Leicester City showed they could have a big say in the Premier League title race with an impressive 2-0 win over Southampton to move above champions Liverpool into second spot on Saturday.
An early thunderbolt by James Maddison and a stoppage-time goal by the impressive Harvey Barnes sealed the points although the hosts did not have everything their own way.
They suffered a late blow when striker Jamie Vardy limped off with a muscle injury but it was a positive night for Leicester who picked up only their fourth home win this season.
All eyes will be on Sunday’s Anfield showdown between Liverpool and leaders Manchester United but a well-balanced Leicester side look capable of staying with them.
Brendan Rodgers’s side have 35 points from 18 games, one point behind United and two better off than Liverpool. Manchester City, who also slipped below Leicester ahead of their Sunday clash with Crystal Palace, have 32.
Eighth-placed Southampton, who beat Liverpool in their last game, were unlucky when Stuart Armstrong’s long-range effort rattled the crossbar as the visitors pressed for an equaliser.
But Leicester, who started slowly, deserved the points.
“A great win for us. The first 25 minutes I thought we were socially distancing, we didn’t get within two metres of them,” Rodgers, whose side were in the running this time last year before falling away, told BT Sport.
“Second half we were much better and should have scored more than two goals. At the same time we defended well.”
Southampton, without striker Danny Ings who is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, were the sharper side early on and could have gone ahead when Che Adams forced Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel into action.
At the other end Barnes nearly finished off a slick Leicester move but drilled his shot straight at Alex McCarthy.
Leicester went ahead in the 37th minute when Maddison rolled Jan Bednarek on the edge of the area before advancing inside the penalty area. The angle looked tight but he ripped a rising shot high past McCarthy — celebrating in novel socially-distanced style with imaginary handshakes.
Southampton were almost level before halftime when left back Ryan Bertrand went clear and took aim with a powerful effort that Schmeichel beat away for a corner.
Will Smallbone also tested Schmeichel at the start of the second half and Leicester survived a scare when Armstrong thumped a shot against the bar in the 73rd minute. As the ball rebounded, Jonny Evans bundled over Shane Long but he was spared conceding a penalty by an offside flag.
Leicester could have added to their lead though with Barnes having an effort cleared off the line and McCarthy making a great save from Vardy. But Barnes made no mistake when he went through one-on-one and coolly dinked the ball into the net.
A late goal from Mason Mount gave Chelsea a laboured 1-0 win at 10-man Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday, easing some of the pressure off their manager Frank Lampard.
The result provisionally lifted Chelsea two places up to seventh on 29 points from 18 games, with Southampton, who visit Leicester City later on Saturday, able to leapfrog them.
Fulham, who suffered defeat after five successive draws, stayed 18th on 12 points from 17 games with a seemingly uphill task to avoid relegation.
Chelsea, who had won only one of their previous six games, dominated but lacked bite and were twice fortunate not to fall behind with Fulham striker Ivan Cavaleiro guilty of some poor finishing.
Home goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made two saves and Mount rattled the crossbar for Chelsea midway through the first half before Fulham had Antonee Robinson sent off in the 44th minute for a reckless tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta.
Several minutes earlier, Cavaleiro had the goal at his mercy after a flowing move left him with time and space to pick his spot but the Portuguese scuffed his shot wide from eight metres.
With Chelsea lacking any edge up front after the break despite their numerical advantage, Thiago Silva came to their rescue when he blocked Cavaleiro’s shot with keeper Edouard Mendy stranded after a defensive mix-up.
Mount finally broke the deadlock in the 78th minute with an unstoppable shot inside the near post after Areola could only palm an inviting Ben Chilwell cross from the left straight into the England midfielder’s stride.
Substitute Timo Werner should have added a second for Chelsea in stoppage time but fired woefully wide with only Areola to beat after racing clear from the halfway line.
Mount acknowledged Chelsea were relieved after grinding out the victory despite a toothless performance.
“We all knew we needed a win, we put that pressure on ourselves,” he told Sky Sports.
“We look at the quality in the changing room, we knew we need to win games. It has been a difficult last couple of weeks, but we put pressure on ourselves to win against a good team who have been playing well.”