Report: Leicester City 2 Sunderland 0

Sunderland’s wait for a Premier League win continued as a ruthless Leicester City display sealed a sixth consecutive win for Craig Shakespeare’s side.

David Moyes’ side bossed the opening period at the King Power Stadium but they were unable to find an opener, with Demarai Gray’s venomous effort forcing Jordan Pickford into a stunning save moments before the interval.

The Black Cats continued to push forward following the restart but as time ticked on they tired and paid the price, with Islam Slimani’s glancing header handing the Foxes a 1-0 lead.

Substitute Victor Anichebe almost grabbed an equaliser soon after entering the fray, but his fierce effort struck the outside of the post with Kasper Schmeichel rooted to the spot.

And within minutes it was game over as Leicester do what they do best, counter attacking at break-neck pace before feeding Jamie Vardy who sent a thunderous strike into the top corner.

The Black Cats continued to battle but they did so to little avail, as they once again returned to Wearside empty-handed. 

Sunderland were handed a shot in the arm ahead of kick-off as Lee Cattermole was named in the starting XI for the first time since September, with Jermain Defoe also fit to lead the line after recovering from a knock.

Didier Ndong and Seb Larsson were also included by Moyes as Darron Gibson and Adnan Januzaj dropped to the bench, with John O’Shea unavailable for selection.

A raucous atmosphere awaited the players as they exited the tunnel, but the volume within the King Power Stadium was cranked up to eleven three minutes into the game.

Vardy, who entered the game in fine fettle, put Lamine Kone under immense pressure before Shinji Okazaki fired wide after Gray crossed towards the near post.

Sunderland’s first chance fell on nine minutes as Ndong curled a sumptuous ball towards the back post, but a superb last-ditch interception from Danny Simpson thwarted Larsson.

And the opportunities continued for fall for the Black Cats, as an offside flag denied Defoe who forced a save from Schmeichel with 17 minutes played.

Soaring after five consecutive wins, Leicester struggled against Sunderland’s intensity and desire during the opening period, with Moyes’ side forcing five corners – and a barrage of free-kicks – within the opening 35 minutes.

But, marshalled by Robert Huth, the Foxes held firm despite often being penned in and restricted to playing on the counter.

Gray, 21, was often at the centre of those counter-attacking flurries, and he almost opened the scoring with 43 minutes played.

The England under-21 international breezed past Ndong before sending a thumping finish towards the top corner, but the faintest of touches from Pickford ensured parity remained at the interval.

Heading into the second-half the Black Cats needed a similar moment of magic at the opposite end, but when space opened up for Borini to let fly he hesitated and saw his effort blocked.

The Italian could – and should – have done better.

Defoe was typically tireless and his persistence was rewarded with a free-kick on 54 minutes, but from 25 yards Larsson curled his effort off target.

A double change saw Marc Albrighton and striker Slimani enter the fray on the hour mark, however it was a change in the offing that had the red and white army on their feet as Anichebe was readied.

But as they waited for the change a sucker punch arrived.

Leicester’s double swap injected fresh impetus into their play and Sunderland soon found themselves unable to move out of their defensive third, with substitute Slimani delivering a hammer blow.

The Black Cats failed to stop the cross and the striker did the rest, glancing a header beyond Pickford as Moyes’ men switched off and were ruthlessly punished.

Anichebe was introduced soon after – as was Wahbi Khazri – and the former Everton man almost announced his return with a goal, but his low effort cannoned off the post before Defoe lashed the follow-up into the side netting.

And seconds later it was game over, as Albrighton supplied his second assist of the night feeding Vardy who slammed the ball into the top corner. 

Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Oviedo, Denayer, Kone, Cattermole (Khazri 73), Larsson (Anichebe 73), Rodwell (Gibson 80), Ndong, Borini, Defoe.

Subs not used:
Mannone, Djilobodji, Manquillo, Januzaj.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Drinkwater, Huth, Simpson, Okazaki (Slimani 61), Gray (Albrighton 61), Ndidi (King 82), Mahrez, Fuchs, Benalouane, Vardy.

Subs not used:
Chilwell, Amartey, Zieler, Ulloa.

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