Jamie Vardy ruined Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester homecoming with a first-half double to inflict defeat on the manager who helped him win the Premier League title.
Watford boss Ranieri was in charge when the Foxes defied odds of 5,000-1 to lift the trophy in 2016 and this was the first time he had returned to the King Power Stadium as an opposing manager.
Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel were the only members of the title-winning team in the starting XI here but both played their part as did James Maddison, who scored the opener and created both Vardy’s goals.
Jamie Vardy slotted a brace just before half time to put Leicester in charge of the game
Vardy celebrated in front of his former manager Claudio Ranieri on the sideline
The conditions were treacherous for Leicester and Watford with heavy snowfall
Emmanuel Dennis scored to make it 3-2 and fans could hardly see the ball through the snow
Schmeichel 7; Castagne 5.5, Evans 6.5, Soyuncu 6, Thomas 7; Soumare 6, Ndidi 6; Lookman 6.5 (Albrighton 75, 6), Maddison 7.5 (Dewsbury-Hall 88), Barnes 6.5; Vardy 7.5. Subs not used: Ward, Iheanacho, Perez, Amartey, Choudhury, Vestergaard, Daka.
Scorers: Maddison 16, Vardy 35, 43, Lookman 68
Manager: Brendan Rodgers 6.5
Bachmann 6; Femenia 6, Cathcart 5, Ekong 5, Masina 6.5; Louza 5.5 (Tufan 46, 6); Hernandez 6.5, Cleverley 6 (Joao Pedro 46, 6), Sissoko 6.5, Dennis 7 ((Fletcher 72, 6); King 6.5. Subs not used: Elliot, Ngakia, Rose, Gosling, Kabasele, Morris.
Scorers: King 30 (pen), Dennis 61
Manager: Claudio Ranieri 6
Referee: Andrew Madley 6.5
With snow falling for most of the match, Watford always looked a threat in attack but were undone by poor defending. After Maddison had put Leicester ahead, Joshua King equalised from the penalty spot before Vardy took over to give Brendan Rodgers’ men a 3-1 half-time lead. Emmanuel Dennis gave Leicester hope on the hour mark only for Ademola Lookman to restore Leicester’s two-goal lead moments later.
Ranieri was serenaded by the home fans when he walked from the tunnel and returned the compliment, tapping his chest and raising his hands to acknowledge the reception.
Leicester were without a win in the league since October 24 and they needed to start well, Vardy’s near-post effort was saved by stand-in goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, who had replaced the injured Ben Foster.
Watford were also without Ismaila Sarr and Nicolas Nkoulou yet they were confident after beating Manchester United 4-1 a week ago and looked the more composed side early on. At the back, though, they were undone by baffling mistakes.
In the 16th minute, Jonny Evans’ long pass should have presented William Ekong with a simple headed clearance.