James Maddison scored twice as Leicester produced a relentless first-half display to beat Brighton and climb to third in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old struck twice before half-time, his second a sublime, curled finish into the top corner after he had slotted in from Jamie Vardy’s blocked shot.
Vardy, making a record-equalling 222nd Premier League appearance for the Foxes, scored his side’s second from James Justin’s low cross.
A breathless opening period had included great chances for both sides, as Mat Ryan denied Marc Albrighton inside the first five minutes and Kasper Schmeichel was equal to attempts by Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Danny Welbeck as Brighton threatened on the break.
With the points secured before the interval, Brendan Rodgers’ side comfortably saw out a much quieter second period to move one point behind Tottenham and Liverpool, after both were held to draws on Sunday.
Brighton remain 16th but are now just two points above the relegation places following Fulham’s draw against the champions.
Maddison hints at return to best in impressive win
Aware many of their expected top-four rivals had dropped points over the course of the weekend, Leicester’s motivation to take full advantage at the King Power Stadium was evident in their high-octane start.
Maddison’s first ever Premier League double and Vardy’s 10th goal of the campaign were deserved reward for a superb, free-flowing first-half display, in which the Foxes landed 13 shots at goal.
Vardy’s first opportunity came when his first-time hit from Justin’s excellent pass was saved by Ryan – and he also struck the post before making no mistake when the impressive Justin again delivered from the right.
Equalling Muzzy Izzet’s appearances tally, Vardy then teed up Maddison – whose sole England cap arrived over a year ago – for his excellent left-footed finish, which typified a performance indicative of a player nearing a return to his best.
Despite missing a number of key players to injury, defenders Caglar Soyuncu and Timothy Castagne among those still absent, Rodgers’ side continue to apply pressure at the summit in a start which has also seen them successfully juggle their Europa League commitments.
Converting their good start – reignited by this showing and Vardy’s late Bramall Lane winner last weekend that ended a four-game winless run – is a must for Leicester, after last season’s collapse which began over the Christmas period.
On this evidence, they are in good shape to do so ahead of key meetings with Everton, Tottenham and Manchester United in the next 13 days.
Brighton teeter above trouble
On the wrong end of a controversial VAR decision in defeat by Southampton at the start of the week, Graham Potter could have few complaints as his side were outclassed by superior opposition on Sunday night.
Brighton’s two wins from 12 this term represents their joint-fewest at this stage in the club’s top-flight history, and defeat sees the Seagulls pulled into trouble following positive results for Burnley and Fulham.
Former Ostersunds and Swansea City boss Potter, contracted until 2025, continues to attempt to mould this side in his second season, after his first resulted in the club’s highest ever Premier League points tally.
And though there is a commitment to a long-term project under Potter, there is now an urgency for Brighton to begin converting decent performances into victories.
Though this was not one of those occasions – the visitors threatening on the counter in the opening stages but dejected after Leicester’s first – there is a sense their performances have deserved more than the table suggests.
But after just one win in their past 10 league games, it is now time to deliver as they face two of the four sides below them in Fulham and Sheffield United next week.
‘Maddison has immense quality’ – what the managers said
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers to BBC Sport on James Maddison: “He has such quality. What makes it even better is he hardly trained at all this week. He had an issue with his knee so we took him out of our midweek game. You see his immense quality – his first goal and then to cut in [for his second]. He’s a fantastic player.
“The second half was about controlling the space and playing a bit more on the counter. We controlled the game well and showed our maturity. Our focus was very good and it’s a professional job.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter: “We have no complaints with the result. There were some big moments for us before they scored and we were playing quite well but the goal affected us.
“Pretty quickly you go from being fine to suffering. The response in the second half was very good but overall it wasn’t good enough to get the three points. The score is painful for us – there’s not many times that’s happened to us this season. We have to recover and go again.”
Leicester’s favourite fixture? – the stats
- Leicester are unbeaten in all seven Premier League meetings with Brighton – the most they have faced an opponent without losing in the competition.
- The Foxes scored three times in the first half of a Premier League game for the first time since scoring five against Southampton in October 2019.
- Leicester’s eight Premier League wins this season is the most in the division and represents their joint-highest number of victories after 12 games of a top-flight campaign, level with 2019-20.
- Since the start of the 2015-16 season, only Harry Kane (128) has scored more Premier League goals than Jamie Vardy (108).
- Vardy has been directly involved in 14 goals in 11 Premier League appearances for Leicester this season.
- Team-mate James Maddison scored his first ever Premier League double in his 78th appearance in the competition.
- Brighton’s two wins from their opening 12 Premier League games this season is their joint-fewest at this stage of a top-flight campaign. They also won two in 1979-80 and 1980-81.
Leicester, who learn their Europa League last-32 opponents in Monday’s draw, host Everton on Wednesday evening at 18:00 GMT.
Brighton are away to Fulham later that day (20:00).
Brighton & Hove Albion
- 6EvansBooked at 78mins
- 28FuchsBooked at 22mins
- 25NdidiSubstituted forMendyat 80′minutes
- 17PérezSubstituted forBarnesat 62′minutes
- 10MaddisonSubstituted forPraetat 75′minutes
- 33BurnBooked at 72mins
- 8BissoumaSubstituted forMac Allisterat 72′minutes
- 16JahanbakhshSubstituted forAlzateat 55′minutes
- 18WelbeckSubstituted forConnollyat 62′minutes
- 10Mac Allister
Match ends, Leicester City 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.
Second Half ends, Leicester City 3, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Solly March.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Joël Veltman.
Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Dan Burn.
Foul by Dennis Praet (Leicester City).
Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ben White (Brighton and Hove Albion).
James Justin (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Neal Maupay (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Attempt blocked. Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Pascal Groß with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Jonny Evans.
Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Steven Alzate (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Substitution, Leicester City. Nampalys Mendy replaces Wilfred Ndidi.
Marc Albrighton (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by James Justin.