February 03, 2016

LEICESTER, England (AP) Jamie Vardy continued his prolific season by scoring two goals - including a looping volley from 25 meters - to guide Leicester to a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday, preserving the team's three-point lead in the Premier League.

The England striker's stunning, long-distance strike put Leicester ahead in the 60th minute and he made it 18 goals for the season with a shot from close range in the 72nd after running onto Shinji Okazaki's deflected effort.

After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Leicester is providing the most unlikely title challenge in the 24-year history of the Premier League.

With 14 games left this campaign, Leicester is closing in on a Champions League qualification place and is now a definite title contender - especially if Vardy maintains his form.

After scoring 14 times in 13 games - including a Premier League record of 11 matches in a row - Vardy went six league games without a goal.

He has returned with a bang.

Vardy followed up his goal against Stoke last weekend by scoring probably what the striker himself said was the best of his career to give Leicester the lead against Liverpool.

Riyad Mahrez sent forward a long ball that Vardy reached, before letting the ball bounce and looping a shot over Simon Mignolet from just outside the area on the diagonal.

''To be honest, I was looking all game and he was quite far off his line,'' Vardy said of Mignolet. ''I took a chance.''

The goal came just when Liverpool was starting to get on top, and Vardy ended the visitors' hopes 12 minutes later with more of a poacher's finish.

Okazaki drove in a shot that deflected into the path of Vardy, who scooped a close-range effort over Mignolet and into the corner.

Leicester was only denied a first-half lead because of Mignolet, who tipped Okazaki's early header over the bar before doing the same from Mahrez's 30-meter curler.

Liverpool's best two chances fell to left back Alberto Moreno, who blazed one shot over and saw the other beaten out by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester is three points clear of Manchester City, with the teams meeting at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

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