It might not match the magnitude of 2016 but Leicester City are once again in the history books. This time, as the team to have achieved the biggest away victory in the history of top-flight English football, a record dating back to the 1800s.
It featured two hat-tricks, for Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy, after a red card for Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand in just the 10th minute. Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison were the other scorers.
“Perfect performance, wasn’t it? From the very first whistle, we showed our intent,” Brendan Rodgers, the Leicester manager, said.
“I’ve been in games with Liverpool where we were 5-0 against Arsenal after 50 minutes. The message I gave at half-time to the players was to see it as 0-0. We played like a proper team. We showed purpose. All round, collectively, an outstanding night. Great for the supporters. Hopefully they’ll be very proud.”
Leicester’s odds for a second title were slashed to 60/1 by the final whistle, after which their supporters stayed to serenade the team and sing of a European tour. “We just want to finish as high as possible and I’d never put any limits on that,” Rodgers said.
By contrast, this will surely be remembered as one of the darkest days in Southampton’s recent history, for whom the previously popular Ralph Hasenhuttl is now under real pressure.
“I must apologise for this performance and take 100 per cent responsibility for what happened,” he said. “You can call it, if you want, gave up, you can call it helpless. It was a disaster.
“My entire life, I haven’t had a game like this. I want to say that I am proud of the fans. They were staying in the stadium until the end of the game. It was not easy to watch it for anybody who is a Southampton fan.”
Who enjoyed that one? pic.twitter.com/4ZazaMBwrq
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 25, 2019
Even before this calamity, Southampton had not won at home since April and supporters are beginning to resign themselves to a third successive season fighting a relegation battle.
Many fans had left before half-time, at which point the score was 5-0. Those that stayed watched with bemusement as their team conceded a further four. Next up? Two away games against Manchester City, in the League Cup and Premier League. This Halloween is set to be much more trick than treat.
The night unravelled after Bertrand was sent off in the aftermath of Leicester’s first goal, created and scored by the brilliant Ben Chilwell. The England left-back passed to Harvey Barnes, whose shot was unconvincingly parried by Angus Gunn, allowing Chilwell to convert.
Bertrand’s high lunge at Perez in the build-up was then punished retrospectively by the video assistant referee and Andre Marriner produced the red card.
Leicester were three up before 20 minutes. Chilwell combined with James Maddison before Yan Valery deflected the ball into the path of Tielemans, who swept home from the edge of the area. For the third, Perez exchanged passes with Tielemans before burying his shot low at the near post.
Southampton’s night then lurched from nightmarish to farcical as Leicester added another two goals, becoming only the second team to score five before half-time in a Premier League away match after Manchester City in a 6-1 win at Burnley in April 2010.
Chilwell was again pivotal, crossing to the far post where the excellent Perez was on hand to smash first time into the roof of the net. Vardy then seized on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s misplaced header and skipped past Maya Yoshida to score.
In a futile attempt at limit the damage, Hasenhuttl brought on defenders Kevin Danso and Jack Stephens at half-time, yet two more goals quickly followed. First, Perez completed his hat-trick, deftly controlling Barnes’s pass on his chest and converting into the corner. Then Vardy headed in his second from another Chilwell cross.
There followed a period of relative calm before two more goals in the last five minutes left everyone reaching for the history books. The eighth came courtesy of Maddison’s beautifully struck free-kick. Then Jan Bednarek brought down Vardy and the England striker wrapped up his hat-trick from the spot.