Leicester City up to second after beating Aston Villa

Foxes leapfrog Manchester United, who play later on Sunday, courtesy of 2-1 victory at Villa Park with Maddison and Barnes on target

Leicester City's English midfielder Harvey Barnes (R) celebrates with Leicester City's Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans (L) after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Leicester City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on February 21, 2021. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
 / AFP / POOL / Tim Keeton / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
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James Maddison and Harvey Barnes scored quick-fire first-half goals as Leicester City notched up a 2-1 win away to Aston Villa to go second in the Premier League table, with third-placed Manchester United taking on Newcastle United later on Sunday.

Villa suffered a blow before kick-off when playmaker and captain Jack Grealish was ruled out with a leg injury, and Leicester were quick to exploit his absence.

With England manager Gareth Southgate watching from the stands, Maddison put Leicester into the lead in the 19th minute, picking up a pass from Barnes before curling a low, bouncing shot into the bottom corner.

Barnes made it 2-0 four minutes later, reacting quickest to lash a rebound from a Jamie Vardy shot high into the net.

"We knew they'd be up for it, so we knew we'd have to start fast. It was part of our game plan. We knew if we'd get shots in and around the box we'd have a chance," Barnes said. "I've added goals to my game and I'm really happy with that. It's down to confidence."

Villa struck back three minutes into the second half as Matt Targett's cross was helped on by John McGinn. Bertrand Traore was on hand to drill the ball into the net.

Maddison left the field with what looked to be a hip injury in the 64th minute, but Leicester continued to create chances. Vardy was unlucky not to score with a shot that flew across the face of the goal and wide.

Without Grealish, Villa had little to offer in attack as the visitors held on comfortably to win.

The victory sees Leicester move past Manchester United and into second on 49 points, seven behind leaders Manchester City and three ahead of United. Aston Villa are eighth on 36 points.

"I was absolutely delighted. I thought some of our football and the speed of our game was really, really good. We didn't have too many concerns defensively," Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers said.

"They [Maddison and Barnes] are getting better all the time. Maddison occupied the spaces really well. He's so creative. Harvey I thought was incredible. His finish looked easy but it wasn't. Both those boys are improving constantly."

Leicester City's English midfielder James Maddison (C) shoots to score the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Leicester City at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on February 21, 2021. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
 / AFP / POOL / Michael Regan / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications.
James Maddison scores Leicester's opening goal against Aston Villa. AFP