Leicester City moved up to second in the Premier League table - for a few hours - with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Aston Villa.
Brendan Rodgers gave his side one task: take all three points. And they delivered. From the moment the first whistle went, the Foxes pinned Villa back with a high-pressing brand of football.
James Maddison opened the scoring after only 19 minutes with a composed low shot from range that nestled into the corner of the net, the England international punishing Villa who had given him far too much time and space.
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Harvey Barnes then added a second less than five minutes later. Emi Martinez could not hold on to a venomous Jamie Vardy shot from inside the box, spilling it into the path of Barnes who reacted quickest to smash the ball into the back of the net.
Aston Villa came out quickly in the second half and grabbed a goal through Bertrand Traore, the forward doing well to get on the end of Matt Targett’s cross and sweeping past Kasper Schmeichel.
Despite Villa’s best efforts they did not look the same without captain Jack Grealish, who was out due to injury.
Leicester now have back-to-back home fixtures with Slavia Prague arriving for their Europa League second leg in midweek before Arsenal visit in the league. Meanwhile, next up for Villa is a trip to Elland Road to face Leeds United.
TALKING POINT - Grealish the difference
No matter what Dean Smith will say about other players having a chance when Jack Grealish is out, the fact of the matter is the midfielder turns Aston Villa into a different beast when he's in the side. They have averaged 1.5 points-per-game in league competition when he's featured compared to 0.9 points-per-game without him, losing all three Premier League matches without the Englishman since the start of last season.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Harvey Barnes (Leicester)
What a wonderful problem Gareth Southgate has on his hands as he plans for this year's European Championship. Sitting in the stands at Villa Park he watched on as Harvey Barnes tore Aston Villa apart with driving runs in behind their back line, showcasing boundless energy and vision to spot a team mate in space. Surely the young winger will be in contention with displays like the one he put on today.
Aston Villa: Martínez 6, El Mohamady 6, Konsa 6, Mings 6, Targett 6, Douglas Luiz 6, McGinn 6, Traoré 7, Barkley 6, El Ghazi 6, Watkins 6. Subs: Trézéguet 5, Sanson 5, Ramsey N/A.
Leicester City: Schmeichel 6, Ricardo Pereira 7, Evans 6, Söyüncü 6, Thomas 7, Tielemans 7, Ndidi 6, Castagne 7, Maddison 8, Barnes 9, Vardy 7. Subs: Mendy 5, Choudhury N/A, Amartey N/A.
James Maddison of Leicester City
Image credit: Getty Images
19' - GOAL! Villa 0-1 Leicester (Maddison): Maddison tucks the ball into the corner of the net from range. Villa simply gave him too much space and have been punished for it.
23' - GOAL! Villa 0-2 Leicester (Barnes): Barnes smashes the ball into the back of the net as he reacts quickly to a shot that is spilt by Martinez.
48' - GOAL! Villa 1-2 Leicester (Traore): Traore does brilliantly to react quickly as he gets a foot on Targett's cross which bounced past McGinn inside the box before coming to him. That's Villa's first shot on target.
59' - SAVE! Martinez gets across quickly to push Maddison's free-kick out for a corner
63' - CHANCE! Vardy just drags his shot wide of the post with a left footed shot.
90'+4 - CHANCE! Mings get his head on the cross, but his glancing header is just off target.
- Bertrand Traore has been directly involved in eight goals in the Premier League since his first league start for Aston Villa in November with five goals and three assists. Only Jack Grealish has been involved in more for the club in this period with 10
- Only Jamie Vardy (14) has scored more goals for Leicester this season than Harvey Barnes (13), who has now had a direct hand in nine goals in his last 11 Premier League matches (6 goals, 3 assists)
- Since his Premier League debut in August 2018, James Maddison has scored more goals from outside the area than any other player (11) - indeed, this was his eighth goal of the season, his best scoring campaign in the top-flight
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