Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hat-trick as Leicester City consolidated their position in 3rd place in the Premier League table with a commanding victory over Sheffield United, in the Blades’ first game since the departure of manager Chris Wilder.
Having been appointed interim manager until the end of the season on Saturday, Under-23s boss Paul Heckingbottom took charge of bottom of the table, Sheffield following former manager Chris Wilder’s departure by “mutual consent” after almost five years in charge.
The Foxes were too good for the Blades at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Sunday, where Iheanacho continued his fine goal scoring form for the 2015-16 Premier League champions.
Iheanacho scored for a third consecutive Premier League game for the first time as he pounced on Jamie Vardy’s cut-back to open the scoring before the break.
Ayoze Perez had come closest to opening the scoring for the Foxes with a header that Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale managed to save by pushing it onto the post. However, Perez did manage to net a well-deserved goal for his performance with a fine finish into the bottom corner after 64 minutes to put Leicester up 2-0.
Iheanacho made it 3-0 as he bagged his second of the game from another excellent Vardy pass in the 69th minute, before the Nigerian scored his first hattrick for the club in the 78th minute to make it 4-0.
Vardy thought he had ended a six-game goal drought with his shot 10 minutes from time, but Sheffield defender Ethan Ampadu’s deflection led to an own goal to make things worse for the Blades as they ended up losing the game 5-0.
Leicester City sit pretty on 56 points with 9 games to go, 5 points ahead of 4th placed Chelsea and 8 points clear of 5th placed West Ham United who have a game in hand in the race for the Champions League places.
Sheffield United, on the other hand, are 14 points behind safety in the Premier League survival battle and are almost certain to be relegated to the 2nd division of English football – the Championship.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers was pleased with his side’s performance saying, “We were nice and aggressive. We didn’t give them many chances. When we had the ball we had to be patient, it took a little bit of time but once we got the breakthrough we were outstanding with the speed of our game.
“Kelechi Iheanacho is a great guy and when he has been asked to come in he has performed. Absolutely delighted for him to have got a hat-trick in the Premier League. It’s a great achievement and all were very good team goals.”
Sheffield United’s new interim manager Paul Heckingbottom said, “We know the circumstances behind it. It’s been a tough week in losing Chris [Wilder]. He is a mate of mine. I’ve been in touch with him a few times. The players and the staff have lost their leader. It’s taken its toll. It’s an emotional dressing room.
“There were lots of habits in that performance which haven’t been there before. The standards have been slipping. I’m here to help between now and the end of the season.”