Leicester produced an emphatic performance over Derby to reinforce their title credentials and maintain a four point gap over second-placed Burnley. The Foxes were terrific from the very first whistle, applying pressure on a Derby defence that had failed to keep a clean sheet since Christmas. Leicester’s four man midfield dominated Steve McClaren’s 4-3-3 lineup, and the early pressure was made to count when centre back Ritchie De Laet capped a storming run with a finish any striker would be proud of. Somehow the sides went into the break level with Leicester having hit the bar twice and missing a further two opportunities to increase their lead. The Rams failed to take a shot on target in the first period, and any chance of a Derby comeback in the second half were soon quashed as David Nugent doubled Leicester’s lead in scrappy and fortuitous style – atypical of the game’s flowing and attacking standard – when a saved shot rebounded off his own legs and into the net. Three goals in five minutes ensued, as De Laet’s own goal from a corner rekindled Derby hopes for the briefest of periods. Just over a minute later, Rams defender Craig Forsyth committed a reckless foul in the box to hand the initiative back to the hosts. Nugent made no mistake from the penalty spot for his second of the evening, and some slack defending let Jamie Vardy in for Leicester’s fourth soon after. The ardent performance was the league leaders’ fifth straight win, in the mean time being awarded an unrivalled 11th penalty. They might take some stopping this season.
Leeds United boss Brian McDermott called last week’s FA Cup defeat to local rivals Rochdale “my worst moment in football”. He might want to rethink that claim after he watched his side get torn apart in another local derby on Saturday lunchtime. It’s unclear whether the 6-0 drubbing was more to do with Leeds’ woeful defending or Sheffield Wednesday’s unstoppable attack, but a weight on the former is likely. The defeat is a sharp wake up call for McDermott, who has a lot of work to do on the training pitch before his side take on table toppers Leicester next week. The Whites looked like a team short of confidence, and were fortunate to go into the break just two behind, thanks to goals from Reda Johnson and Atdhe Nuhiu. An uphill task was made tougher when Matt Smith, a half time Leeds replacement for Tom Lees was sent off after a minute for a reckless and unnecessary challenge, and Wednesday took full advantage. Time and time again they broke through the Leeds defence like a hot knife in butter, with Marius Zaliukas looking particularly vulnerable at the back. Connor Wickham grabbed a ninth goal of the season, before Caolan Lavery scored his first two goals for Wednesday after being recalled from a loan spell at Plymouth. Leeds drop to 11th, while Wednesday continue their fine form under caretaker boss Stuart Gray, who will be hoping to get the nod on a permanent basis after such a resounding derby victory.
Another side on the rise thanks to a change in management is Wigan. Uwe Rosler replaced Owen Coyle from Brentford in December, and is yet to experience a league loss as Latics boss. Summer signing Marc-Antoine Fortune gave his side the early lead with an excellent strike past Lee Camp, but Wigan should have added more to their tally before the break. Five glorious chances went begging, with Callum McManaman and Nick Powell the guiltiest culprits. Fortunately for Rosler, the match was wrapped up courtesy of an Elliot Ward own goal and a late Jordi Gomez long-range effort. The Wigan manager oversaw a fourth clean sheet in as many games, and a third win in five that leaves the FA Cup holders just three points outside the play-offs.
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