Leicester blitz Sunderland as Ranieri’s reign starts with a bang
Dick Advocaat’s side blown away as Foxes take three goal after just 25 minutes
Riyad Mahrez scored an early brace as Leicester City blew away Sunderland. Photograph: PA
A first-half blitz from Leicester blew away Sunderland to hand new boss Claudio Ranieri a dream start.
Riyad Mahrez’s double and Jamie Vardy’s opener earned the Foxes an easy 4-2 win over the wretched Black Cats.
England striker Vardy’s header and Mahrez’s brace, one coming from the penalty spot, put Leicester in complete control after just 25 minutes.
The win gave Ranieri, who replaced Nigel Pearson in the summer, his first win in charge in his first Premier League game in 11 years.
The Italian gave Shinji Okazaki his Foxes bow but fellow new-boys Christian Fuchs, Yohan Benalouane and N’Golo Kante were on the bench while Jeremain Lens and Younes Kaboul started for the Black Cats.
However, it was one of the stars of last season who fired Leicester into a 12th minute lead.
Ranieri had challenged Vardy to score more goals after he netted five last season — earning an England call — and the forward responded instantly when he flicked Albrighton’s free-kick across goal and the Black Cats allowed it to bounce in off the woodwork.
It came after Kasper Schmeichel, a spectator for most of the half, denied Defoe from point-blank range after the striker wriggled free in the sixth minute.
But that was the only fear for the Foxes as they took total control inside half an hour.
Mahrez saw a shot deflect wide off Kaboul but eventually doubled Leicester’s lead on 18 minutes when he powered in a 12-yard header from Albrighton’s cross.
And seven minutes later he made it 3-0 when, after being brought down in the area by Lee Cattermole, the Algerian international sent Costel Pantilimon the wrong way from the spot.
Dick Advocaat responded by replacing Cattermole with Fletcher but it failed to give the visitors any foothold in a game which was already lost.
And Danny Drinkwater almost added a fourth from distance when his effort was palmed away a minute before half time.
There was little Leicester let-up and Mahrez continued to torture Sunderland after the break as he turned them inside out before hitting the post 10 minutes after the restart.
Pantilimon then saved from Vardy and Mahrez as Leicester threatened to embarrass the visitors.
But they pulled a goal back against the run of play on 60 minutes when Adam Johnson slipped Defoe in to fire into the corner from 10 yards.
Suddenly Defoe was alive and Schmeichel was forced into a smart low save two minutes later with Leicester rattled.
Albrighton made it 4-1 with 25 minutes left. The visitors failed to clear Mahrez’s cross and, when Vardy’s presence caused problems, the ball fell to Albrighton to drill in from the edge of the area.
The goal rush continued five minutes later, though, when Fletcher made it 4-2, heading into an empty net after Defoe lobbed Schmeichel.
It kept the Foxes on their toes and Okazaki was denied a debut goal by Kaboul’s block with four minutes left.