West Brom 0 Leicester City 1: Premier League champions appear safe thanks to Jamie Vardy's first-half winner

John Percy
The Telegraph
Jamie Vardy celebrates  scoring the only goal of the game at the Hawthorns - Getty Images Europe
Jamie Vardy celebrates  scoring the only goal of the game at the Hawthorns - Getty Images Europe

Jamie Vardy always has a party at the Hawthorns and this latest strike surely ends any lingering relegation fears for the Premier League champions.

Vardy collected his third goal in three games at West Bromwich Albion, who have gone 465 minutes without finding the net, to ensure a memorable return for former Baggie Craig Shakespeare.

Albion have now lost four games in a row and are running on empty, while Leicester and Vardy have been revitalised since the controversial departure of Claudio Ranieri in February.

Vardy appeared lost and ineffectual at times during those difficult final months under Ranieri but his ruthlessly taken strike here takes Leicester to 40 points and virtually secures top-flight football next season. 

It was after West Brom’s 2-1 win at the King Power Stadium in November that doubts over Ranieri were starting to grow.

But this scrappy Midlands meander had as much sparkle as an annual birdwatchers’ meeting, a game with the unmistakable whiff of two teams desperate for the season to end.

West Brom 0 - 1 Leicester (Jamie Vardy, 43 min)

Referee Mark Clattenburg was bringing the curtain down on his Premier League career and will probably feel aggrieved at being given such a dead rubber to mark his farewell.

Albion’s problems in front of goal are mounting and can surely not have escaped the attention of owner Guochuan Lai in China. 

Jonny Evans, the centre-half, had their only chance for Albion in the first half, with his close-range header forcing Kasper Schmeichel into a theatrical save after 18 minutes.

Riyad Mahrez was having one of those infuriating afternoons where he drifts in and out of the game and Leicester were struggling to create any nervy moments.

But out of nowhere they took the lead two minutes before half-time. Shinji Okazaki reacted quickly after Salomon Rondon surrendered possession on the halfway line and played in Vardy, whose finish into the bottom corner was clinical.

Albion were much improved in the second half, with Rondon and James Morrison testing Schmeichel but the goal never looked like coming. The boos at the end will only have enhanced Pulis’s message to the board that new signings are desperately needed.

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