Maddison ruins Ranieri's return as Leicester beats Watford

LEICESTER, England (AP) — James Maddison inspired Leicester to a 4-2 win over Watford in the Premier League to ruin Claudio Ranieri’s return on Sunday.

The England international grabbed a goal and provided two assists for Jamie Vardy as the Foxes closed the gap to the top six amid blizzard conditions.

Ademola Lookman’s strike also helped Leicester claim just a third win in 10 league games.

Ranieri was axed by Leicester in 2017, nine months after winning the title in a season that is unlikely to be repeated. The Watford manager received a standing ovation from Leicester fans but, aside from Joshua King and Emmanuel Dennis’ goals, that was as good as it got for the 70-year-old Italian.

Watford gifted the hosts a 16th-minute lead. Jonny Evans launched a harmless ball forward that should have been comfortable for William Ekong to deal with but the defender ducked underneath expecting goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann to collect. Ekong had not seen Maddison stealing in behind him and the midfielder seized the chance by finding the corner of the net.

Wilfred Ndidi’s reckless trip on Dennis gave referee Andrew Madley little option and King’s penalty beat Kasper Schmeichel for his fifth goal of the season to make it 1-1 in the 30th.

Four minutes later, Maddison clipped an exquisite pass over the top for Vardy, who lifted the ball over an advancing Bachmann from an angle. The former England striker made it 3-1 in the 42nd when he again combined with Maddison to glance in his corner.

As the snow got worse so did Leicester’s defending and Watford grasped a lifeline when Dennis robbed Timothy Castagne to dink the ball over Schmeichel.

But it was another false dawn as Lookman added a fourth for the Foxes, tapping in Harvey Barnes’ cross soon after.

Watford remains 16th.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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