Football’s biggest underdog story has come true after Leicester went on to defy the odds and win their first ever league in club’s 132 years history.
The Foxes are the first new Champions of England after a gap of 38 years. The stats, the achievements it will keep getting better as we unravel this inspiring story in next few weeks.
However, as the season wore on there were few games which stood out as more important than the others. We take a look back at those seven matches which were crucial in Leicester’s title triumph this season.
August 8: Leicester 4-2 Sunderland
Believe it or not, it all could have gone south for Leicester on the very first day of the season had they listened to the garbage being thrown at them.
Nigel Pearson’s sacking followed by Claudio Ranieri’s appointment was ridiculed all over the media with many of the Leicester fans going against their club’s decision as well.
It was the opening day of 2015/16 season and everybody at King Power Stadium expected Leicester to lose. However, the end result saw them beat Sunderland 4-2 and deliver a commanding performance and erased many doubts which had followed them.
The result was key in setting the right tone for rest of the season and more importantly get those insanely loud fans behind their back through thick and thin. Goal scorers on the night were Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton.
September 13: Leicester 3-2 Aston Villa
Earlier in the season, Leicester City were not the mean defense machine who did not know how to concede a goal. Instead they played open and expansive football and always allowed their oppositions an opportunity to score.
While returning from season’s first International break back in September, Leicester were still unbeaten and to everyone’s surprise still on top of the table. Then came Aston Villa who were leading 2-0 at King Power even after the hour mark.
Everyone thought that’s it now is the moment when Leicester’s bubble would burst. However, Riyad Mahrez had other ideas as he provided two assists and completed a stunning comeback in the 90th minute. Nathan Dyre scored the match-winning goal that day.
Defeats against Arsenal – Sept 26, Feb 14
A lot can be said about the team’s mental strength and self belief from the manner in which they respond to a defeat. Arsenal managed to beat them twice this season and on both occasions in damning fashion as well.
Alexis Sanchez destroyed their title credentials with a superb hat-trick back in September which was then followed by Danny Welbeck’s 94th minute winner which was a big blow to Leicester’s title hopes.
However, on both those instances Leicester came back strongly and went on a 10-match unbeaten runs. After the 5-2 defeat, Leicester registered 8 wins and 2 draws in their next ten matches while the injury time defeat was followed by 7 wins and 3 draws in the next ten.
Those are the kind of responses which you expect from a Championship winning side and Leicester have certainly shown that on numerous occasions this season.
January 13: Tottenham 0-1 Leicester
This was bit of a dry spell for Leicester after they had gone three consecutive matches without a win. Like every other time, Ranieri’s side were deemed as pretenders and were asked to forget their crazy title hopes.
What did they do next? They went away at White Hart Lane and disposed one of the title rivals Tottenham Hotspur with a well disciplined 1-0 win.
Robert Huth’s towering header ended up being the difference for Leicester as they kept pushing away towards an unprecedented league win.
February 6: Manchester City 1-3 Leicester
This was the game when everyone gave up on pulling Leicester down and acknowledged them as a real contender to win this season’s title, not the favorites but certainly one of the contenders.
By this time, Manchester City were still in the hunt for their own title push but were undone by a more energetic and exuberant Leicester side. Riyad Mahrez once again led the charge for his team and was supported by Robert Huth’s impeccable headed goals.
It was a huge statement of intent from Claudio Ranieri’s men who had now gone away to Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and then Manchester City to register emphatic wins and certainly back their claim of winning the league title.
April 17: West Ham 2-2 Leicester
Just when Tottenham were waiting to pounce on Leicester’s dropped points against West Ham, season’s most defining moment came after ref Jon Moss deemed Jeff Schlupp’s fall as a foul and awarded Leicester a 94th minute penalty.
Jamie Vardy was missing from the game after being shown a red card so up-stepped Leo Ulloa with entire King Power Stadium looking at him in hope and anticipation to score from the spot. And so he did with one of the most composed finishes of the season.
That late draw was the true Leicester spirit we have witnessed throughout the season where they have failed to give up in even the most adverse of conditions. Their title win will forever be remembered as the greatest UNDERDOG success story Sports has ever witnessed, and one which cannot be replicated in generations to come.
Image Credit: Getty, Sun