Leicester City 2 Stoke City 0: Craig Shakespeare writes name into Premier League history as Foxes revival continues

John Percy
The Telegraph
Craig Shakespeare shakes hands with Jamie Vardy - REUTERS
Craig Shakespeare shakes hands with Jamie Vardy - REUTERS

Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Craig Shakespeare.

Confused? For while the name of Shakespeare may appear incongruous among such football royalty, Leicester’s manager has now written his name into Premier League history after this latest victory.

Shakespeare joins that illustrious list of titans after winning his first four league games in charge, becoming the first British manager to record such an achievement, and he is making this job look easy.

Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy scored the goals which lifted Leicester further away from the relegation zone and provided an early birthday present for owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after the contentious dismissal of title winner Claudio Ranieri.

<span>Stoke boss Mark Hughes watches on in frustration</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Stoke boss Mark Hughes watches on in frustration Credit: PA

Leicester were down among the dead men last month, with the very real threat of going from champions to the Championship, but those fears appear to be over under Ranieri’s former No. 2.

They are now only three points behind Stoke, who started the afternoon in ninth place, and Shakespeare is on course to secure survival with the cigars out.

Stoke have now failed to score in their last four away games and were well beaten, with manager Mark Hughes surely itching to start the surgery on his squad in the summer.

Hughes’s squad appears unbalanced and old at the moment and in dire need of some dynamism. Recruitment will be crucial ahead of next season if the Welshman is to build on his progress with the Potters, and has to be better than last year.

Wilfried Bony, the striker on loan from Manchester City, was not even in the 18-man squad while record £18.3million buy Giannelli Imbula was an unused substitute.

Leicester, however, have been revitalised under Shakespeare and his fifth successive win – including the historic victory over Sevilla in the Champions League – never looked in doubt.

The defending champions had threatened frequently before finally taking the lead in the 25th minute, after another brilliant strike from their £15million January signing.

Ndidi is Leicester’s best recruit since N’Golo Kante and his rising shot from 25 yards into the top corner gave Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant no chance.

Stoke were struggling to get out of their own half, with Leicester winger Demarai Gray a shimmering menace on the left wing, drawing crude fouls from Ryan Shawcross and Glenn Whelan who were both booked.

Leicester 1 - 0 Stoke (Wilfred Ndidi, 25 min)

And Leicester’s second goal was inevitable, coming 76 seconds into the second half as Stoke’s defence were exposed again.

It was a clinical finish from Vardy, a volley from Danny Simpson’s cross, but Shawcross and Glen Johnson will be singled out for sleeping in the post-match inquest.

Hughes had to respond quickly and on came Peter Crouch, sparking an brief improvement from the visitors. Ramadan’s cross was pushed away by Schmeichel, with Stoke players waiting to pounce.

Yet Leicester were always a threat on the break and Riyad Mahrez nearly produced the finish to a lightning counter-attack from Vardy, shooting straight at Grant’s legs.

Schmeichel saved brilliantly from Crouch in added time yet Leicester are now threatening to secure a top-10 finish, further vindicating why Ranieri is now Dilly Ding, Dilly Gone.

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