Glorious day for Vardy as City lose plot at the back

Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates with teammates Youri Tielemans after scoring his hat-trick and his sides third goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at Etihad Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Manchester, England.

Only two players have scored hat-tricks against a Pep Guardiola side. Ever. One is Lionel Messi. The other is Jamie Vardy - and he has now done it twice.

This was an extraordinary performance from the 33-year-old Leicester striker as Manchester City slumped to a careless, error-strewn defeat that, even this early, feels damaging.

They were guilty of a rare level of complacency. It was also, for the first time in 686 games as a manager, that Guardiola had seen his side concede five goals.

It was that seismic. In fact, the last time City let in so many goals they were still playing games at Maine Road and that was before Sheikh Mansour had even heard of the club (February 2003).

They can pass the ball as much as they like, they can dominate possession (72 per cent) but if they cannot defend then they will be undone again this season. It was evident in each of the goals City conceded.

Vardy dominated City's central defender Eric Garcia - 14 years his junior - who may well be Barcelona-bound once City complete their signing of Benfica's Ruben Dias and the sale of Nicolas Otamendi. 

Maybe Garcia will not come up against a forward like Vardy in La Liga and while City had the partial mitigation of a horrible, extensive list of a dozen absent players they were party to their own undoing.

For Leicester, it is now three wins from three league games, their best start to a league campaign, as they went to the top of the table, but this was by far their most impressive performance and not least because they fell behind and, for 20 minutes, looked like they were going to be overwhelmed.

Instead, Vardy scored two penalties which sandwiched a sumptuous goal that had given Leicester the lead. James Maddison, coming off the bench, claimed a fine strike and the rout was completed by Youri Tielemans with another spot kick once Vardy had already been substituted.

Vardy's two penalties were taken with aplomb - one high to Ederson's right, the other low to the goalkeeper's left - after he had earned them both with his intelligent running which exploited the vulnerability of City's defence with new £41m signing Nathan Ake partnering Garcia and both full-backs, Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, appearing liabilities.

The Vardy penalties also mean that he has scored four spot kicks this season and that since his Premier debut in August 2014 no player has won more penalties (19) or scored more (22).

It was that kind of game. Records tumbled all around us. England manager Gareth Southgate was in attendance and will have been given further food for thought as to whether, come next summer at the European Championship, it might be worth finding out if Vardy fancies a comeback.

Southgate will also surely have liked Maddison's cameo and the promise of Harvey Barnes.

Raheem Sterling cut a frustrated figure as a central striker until Guardiola turned to Liam Delap. The 17-year-old was unfortunate when his header clipped the top of the crossbar. And to think that it felt too easy for City. They were ahead inside four minutes through a brilliant driven shot by Riyad Mahrez - and appeared in control.

Leicester strung five players across defence, positioned four midfielders in front of them but failed to mark their former winger from a corner. The delivery was headed out by James Justin but only as far as Mahrez, who had time to turn and steady himself, although no one would suspect the power and direction he found with a fierce hit.

Maybe it would have been different had Fernandinho not headed a free-kick straight at Schmeichel, but Leicester gradually got their counter-attack working and crucial to that was Vardy. When Nampalys Mendy turned sharply on halfway to find Barnes, Vardy set off, inviting the pass and getting in behind Walker, who panicked and pulled him back for the first penalty.

Vardy converted. His second goal was more accomplished. Early in the second half Leicester built the play down their right with Timothy Castagne crossing low. Still, Vardy's finish was brilliant.

City were reeling and Leicester seized the advantage as Barnes and Vardy again combined with the latter once more holding his run to reach the pass and with Garcia clumsily bundling into the back of him. Once more it was terrible defending and Vardy completed his hat-trick.

Garcia was at fault again when he backed off Maddison, inviting him to shoot - and so the midfielder curled in a right-footed shot from outside the penalty area. 

There was a sliver of hope for City when Ake cleanly steered home a header from a corner but Leicester completed their hat-trick of penalties when Tielemans, whose passing rivalled that of Kevin de Bruyne, sent his spot kick past Ederson. With Leicester's colourful new away kit it meant it ended Marooned 2 Maroon 5.
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