Jordan Blackwell's Leicester City player ratings v Preston as Vardy helps wrap up title in style

Leicester City wrapped up the Championship title in style as Jamie Vardy’s double helped put Preston to the sword.

Vardy, in what could be his final away game as a City player with his contract running out, bagged his 19th and 20th goals of the campaign to earn the victory that sealed top spot for Enzo Maresca’s side. Kasey McAteer nodded in the third of a dominant away performance.

There was no sign of a hangover from the weekend promotion celebrations as City ripped through North End to send an already pumped-up away following wild. They will now get to lift the trophy at home to Blackburn on Saturday.

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With promotion wrapped up, Maresca made four changes to his team. In goal, Jakub Stolarczyk was handed just his second league appearance of the season, and his first since a clean sheet at Huddersfield in August, while further forward, Conor Coady, Yunus Akgun, and Kasey McAteer started, the latter in the 11 for the first time since February after he recovered from a hamstring injury. Mads Hermansen, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, and Stephy Mavididi were handed rare rests.

But while the title was still to play for, the 5,700 travelling fans were in celebration mode, with scarves, flags, inflatable bananas and flamingos waved around as they got the party started early. During a slow first 20 minutes, there were three stoppages while beach balls were cleared from the pitch.

But once the City fans kept their props to themselves and the players warmed up, Maresca’s side began to dominate, and the chances flowed. Yunus slipped a ball through to Vardy and he was denied by Freddie Woodman’s legs, with McAteer mazy run ending with a tame shot.

City should have taken the lead on the half-hour mark when McAteer met Abdul Fatawu’s deep cross with a free header he somehow placed wide. But City didn’t have to wait long after that to take the lead.

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It was a brilliant move with a poor finish, but it ended up in the net. Harry Winks excellently broke free of pressure, Wilfred Ndidi superbly switched play, and Fatawu and Yunus linked up to set up Vardy, who scuffed his shot on the spin but fooled Woodman, the ball trickling into the net.

And Vardy had his second just after the break. This time, it was Wout Faes who did all of the hard work. The Belgian charged past one man, then chopped inside another before firing a shot at goal. It bounced off the base of the post, off Woodman’s back and sat nicely for Vardy to slam in from a couple of yards out.

Moments later, he had a chance for a hat-trick as he latched onto a loose ball and ran at goal, only to be denied by a fine low Woodman save. City’s third was not too far away though as Fatawu crossed for McAteer, with the winger making no mistake with this free header, finding the bottom corner.

There were chances for more. After a hat-trick in his last game, Fatawu tried his luck with another strike from range, this one hitting the post, while Woodman was needed to keep out Winks. But City didn’t need another. The victory, and the title, was already secured. Here’s how we scored the players.

Jakub Stolarczyk: Handed a second league outing, he got a second league clean sheet. Not that he had much to do bar one save at the death to bail out Coady. With his feet, he looked uncomfortable at times, nearly putting City in trouble. 6

Ricardo Pereira: You know what you’re going to get from Ricardo. All of the basics were done with supreme quality, while there were a couple of strong tackles and a couple of delightful flicks too. 8

Conor Coady: There was a wayward pass early on but once he warmed up, he played plenty of crisp balls into forward areas and always looked to get Fatawu into the game. And make things happen. Defensively, he was strong, making a couple of good blocks, but he did make one late error that needed a Stolarczyk save. 7

Jannik Vestergaard: There were a few uncharacteristically poor passes in the first half, but he got those out of his system and spread play really well in the second half. At the back, he won important headers and cleared dangerous crosses. 7

Wout Faes: He was aggressive in the duels and was always looking to carry the ball forward. And he did so superbly for Vardy’s second goal, skipping by two men before firing a shot against the post.8

Harry Winks: His composure in tight areas was outstanding. It was his cool ahead and skill under pressure that started the move for a lot of City attacks in the first half, including the first goal. In the second period, he always used the ball well to allow City to keep the pressure on and Preston penned in. 9

Wilfred Ndidi: He made his usual underlapping run on the left, not always to great effect, despite finding McAtee regularly. He was sloppy on the ball at times too, but did ping a great crossfield pass to Fatawu for the opening goal. 6

Yunus Akgun: There were a few occasions where he gave the ball away really cheaply, something you can’t do in a Maresca team. But he set up an early chance for Vardy, and teed up his first goal too, while dribbled forward well when space opened up. 7

Abdul Fatawu: One great cross for McAteer should have been converted in the first half but he found him again in the second period to get a deserved assist. It didn’t always pay off for him, but he was always a threat and came close to another fantastic goal with a shot against the post. 8

Jamie Vardy: His first was scuffed in, and his second was from underneath the crossbar, but you have to be there to score them. And Vardy was in the right place at the right time all night, his movement excellent. Where’s that new contract? 8

Kasey McAteer: He was always available out wide and carried the ball with threat, shrugging off defenders if needed to. He should have scored his first-half header, but was not disheartened and popped up to nod home in the second half. 8

Hamza Choudhury: Won a couple of decent tackles and kept the ball moving well. 6

Stephy Mavididi: He looked eager to get himself on the scoresheet but he shut down well by Preston. 6

Tom Cannon: He looked really quick and made plenty of runs to the channel. 6

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall: He got crowded out at the top end but was good otherwise. 6

James Justin: Only on the pitch for a few minutes. N/A

Who was your star man this evening? Let us know in the comments section below.