Leicester City captain Wes Morgan scored his first goal in almost a year as the Premier League fairytale-title chasers edged Southampton 1-0 yesterday to establish a potentially decisive seven-point lead.
Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday had given Claudio Ranieri’s men an opportunity to strengthen their grip on first place and they duly took it courtesy of Morgan’s 38th-minute header.
It was Leicester’s fifth 1-0 victory in six matches and with just six games of the season remaining, the 132-year-old club’s first ever top-flight title is now tantalisingly within sight.
The east Midlands side were bottom of the table a year ago, but require just 12 points from a possible 18 to complete one of the most sensational underdog triumphs in world football history.
Ronald Koeman’s Southampton, who had two penalty appeals for handball turned away, remain seventh and face an uphill battle to force their way into the Europa League berths.
With chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha laying on free doughnuts and bottles of beer for home fans to mark his birthday and ‘Leicester City Champions 2016’ scarves for sale on the walk to the ground, the atmosphere could barely have been more festive at a sun-soaked King Power Stadium.
In a bid to counter Leicester’s two-pronged strike-force of Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, Southampton deployed a back three and while the home side made the early running, the clearest opportunities of the first half fell to the visitors.
Their best chance saw Graziano Pelle free Sadio Mane, who rounded Kasper Schmeichel and shot, only for the ball to strike Danny Simpson’s right forearm as he came across to cover the vacant goal.
Southampton appealed for a penalty, but the right-back’s arm had remained close to his body so referee Michael Oliver waved play on.