LONDON: Jamie Vardy’s hat trick dealt an early blow to Manchester City’s hopes of wrestling back the Premier League title as they conceded three penalties in a 5-2 defeat to Leicester, while Newcastle’s late spot kick to snatch a 1-1 draw at Tottenham sparked fresh debate over the handball rule.
City were without a host of first-team regulars due to injury and coronavirus infections, but the deficiencies at the back that undid their title defense last season were again exposed by the pace and finishing prowess of Vardy as a Pep Guardiola team conceded five for the first time in his coaching career.
Leicester stormed to the top of the league, but had to come from behind to extend their perfect start to the season as Riyad Mahrez’s stunning strike against his former club opened the scoring after just four minutes.
City are reportedly close to signing Benfica center-back Ruben Dias and the need for defensive cover was obvious as Vardy tore apart the experimental pairing of Eric Garcia and Nathan Ake.
It was the more experienced Kyle Walker who was at fault to start Leicester’s revival as he brought down Vardy, who slammed home the resulting penalty.
The former England international then brilliantly flicked home Timothy Castagne’s cross and drew another penalty from Garcia’s naive challenge.
Vardy this time slotted low past Ederson and James Maddison killed off a jaded City with a sumptuous curling effort into the top corner.
Ake pulled a goal back six minutes from time from Mahrez’s corner, but after Vardy had made way, another idiotic City challenge, this time form Benjamin Mendy, allowed Your Tielemans to score Leicester’s third penalty.
Tottenham find themselves already five points behind the Foxes and Everton at the top of the table after letting two points slip away from a dominant display against Newcastle.
Lucas Moura’s predatory finish on 25 minutes was all Spurs had to show from a first-half littered with chances as Karl Darlow made three fine saves from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min hit the woodwork twice.
Newcastle had not even registered a shot on target until they were awarded a penalty five minutes into added time when Andy Carroll’s header brushed the arm of Eric Dier and referee Peter Bankes pointed to the spot after reviewing the incident on the pitch-side monitor.
Hugo Lloris got a hand to Callum Wilson’s penalty but could not keep it out with even the Magpies boss Steve Bruce embarrassed to have escaped with a point.
“It is a total nonsense,” said Bruce of the penalty award. “We should be jumping through hoops, but I would be devastated if that was us.”
Leeds’ fine start on their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence continued as Patrick Bamford scored a dramatic late winner to win a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United 1-0.
After pushing Liverpool all the way in a 4-3 defeat on the opening weekend of the season, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have won their next two with the much-maligned Bamford scoring in all three games so far.
Bamford’s header two minutes from time settled a hard-fought clash that was dominated by superb displays from Leeds keeper Illan Meslier and Blades stopper Aaron Ramsdale.
The Blades remain without a point or a goal this season after impressing to finish ninth on their return to the top-flight last season.