Vardy at the double for Leicester

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Jamie Vardy scored twice – including a spectacular effort – as leaders Leicester beat Liverpool 2-0 to maintain their grip on the top of the Barclays Premier League table.

The striker’s brilliant brace maintained the Foxes’ three-point lead over Manchester City – ahead of their top-of-the-table showdown on Saturday.

In front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson the 29-year-old netted a stunning 25-yard effort before firing in from close range to continue his stellar campaign.

Vardy is in talks with City to extend his deal and reached 18 Barclays Premier League goals for the season to underline his importance to Claudio Ranieri and help prove outstanding Leicester’s title credentials.

The Foxes remain three points ahead of Manchester City, who claimed a narrow 1-0 triumph at Sunderland as Sergio Aguero served up a reminder that there is life before Pep Guardiola.

The Argentina international’s 17th goal of the season was enough to claim all three points at the Stadium of Light, where the Black Cats suggested they could yet dig themselves out of relegation trouble.

City were far from at their best and it took fine saves by keeper Joe Hart to deny Jermain Defoe, who found himself embroiled in a running battle with defenders Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi, Billy Jones and substitute Wahbi Khazri in front of a crowd of 38,852.

But Aguero’s 16th-minute strike proved sufficient to keep current boss Manuel Pellegrini, taking charge of his 100th Premier League game, on track for an unprecedented quadruple.

Harry Kane scored a brace as Tottenham moved above rivals Arsenal into third with a 3-0 victory at Norwich.

Dele Alli scored inside two minutes to open the scoring for the hosts before Harry Kane doubled Tottenham’s advantage from the spot on the half-hour mark.

While Norwich were greatly improved after the interval, it was Kane who completed a fine night for Spurs, with his second goal in injury time.

Tottenham, who recorded their fifth straight victory in all competitions, keep alive their dreams of winning a first league title since 1961. But Norwich, now with four league defeats in as many matches, remain two points above the relegation zone.

An inspired display from Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster earned his side a 0-0 draw at Arsenal as the Gunners lost further ground on their title rivals.

There was talk of this being a revenge mission following Saints’ 4-0 win in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day but Forster was superb as a string of top-class saves secured a 0-0 draw and a share of the spoils for the visitors.

The 27-year-old was playing just his fourth game after returning from a serious knee injury that had sidelined him for 10 months and his superb performance here means he is yet to concede since coming back into the Southampton side.

His heroics here, most notably from Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud, mean Arsenal were the only side in the top six not to win and Arsene Wenger’s men have now taken just three points from their last four league outings.

Southampton were without recent acquisition Charlie Austin due to a minor injury and they never looked like snatching a victory to secure a famous double.

Manchester United eased the pressure on Louis van Gaal as they blew away Stoke with a fine display of ruthless attacking football in a 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

The announcement of Pep Guardiola’s appointment at Manchester City, and a fruitless transfer deadline day, had led to more pessimism among United’s long-suffering support before kick-off.

The United fans booed their team off following the last game here – a 1-0 defeat to Southampton.

But they had something to cheer about on Tuesday as United pummelled Stoke in their one of their best performances of the campaign.

Wayne Rooney moved to within five goals of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record with his seventh goal in seven games and Jesse Lingard nodded in a fine ball from Cameron Borthwick-Jackson to put United ahead in the 14th minute.

Jordan Ayew was sent off in disgrace as Aston Villa were shoved a step closer to relegation following a 2-0 defeat at West Ham.

Ghana striker Ayew left his struggling side in the lurch when he was dismissed for a vicious elbow into the face of Aaron Cresswell after just 17 minutes.

And it was Villa who ended up with a bloody nose after Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate struck in the second half to end the 10 men’s resistance.

Salomon Rondon rescued a point for West Brom with a stoppage-time equaliser to deny Swansea victory at The Hawthorns.

It looked like Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal would continue Swansea’s revival under Francesco Guidolin with a third straight win and see the Welsh side go above West Brom in the Barclays Premier League table.

But Lukasz Fabianski, who had been in decent form on the night, was finally beaten in the second minute of time added on when Rondon blasted the ball home from close range after a scramble inside the six-yard box, and it finished 1-1.

Bournemouth secured a vital victory in their pursuit of survival with a deserved 2-1 away win over Crystal Palace.

Recovering from conceding the opening goal to Scott Dann, they went seven points clear of the relegation zone after Marc Pugh and Benik Afobe scored either side of half-time.

The result leaves 11th-placed Palace winless in the league since December 19, and perhaps more importantly further away from finishing in the top six which had once looked a realistic ambition.

 

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