Leicester - Jamie Vardy scored twice as a revitalised
Leicester City started life without sacked manager Claudio Ranieri by sinking
Liverpool 3-1 on Monday to spark their Premier League survival hopes.
Ranieri, 65, was dismissed last Thursday, nine months on
from Leicester's fairytale title win, and fans honoured him with banners, masks
and a smartphone light show in the 65th minute.
His former charges were unrecognisable from recent weeks,
with Danny Drinkwater also on target as they snapped a run of five straight
defeats to climb out of the relegation zone to 15th place.
"All I asked of the team was to remember what they were
about and remember their identity," said Leicester caretaker manager Craig
Both Vardy and Drinkwater said Leicester's display had been
a reaction to press reports implicating the players in Ranieri's exit.
Vardy's first-half opener was Leicester's first league goal
in seven games and made them the last team from Europe's five major
championships to find the net in 2017.
While the display will give Leicester's fans hopes of a
late-season rally under Shakespeare, it leaves unanswered questions about why
things had gone so badly wrong under Ranieri.
Asked if he wanted the job full-time, Shakespeare said:
"My remit was get them ready for Liverpool and I have done that. Let's see
Liverpool could have provisionally gone third with victory,
but instead they remain fifth, 14 points below leaders Chelsea and a point
behind fourth-place Arsenal having played a game more.
Jurgen Klopp's side, who replied through Philippe Coutinho,
have won only one of their last seven league games and look a shadow of the
team who looked poised to challenge for the title just weeks ago.
"We let them be the Leicester of last year - that's
our fault," Klopp said.
"We should get criticised. This inconsistency makes
absolutely no sense."
The first sign that Leicester's players might be about to
wind the clock back came on the team sheet, where Shinji Okazaki replaced Ahmed
Musa from last week's 2-1 Champions League loss away to Sevilla.
Save for the presence of Wilfred Ndidi and the absence of
the departed N'Golo Kante, it was the team that won the title and there was
energy and aggression to Leicester's play from the off.
Vardy set the tone within seconds, flying in on Sadio Mane
with a challenge that perhaps should have earned him a caution, and before long
the visitors' goal was bring peppered.
Simon Mignolet was tested three times in the first 18
minutes, fielding a header from Robert Huth, pushing Okazaki's flicked header
behind and parrying from Vardy, while Huth headed over.
The breakthrough came in the 28th minute and it was lifted
straight from Leicester's 2015-16 songbook.
Marc Albrighton's slide-rule pass freed Vardy to scuttle in
behind Joel Matip and steer a shot past Mignolet for his first goal in eight
The King Power Stadium erupted and the home fans were on
their feet again in the 39th minute as Drinkwater got in on the act.
Albrighton's cross from the left was headed away by James
Milner and fell kindly for Drinkwater, who speared a sumptuous 25-yard shot
into the bottom-right corner.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel showed alertness to
thwart Coutinho and Emre Can either side of Drinkwater's strike and Coutinho
tested him again early in the second half.
Vardy put the hosts 3-0 up on the hour, leaping above Can to
glance a fine header past Mignolet from Christian Fuchs's in-swinging cross.
An ode to the popular Ranieri from the home fans had just
faded away when Coutinho netted in the 69th minute, slotting in from Can's pass
to deny Leicester a first clean sheet in 11 matches.
But despite late pressure, they succeeded in holding Klopp's
men at arm's length, with Schmeichel denying substitute Divock Origi and
fumbling a Coutinho strike just wide of his right-hand post.