Leonardo Ulloa points way as Leicester City edge closer to Premier League title

Leicester 4 Swansea 0
The banner unveiled at the King Power Stadium before kick-off said it all: ‘History makes us who we are.’ 

And now, with just three games to go, Leicester City really are on the verge of doing just that.

By defeating Swansea City, Claudio Ranieri’s side are eight points clear at the top of the Premier League, just when it looked as though Tottenham were ready to reel them in after an impressive win over Stoke City.

Instead, Leicester have put themselves within touching distance of being crowned champions thanks to yet another performance that silenced the doubters and kept the dream alive.

Given the nature of this fairytale season, we perhaps should have seen this coming in the script, as without suspended top goalscorer Jamie Vardy it was Leonardo Ulloa who made himself the hero.

Filling in for Vardy, the Argentinean struck twice in-between Riyad Mahrez’s coolly taken opener and Marc Albrighton’s late strike, to take this remarkable fairytale one step closer to becoming a reality. 

“Now there are three games to go and we are closer, but everyone is working for each other and it is a great team spirit,” said Mahrez.

“In this team, we don’t need just one player. We are really together with our team spirit and we work for each other.

“Sometimes I score, sometimes Vardy scores, and sometimes Leo scores but we are a team. It is always a pleasure to play here. The fans are unbelievable.”

Given what had happened in their last outing against West Ham United, it was no surprise that this match started in a cagey manner.

Leicester, though, looked the more dominant side and you sensed an early goal was all they needed to settle their nerves. They duly got it after 10 minutes as Mahrez showed he was the coolest man in the stadium with a typically composed finished. 

The Algerian intercepted Ashley Williams’ pass along the back to Neil Taylor, before checking onto his left foot and slotting the ball past Lukasz Fabianski.

The goal lifted everyone inside the King Power Stadium and suddenly the thoughts of a chasing Tottenham were forgotten. 

Jeff Schlupp, who had earned a starting spot ahead of Albrighton, was causing Angel Rangel all sorts of problems, while Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante had ensured full control of midfield, despite Swansea outnumbering them in that department.

Shinji Okazaki’s tireless running up front was making inroads too and, after his low effort was deflected just wide, a second goal appeared imminent.

It did finally come just after the half hour mark as Swansea’s trouble defending set-pieces this season continued.

Drinkwater whipped in a deadly ball from the left and Ulloa rose highest to send the home fans wild.

It was a goal the onlooking Vardy would have been proud of as any concerns about Leicester missing their top goalscorer were well and truly put to bed.

The only worry for Leicester was that, while fears over Vardy’s absence had been put to bed, this match hadn’t and the introduction of Alberto Paloschi and Jefferson Montero at half-time demonstrated how Swansea were ready to throw caution to the wind.

However, Leicester remained defiant at the back and instead it was they who found the net once again to wrap up all three points with half an hour to go.

Schlupp broke down the left at blistering pace and, after his first attempt at a cut-back was blocked, the Ghanaian managed to prod it through at the second attempt for an on-rushing Ulloa to tap home from a yard.

Now it looked as though it was going to be a question of how many Leicester could put past their wilting opponents.

Christian Fuchs curled a free-kick inches wide of the post, while Schlupp had Fabianski at full-stretch to stop a stinging drive.

But the fourth goal did finally come six minutes from time as Albrighton gleefully tapped home Demarai Gray’s saved effort to wrap up a perfect day for Leicester.

“It’s a fantastic performance. Without Jamie Vardy everyone gave something more,” said Ranieri.

“We knew we had some difficulties but with the fight of everybody we had a good match. I asked for this kind of performance.

“I was delighted with Ulloa and Schlupp. They haven’t played a lot but I told them ‘now we need you’. And as for Mahrez, he is the light and when he is switched on the King Power is fantastic.

“We know it will be tough because Tottenham are a good team but we will fight until the end. We dream and now it is important to make the dream a reality. It is important to fight for that reality.”

Over to you, Tottenham.

LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2): Schmeichel 6; Simpson 6, Huth 7, Morgan 7, Fuchs 6; Mahrez 8, Kante 7, Drinkwater 8, Schlupp 9 (82 Albrighton 7); Okazaki 7 (Gray 72 6), Ulloa 9 (King 78 6).

Subs not used: Schwarzer, Chilwell, Wasilewski, Amartey.

SWANSEA CITY (4-3-3): Fabianski 5; Rangel 4, Fernandez 4, Williams 3, Taylor 4; Cork 4, Britton 5, Fer 5 (Paloschi 45 5); Ayew 5, Sigurdsson 6 (Ki Sung-Yueng 74 5), Routledge 5 (Montero 45 5).

Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Naughton, Amat, Barrow.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg


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