England striker Vardy scored in first-half stoppage-time at St James’ Park when he cut inside Moussa Sissoko to equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games for his club.
However, Vardy is still short of all the time English top-flight record for goals in an unbroken run of 12 club matches set by Jimmy Dunne of Sheffield United in the old First Division during the 1931/32 season.
Few would have tipped either Vardy, who scored just four goals last term and was playing non-league football just a few years ago, or Leicester to enjoy the heights they have both achieved this season.
But Italian manager Claudio Ranieri’s side secured victory and a place at the summit of English football when Leonardo Ulloa headed in the Foxes’ second goal in the 62nd minute, moments after Vardy had hit the bar.
Japanese substitute Shinji Okazaki put the result beyond doubt by making it 3-0 seven minutes from time.
However, Leicester’s stay at the top will be brief if Manchester City, the leaders heading into this weekend’s round of matches, beat Liverpool in Saturday’s late kick-off at Eastlands.
Arsenal, who could have gone top themselves on Saturday, suffered a shock 2-1 loss away to West Bromwich Albion.
It was just their third league defeat this season and hardly ideal preparation for their must-win Champions League group match at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.
The Gunners took a 28th-minute lead through France striker Olivier Giroud but found themselves 2-1 down before halftime after James Morrison and an own-goal from Mikel Arteta put the Baggies in front.
Santi Cazorla had a chance to equalise late on but blasted a penalty over the crossbar.
Champions Chelsea eased the pressure on manager Jose Mourinho with just their fourth win in 13 league matches this season as they beat Norwich 1-0 thanks to Diego Costa’s 64th-minute goal at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United made it eight games unbeaten in all competitions with a 2-1 win away to Watford in Saturday’s early kick-off – the first Premier League match since the Paris terror attacks of November 13 which killed 130 people.
‘La Marseillaise’, France’s national anthem, was played before kick-off at Vicarage Road as a mark of respect in a gesture that was repeated ahead of all of Saturday’s Premier League matches.
Watford captain Troy Deeney appeared to have gained a point for the home side with an 87th-minute penalty only to deflect Bastian Schewinsteiger’s stoppage-time effort into his own net after United had taken the lead through Memphis Depay.
“In football you always have 90-93 minutes,” German midfielder Schweinsteiger told BT Sport. “You always have to believe.”
Frustrated Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores said: “It was painful to lose in extra-time because I think we deserved to draw.”
Everton ensured Aston Villa stayed rooted to the foot of the table with a 4-0 win at Goodison Park.
Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku scored two goals each to leave French manager Remi Garde still searching for his first win as Villa boss.
Stoke striker Bojan Krkic gave his side a 1-0 win away to Southampton while Swansea came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Bournemouth, a heartening result for under-fire manager Garry Monk.
Tottenham play London rivals West Ham on Sunday, with Monday’s top flight match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland.
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