Jamie Vardy ended a three-month goal drought in style when his hat trick led struggling champion Leicester to a 4-2 victory over Manchester City in the English Premier League on Saturday.
The diminutive striker looked back to last season’s best, making a nuisance of himself and worrying defenders with his pace and movement.
It took Vardy only three minutes to score his first club goal in 17 appearances and Andy King added another inside two minutes. Vardy netted again in the 20th and 78th minutes before City attempted a fightback. Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a free kick and set up Nolito to limit the humiliation for Pep Guardiola’s fourth-place side.
“Today was about getting back to basics and doing what we do best, getting in people’s faces and playing at a high tempo,” King said. “Doing it against such a good team is really good. We know we’ve been better than we’ve shown in the last couple of weeks.”
It was Leicester’s first Premier League win since October and took Claudio Ranieri’s team four points clear of the relegation zone. It also vindicated Ranieri’s decision to rest Vardy and other key players during the 5-0 loss at FC Porto on Wednesday, when Leicester’s qualification for the Champions League round of 16 as group winner was already certain. The break seemed to help Vardy.
He emerged from his scoring slump by striking past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo after receiving a pass from Islam Slimani.
After Andy King curled the ball into the roof of the net, Vardy latched onto a brilliant cushioned lay-off from Riyad Mahrez before rounding Bravo and slotting into the net.
Vardy completed his treble when intercepting a stray pass from John Stones before beating Bravo again, with the ball going over the line off the post from a tight angle.
“Except the last goal, he made a good performance,” Guardiola said in defense of Stones. “Central defenders are just defending, put the ball long, but what we want is a little bit more, not just defending.
“I’m not disappointed with my players. When I need to tell them something I will tell it to them, they are professional and old enough to know what happens. Hopefully in the future we can improve.”
City failed to win a tackle in the first 35 minutes but Guardiola sought to downplay the statistic.
“The second ball is a concept here in England,” Guardiola said. “I’m not a coach for the tackles so I don’t train the tackles.”