Leicester beat Birmingham to stretch clear at top


Harry Winks of Leicester City celebrates after Stephy Mavididi of Leicester City scores to make it 1-3 during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Leicester City at St Andrews (stadium) on December 18, 2023 in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Leicester City turned up the heat at the top of the Championship – looking breathtaking at times as they beat Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.

In a lightning start, Stephy Mavididi fired Leicester ahead at one end, just 13 seconds after Foxes defender James Justin had hit his own post, then Jordan James quickly levelled for Blues, but Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall finished off another rapid counter-attack to quickly restore the Foxes’ lead.

Mavididi, booked for over-celebrating his first goal, then curled in a deflected killer third goal five minutes into the second half.

Wales midfielder James gave Blues hope with his second goal of the night, a right-foot chip that also took a crucial deflection – but the Foxes were never threatened again as they stretched their lead to three points over second-placed Ipswich Town.

They are also now 13 points clear of third-placed Leeds United, having picked up 55 out of a possible 66 – and that is the highest amount at this stage of a Championship season in two decades.

Blues started at a great pace, as Jordan James, Siriki Dembele and Krystian Bielik, with a near-post header brilliantly tipped over, all tested Foxes keeper Mads Hermansen.

But the hosts then got stung in the cruellest manner when from their own corner, after a panicking Justin crashed an attempted clearance against his own upright, Leicester broke with blistering speed and Abdul Fatawu slipped in Mavididi, who clipped a cool finish over the advancing John Ruddy.

Mavididi then rather overdid the celebration, upsetting the locals by sitting on the front wall of the home Tilton Road End.

Blues players offered their own more fitting response four minutes later, when highly regarded midfielder James latched on to Ivan Sunjic’s pass to guide home a beautifully angled shot inside the left upright.

But Blues were back on level terms for just seven minutes, with Fatawu again the supply line as Leicester ran from their own box to stun Blues for a second time with the sheer speed of their counter-attacks.

Dewsbury-Hall was the scorer – his seventh strike of the season, four of which have now come against Midlands opposition, having also scored twice against Coventry on the opening day of the season and also in last month’s win at West Brom.

Mavididi looked to have sealed the points when, on another rapid break, he cut in from the left and unleashed a right-foot curler which went in with the help of a deflection off Emanuel Aiwu.

Inspirational teenager James then gave Blues hope when his own deflected effort got it back to 3-2, with still time to grab a point. But, despite the introduction of substitutes Scott Hogan and Lukas Jutkiewicz, Blues were never really allowed to threaten again – and it was Leicester sub Cesare Casadei who should have added a fourth on the break, but fired just wide.

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