MANCHESTER, England — Jamie Vardy’s stunning volley set Leicester on its way to a 2-0 victory over Liverpool on Tuesday, keeping the unlikely title challengers top of the Premier League on a night Manchester United rediscovered its scoring touch at Old Trafford.
Manchester City and Tottenham also won to stay in touch with Leicester, but Arsenal was held 0-0 by Southampton and dropped to fourth place.
Leicester preserved its three-point lead over City and its title charge shows no sign of slowing — nor does Vardy’s prolific form this season.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 2, 2016
The England striker volleyed in a looping shot from 25 metres before adding another goal in the second half to sink Liverpool at King Power Stadium and take his tally to 18 this campaign.
"We are free of pressure," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said. "The players have a good feeling."
Watch match highlights: Leicester City 2, Liverpool 0 | Manchester City 1, Sunderland 0 | Arsenal 0, Southampton 0 | Manchester United 3, Stoke City 0 | Tottenham 3, Norwich City 0 | West Brom 1, Swansea 1 | West Ham 2, Aston Villa 0 | Bournemouth 2, Crystal Palace 1
United beat Stoke 3-0, scoring in the first half at home for the first time since September. Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney — with his seventh goal in his last seven games — scored for United, which trimmed the gap to the Champions League qualification places to five points.
Criticized for much of the season for its risk-averse attacking approach, United has scored six goals in its last two games.
"A result like that settles the nerves of the fans, the players, even the manager," Lingard said. "Hopefully now we can go on a run."
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Sergio Aguero was the match winner for City in a 1-0 victory at Sunderland in the team’s first game since announcing the hiring of Pep Guardiola as coach starting next season. Aguero looks back to his sharpest, having scored eight goals in as many games in 2016.
Tottenham won 3-0 at Norwich thanks to a double from Harry Kane and another goal from young midfielder Dele Alli. The win lifted Spurs to third, above north London neighbour Arsenal on goal difference.
Also, Aston Villa had forward Jordan Ayew sent off in the 17th minute for elbowing an opponent in a 2-0 loss at West Ham, which left the league’s last-place team 10 points adrift of safety. West Bromwich Albion scored two minutes into injury time to draw 1-1 against Swansea, and Bournemouth won 2-1 at Crystal Palace.
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With 14 games left this campaign, Leicester is closing in on a Champions League qualification place — the team is 10 points clear of United — and must now be seen as a definite title contender.
Few thought a team that only narrowly avoided relegation last season could keep up its challenge at the other end of the standings, but the Foxes are proving everyone wrong.
"It’s not a coincidence we’re top of the table," Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater said. "This is team spirit at its highest. We won’t stop believing. We’re staying on the ground, but if we carry on the way we are, then why not have the belief (to win the league)?
"It would go down in history, surely."