Leicester City 2 Southampton 0 – 9 May 2015

Riyad Mahrez scored two first-half goals to boost Leicester City’s survival hopes with a deserved win over Southampton this afternoon.

The Algerian international put the Foxes ahead after seven minutes after picking the ball up in midfield and finding the bottom corner of the net with a cool finish from eighteen yards.

Mahrez doubled Leicester’s tally just twelve minutes later when he poked home from close range after excellent work from Jamie Vardy.

The visitors enjoyed much of the possession in the second half but were unable to break down a resolute and disciplined Leicester City backline, commanded by the impressive Robert Huth.

It was a sixth win in seven for Nigel Pearson’s side who continue their astonishing escape from the Premier League’s bottom three, and now find themselves in fifteenth place – three points above Hull City, and with a superior goal difference – with just two games remaining.

The only dampener on the day for April’s Manager of the Month was watching Matty James being carried off the field on a stretcher after suffering what appeared to be a nasty knee injury early in the first half.

Pearson named an unchanged starting XI from last weekend’s season-best 3-0 victory over Newcastle United, with David Nugent named back among the replacements after recovering from injury.

Leicester started the match at a high tempo, although it was the visitors who had the first opportunity to open the scoring when Saido Mané almost broke through the Foxes’ defense, but Marc Albrighton’s excellently timed tackle was enough to thwart the Senegalese international.

Moments later, the home side were ahead when Leonardo Ulloa nodded the ball to Riyad Mahrez for the tricky winger to reach the edge of the Saints’ penalty area before firing into the bottom corner past Paulo Gazzaniga.

It was a neat finish from Mahrez who had not found the net since December 2014 and a perfect way to put the visitors, who hold the second best defensive record in the Premier League, on the back foot.

Spirits were high at the King Power Stadium but in the thirteen minute, Matty James took an awkward fall after appearing to catch his foot in the turf while defending against Ryan Bertrand – a moment which caused a lengthy delay in the match and was later confirmed as a knee injury.

However, Leicester remained focused, and shortly after Danny Drinkwater replaced James in the centre of midfield, the Foxes doubled their lead when Jamie Vardy burst past Nathaniel Clyne and fired a cross into the Southampton six yard box for Mahrez to poke the ball past Gazzaniga for his – and Leicester’s – second of the match.

It was goal which typified Leicester City’s performances over the last six weeks, with Vardy relentlessly pressing the opposition and breaking quickly in attack, and attacking players finding themselves in the right place at the right time.

The visitors looked stunned but did try to find a way back into the match, with Harrison Reed seeing his long range effort punched away by Kasper Schmeichel, before Mane headed over the crossbar shortly after.

Leicester might have put the game out of sight with ten minutes of the first half remaining when Mahrez pierced the Saints’ defense with a pass to Jamie Vardy, but the former Fleetwood Town man was denied by the legs of Gazzaniga.

Toby Alderweireld’s free kick was tipped over the bar by Kasper Schmeichel as the first half came to a close, as the Foxes left the field of play to rapturous applause by the Blue Army.

Southampton began the second half enjoying the lion’s share of possession, as they had done in the first, but were unable to find a way through a wall of Leicester City players, this time with Wes Morgan executing a well-timed tackle to deny Mane breaking into the penalty area.

Mahrez could have grabbed his hat-trick with just under an hour played when he picked up a loose defensive clearance outside the penalty area, but could only drag his shot wide of the near post.

Esteban Cambiasso then had a shot comfortably saved by Gazzaniga before the ever-dangerous Jamie Vardy broke on the counter attack, but could not release the ball to Mahrez who was unmarked on the edge of the box.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Cambiasso hit the side netting after good work from Jeff Schlupp and Marc Albrighton, but the visitors lacked bite going forward as the second half drew to a close.

Leicester held out for their fourth clean sheet in five matches and their sixth win in seven matches, as they climb to fifteenth in the Premier League table, knowing that a win at Sunderland next weekend would all but seal their top-flight status for another year.

Man of the Match – Riyad Mahrez