Leicester City complete 'amazing season' by winning Championship title

Already assured of promotion back to the Premier League, Enzo Maresca's side lifted the trophy with a 3-0 win at Preston

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Leicester City manager Enzo Maresca hailed the club's "amazing season" after the Foxes sealed a record eighth second-tier league title with a 3-0 victory at Preston North End on Monday evening.

Already assured of immediate promotion back to the Premier League following second-placed Leeds United's surprise defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, Leicester secured the Championship title at Deepdale with a game to spare.

Key to their victory on the night and their success throughout the season was 37-year-old captain Jamie Vardy, who took his league goals tally to 18 with a double against Preston. Kasey McAteer scored the third midway through the second half to complete the win and kickstart the title celebrations.

“It’s been an amazing season, tough in some moments, but it’s football and we know that. We enjoy it and it’s all about these guys behind me [the players and fans], it’s fantastic," Maresca said.

“We achieved our target and we see the people happy. We are very happy. It was a good win and we finished our job. Now we enjoy and then we have time to think about it.”

Vardy was one of the heroes of Leicester's memorable Premier League triumph in 2016 and part of the side that also lifted the club's first FA Cup just three years ago.

He played a central role in another night to savour for the travelling fans as he took his tally for the season to 20 goals in all competitions.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game but we got the job done. Celebrating with the fans is great," said Vardy. "How could you not love scoring goals? Especially the second one, scoring in front of the fans – you can't get a better feeling than that."

Vardy opened the scoring when his mishit effort found the far corner on 36 minutes before smashing into an unguarded net after Wout Faes' shot came back off the post.

McAteer set the seal on the title party when he headed in Abdul Fatawu's cross 23 minutes from time.

After retaining much of the squad that were surprisingly relegated last season, Leicester desperately needed to return to the riches of the Premier League at the first attempt with the club running up huge losses.

They were charged in March by the Premier League for alleged breaches of profit and sustainability rules (PSR) relating to their last three years in the top flight. If found guilty, Leicester could start life back in the top flight with a points deduction.

“We knew [at the start of the season] that Leicester’s target is to get promoted but you know sometimes it happens, sometimes strange things happen. But you can see how tough this league is," Maresca said.

“Many teams are fighting but now we finish in the right way. We were favourites but Leeds too and Southampton. You have to do the job and we did it.”

While the targets of promotion and title have been achieved, Maresca insisted that his team will aim to finish the season in style by becoming only the seventh club to reach a century of points in the Championship.

Paying tribute to the fans, Maresca said: “We are very grateful for all of their support throughout the season. [The players] enjoyed for two days [after promotion], but when you work hard and you are rewarded with something, you have to enjoy.

“So they enjoyed it and tonight they showed their professionalism. We’ll try to prepare for the [Blackburn] game in the best way and finish with a win to get 100 points.”

The battle to join them in the Premier League next season is set to go to the final day of the Championship season on Saturday.

Leeds sit second on goal difference ahead of Ipswich, who have a game in hand away at Coventry on Tuesday.

Ipswich then host Huddersfield, who are practically relegated, on the final day while Leeds face Southampton at Elland Road.

Only the top two are automatically promoted, while teams that finish from third to sixth go into the play-offs to determine the third promotion spot.

Updated: April 30, 2024, 5:40 AM