims to keep the manager’s job for next season after replacing sacked Claudio Ranieri earlier this year.
Watford are also all but safe with 40 points, but the defeat was their fifth in a row without a goal away from home in the league and adds to the growing pressure on boss Walter Mazzarri.
Early on, Albrighton raced onto a quick free-kick for Leicester and tried to engineer a shooting chance but was crowded out.
A minute later the Hornets needed defender Adrian Mariappa to intervene to prevent a certain goal for the Foxes.
A quick free-kick from Mahrez found Jamie Vardy, whose darting run and cross looked set to provide Shinji Okazaki with a tap-in.
But Mariappa got an outstretched foot to the ball and diverted it onto the post.
Next it was Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes’ turn to prevent a bizarre own goal opening the scoring.
He flew to his left to turn away a header by defender Christian Kabasele from a Christian Fuchs cross.
Watford might have opened the scoring 10 minutes before half time when Tom Cleverley let fly from 25 yards and forced Kasper Schmeichel into an important save away to his right.
– Confidence –
The hosts took the lead shortly before the break thanks to Ndidi’s second Premier League goal.
A short corner found Danny Drinkwater, whose cross was dealt with poorly by Sebastian Prodl and then Etienne Capoue.
And when the ball broke free, Ndidi blasted it home from less than 10 yards.
Mahrez almost added a second moments later when he hit a shot that struck the heel of Cleverley and looped onto the crossbar.
Just five minutes into the second half Vardy should have doubled Leicester’s lead when he raced onto Okazaki’s perfectly weighted pass.
But he shot too close to Gomes. A minute later Stefano Okaka got to the far post to meet a cross by Nordin Amrabat for Watford but his header looped over.
Leicester finally got their second goal on 58 minutes thanks to the skill of Mahrez and a poor mistake from Mariappa.
Vardy flicked on Schmeichel’s long clearance, Mariappa failed to bring the ball under control and Mahrez pounced, skipping in from the right and poking a low shot under Gomes.
Watford rallied briefly and Schmeichel had to make a decent save, high to his left, to keep out M’Baye Niang’s curling effort.
But Leicester added their third in the dying seconds as Vardy scampered towards goal and squared for Albrighton to score off the base of the post.