Jamie Vardy’s second-half double inspired Leicester to a 3-0 victory over relegated Norwich at the King Power Stadium, ending a seven-game winless run.
With Norwich’s fate already sealed and European qualification out of Leicester’s reach, Wednesday’s encounter had the feel of an end-of-season game with little on the line.
Goalkeepers Kasper Schmeichel and Angus Gunn stole the show in the first half, with Norwich striker Teemu Pukki striking the post in stoppage-time.
It took the returning Vardy, making his first Premier League start since March, to break the deadlock, scoring twice in quick succession (54, 62) to seal the win for Leicester, before James Maddison made it 3-0 (70) against his former side.
Norwich remain rooted to the bottom of the table after five back-to-back defeats, while Leicester move up to 10th after their first Premier League win for a month.
How Vardy gave the Foxes their bite back
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers told his players to put a marker down for next season against Norwich, but it was a tricky start for the Foxes as the visitors continued to trouble them on the break.
Leicester dominated possession in what was an open first half, but Gunn – coming in for the axed Tim Krul – produced a double save after 11 minutes, denying Maddison from range, before getting up quickly to keep out Vardy on the rebound.
He was on hand again minutes later to save another Maddison effort, this time at an angle on the overlap, but Norwich continued to pose a threat on the break.
Less than five minutes later, it was Schmeichel’s turn. The Leicester goalkeeper rushing off his line to deny teenager Tony Springett on his Premier League debut, before reacting quickly to stop Pukki’s follow-up.
There was no let-up for Schmeichel, as he was called back into action when Dimitris Giannoulis delivered a well-struck effort from the edge of the area, but the Danish international was equal to it.
Gunn had to be at full stretch to keep out Ademola Lookman just inside half an hour after a cut-back from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, pulling off a David de Gea-esque save with his legs.
There was a late chance for Pukki – after a neat through ball by Springett – but he struck the post when one on one with Schmeichel as the sides went in level at the break.
Leicester boss Rodgers freshened things up at half-time, bringing on Nampalys Mendy for Lookman, and the hosts looked like a different side.
It took a cruel deflection for Gunn to be beaten, as Vardy’s effort from inside the area bounced off Scotland international defender Grant Hanley before dipping in over the head of the Norwich goalkeeper.
Norwich, who remained competitive for the first 45 minutes, struggled to recover, with Vardy – again being fed through by Harvey Barnes – delivering a ruthless finish to make it 2-0 eight minutes later.
Maddison piled the misery on his former side when he fired in Leicester’s third with his left foot on the half volley after Dewsbury-Hall’s cross was parried by Gunn only as far as the midfielder on the penalty spot.
Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy delivered a ruthless showing in the second half, which showed Leicester just what they have been missing after a difficult season with injury for the 35-year-old striker.
Despite his struggles with fitness, those were Vardy’s 11th and 12th Premier League goals of the season in just 22 appearances.
If the Foxes can keep Vardy injury-free next season, there is no doubt they will be far more competitive in their hunt for European football.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said: “It’s been a tough season for him, for players it’s about rhythm and playing. He is such a brilliant guy, so hungry and he showed that this evening. Two really good goals and he was a real threat.
“I kept him on to see if he can get his hat-trick. He’s older now so every minute counts. He gave everything.
“He was tireless, chasing lost causes, getting blocks. The ball didn’t quite fall for him sometimes but he was outstanding and the second goal was fantastic.”
Rodgers targeting top-10 finish for Leicester
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers:
“We were much better in the second half, the first half was too passive and we weren’t aggressive enough.
“We needed to change the structure of the team and the midfield and from the first roll of the ball in the second half we were very good.
“I said to the players, we don’t want to go out with a whimper this season, it felt a bit flat at the weekend. We had a good chat and we want to finish in the top 10 and put a marker down for next season.”
Smith: I’ve applied to finish the season early!
Norwich head coach Dean Smith:
“It was a better performance but a similar result,”
“They started better than we did but we grew into the game, confidence started growing and we created some good chances.
“We found it difficult to live with the tempo in the second half and the first goal changes our mindset and from then we had to suffer. It became a damage limitation exercise.
“I’ve applied to the Premier League to see if we can play Wolves on Thursday and Tottenham on Friday (to end the season quickly).”
Leicester are back in action at Watford on Sunday; kick-off at 2pm. Brendan Rodgers then takes his side to Chelsea next Thursday; kick-off at 8pm.
Norwich head to Molineux on Sunday to face Wolves; kick-off at 2pm. The Canaries then host Tottenham the following Sunday on the final day of the season as Antonio Conte’s side continue their chase for a top-four finish; kick-off at 3pm.