Nugent’s late double secures victory over Rams
Leicester City moved up to third in the Championship this evening with a resounding win over their East Midlands rivals Derby County.
Zak Whitbread`s early header gave the Foxes the lead, before Martyn Waghorn doubled Leicester`s advantage midway through the first half with a clever finish.
Theo Robinson pulled a goal back for the Rams, but David Nugent scored twice in fifteen second-half minutes to secure all three points for the home side.
It was an excellent response to a disappointing 1-0 midweek loss to Leeds United, and a result that puts pressure on Crystal Palace and Cardiff City who currently occupy the automatic promotion places.
Leicester got off to a dream start when Zak Whitbread`s headed home Martyn Waghorn`s sixth-minute corner – his first goal for the Foxes since joining the club over the summer.
Nigel Clough will rue his side`s defending for the set-piece, but it was a well-placed header by the former Norwich City player.
Martyn Waghorn then tested Derby goalkeeper Adam Legzdins with a 25-yard free-kick, before striking the top of the crossbar with another dangerous set piece moments later.
Waghorn continued to threaten the Derby goal with an acrobatic volley from Lloyd Dyer`s cross, but Legzdins pulled off a fantastic save to keep the England U21 striker at bay.
It was one-way traffic for the Foxes, and their lead was soon doubled when Anthony Knockaert robbed James O`Connor of the ball before finding Jamie Vardy in the Derby penalty area, and his clever touch to Martyn Waghorn allowed the former Sunderland man to tap the ball past Legzdins into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
It was a very well-worked counter-attacking goal by Leicester, and no more than the hosts deserved after dominating the early exchanges of the match.
Jamie Vardy then came close to adding a third after latching on to a poor defensive pass, before Anthony Knockaert stung the palms of Adam Legzdins with a sublime 20-yard curling strike.
At the other end, Paul Coutts and Michael Jacobs tested Kasper Schmeichel with efforts on target, but the Dane was more than equal to them.
Theo Robinson gave his side a lifeline before half-time after latching on to Michael Jacobs` ball over the Leicester backline and volleying past Kasper Schmeichel from close range.
The goal came during Derby`s best period of the first-half, although it was poor defending by Leicester to give Robinson too much time and space in the penalty area.
Connor Sammon should have equalised for Derby before half-time after breaking past Zak Whitbread and Wes Morgan, but the former Wigan Athletic striker`s shot lacked power and was saved by the feet of Kasper Schmeichel.
Theo Robinson forced another save from Schmeichel as Derby ended the first-half as the stronger of the two sides, with the visitors looked to take the game to their East Midlands counterparts.
Derby continued to improve after the break, much to the apprehension of the home supporters, and the Rams were almost level when Connor Sammon fizzed a dangerous ball across goal to Theo Robinson, but Kasper Schmeichel was able to scramble the ball away to safety.
Nigel Pearson`s introduction of David Nugent with twenty-five minutes remaining proved to be a pivotal moment in the match, and his impact was almost instant when his flick-on header from a goal-kick gave Martyn Waghorn reason to chase down a defender and win the ball in the penalty area, but his chipped effort was tipped onto the crossbar by Legzdins in the Derby goal.
Moments later, however, fellow substitute Ben Marshall picked out Nugent in the penalty area, who rose excellently above Richard Keogh to head the ball into the bottom corner.
It was Nugent`s tenth league goal of the season, and a wonderful way to mark his return after suffering a neck injury in November.
Nugent added his second – and Leicester`s fourth – in the eighty-ninth minute of the match with an emphatic half-volley from eighteen yards after Danny Drinkwater`s initial effort had been blocked.
The goal ended any chance of a Derby comeback and capped off a final scoreline which probably flatted Leicester City after being outplayed for most of the second-half.
The final whistle capped a third win in four for the Foxes and an eighth home league win for Nigel Pearson`s men – much to the delight of the Leicester supporters.