Jamie Vardy’s record scoring streak ended but Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title challenge continued with Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick sealing a 3-0 win at Swansea City that put them top on Saturday.
Manchester City’s dismal 2-0 defeat at Stoke City in the early kickoff opened the door for 2000-1 pre-season title shots Leicester to reach the summit after 15 games and they responded in emphatic fashion in south Wales.
Mahrez scored twice in the first 22 minutes and struck again after the break as Leicestermoved on to 32 points, two clear of Arsenal who moved above Manchester City with a 3-1 home defeat of Sunderland — Olivier Giroud scoring for both sides.
Vardy had scored for 11 consecutive Premier League matches and while he drew a blank at the Liberty Stadium, it had no effect on Claudio Ranieri’s confident side who are still unbeaten away from home in the league this season.
Two goals inside the opening 15 minutes from Stoke’s Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic, both created by influential Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri, condemned injury-hit City to defeat at a blustery Britannia Stadium.
“We can’t accept how we played today,” City keeper Joe Hart said. “It was a disappointing start and we could not recover from it.”
Manchester United failed to take advantage of City’s defeat, drawing 0-0 at home with West Ham United to stay fourth, level on 29 points with their neighbours.
There were some boos at fulltime after a fourth 0-0 draw in their last six home games.
“The most important thing is we are dominant and creating chances, but we have to improve because we don’t score,” United manager Louis van Gaal said.
Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur also missed the chance to capitalise as they drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion.
Dele Alli had given the visitors an early lead but James McClean headed West Brom level as Tottenham drew for the eighth time so far in the campaign.
Leicester, who spent a total of 140 days propping up the Premier League last season, the most by any club to avoid relegation, were too good for free-falling Swansea.
And they proved that their form is not all about Vardy’s scoring prowess as Mahrez produced three clinical strikes.
The Algerian, who cost 500,000 pounds when he joined from French club Le Havre, headed them in front after five minutes, looked offside when he swept in a second after 22 and rounded off a great day in the 67th minute after a counter-attack.
He now has 10 league goals this season.
Remi Garde is still awaiting his first win as manager of bottom club Aston Villa but earned some comfort in a 1-1 draw away to Southampton.
Fellow-strugglers Norwich City lost 2-0 at Watford.
Champions Chelsea, wallowing down in 14th place, host Bournemouth in the late game.