Ross Barkley drilled in an injury-time strike to maintain Aston Villa’s 100% start to the season as they edged to victory at Leicester.
The game looked set to be the first goalless match of the campaign, but on-loan Chelsea midfielder Barkley finished incisively into the bottom corner to give Villa all three points and send them second in the Premier League.
Villa have won their opening four top-flight games for the first time in 90 years.
It had been a drab Sunday night encounter until Barkley’s 91st-minute effort, with neither goalkeeper called on to make difficult saves.
Douglas Luiz had curled a 25-yard shot straight at Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, while Villa’s Emiliano Martinez kept out Youri Tielemans’ deflected long-range strike.
Dean Smith’s Villa are just one point behind leaders Everton with a game in hand, while Leicester remain fourth.
The fixture was a poignant one, as last season’s equivalent back in March was the final game staged with fans before the coronavirus-enforced suspension to the season.
Since then fans have not been allowed into stadia – but had a crowd been in attendance, many may have been thinking of an early exit as the contest appeared to be drifting towards a bore draw before Barkley’s late intervention.
Villa narrowly avoided relegation last season but have started this campaign in magnificent fashion, backing up their 7-2 dismantling of champions Liverpool last time out with a narrow victory on this occasion.
They have won four Premier League games in a row for the first time since 2009, stretching their unbeaten run in the competition to eight games.
The signing of Chelsea’s Barkley on a season-long loan came as a surprise, but it looks to be an inspired acquisition by Smith as the England international has already contributed three goals in five games.
The goal was a superb strike from the former Everton player, striding forward as the Leicester defence backed off before firing a crisp, low drive past the reach of Schmeichel.
Villa created very little before then, Mahmoud Trezeguet’s first-time shot sailing narrowly wide, while substitute Bertrand Traore’s header was smothered by the Leicester goalkeeper.
Foxes fail to fire
Leicester were in the top four for much of last season before falling away after the restart, and they began this term with three straight victories.
But they have since faltered, losing back-to-back games, and rarely looked like finding the net against Villa.
Without the injured Jamie Vardy to call upon up front, Leicester struggled to carve out meaningful chances and Belgium full-back Timothy Castagne and Nigeria forward Kelechi Iheanacho both saw their efforts comfortably saved by Martinez.
Even the introduction of the rarely-sighted Algerian Islam Slimani, making his first Foxes appearance since January 2018 following loan spells away, could not spark any attacking impetus for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Promising defender Wesley Fofana, 19, was given his debut after signing for £30m from Saint-Etienne, but there was little the French teenager could do to prevent Barkley’s superb strike.
Leicester are in Europa League action on Thursday against Zorya Luhansk (kick-off 20:00 BST), while Villa look to maintain their impressive Premier League start when they host Leeds next Friday (20:00).
Villa keep it clean – the stats
- Aston Villa have won their opening four games of a league season for the first time since the 1930-31 campaign, when they went on to finish second in the top flight.
- Leicester have suffered consecutive Premier League home defeats without scoring for the first time since February 2017.
- Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (W6 D2); their longest run without defeat in the competition since October 2011 (10 games).
- Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers suffered his first defeat against Aston Villa in the Premier League since September 2014 (1-0 in charge of Liverpool), having won each of his previous four meetings with them since then.
- Aston Villa have kept a clean sheet in both of their two away games in the Premier League this term, after keeping none in 19 away games in the competition last season.
- Ross Barkley has scored in each of his two Premier League appearances for Aston Villa (2 goals), as many as he managed in his last 42 for Chelsea before moving to Villa Park.
- Since the start of last season, Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish has won 182 fouls in the Premier League (including five tonight) – the most of any player in the competition.
- 27CastagneBooked at 73mins
- 6EvansBooked at 74mins
- 24MendySubstituted forChoudhuryat 78′minutes
- 17PérezBooked at 31mins
- 8TielemansBooked at 41mins
- 26PraetSubstituted forMaddisonat 68′minutes
- 14IheanachoSubstituted forSlimaniat 71′minutes
- 2CashBooked at 40mins
- 6Douglas LuizBooked at 70mins
- 7McGinnBooked at 32mins
- 17TrézéguetSubstituted forTraoréat 81′minutes
- 21El Ghazi
- 27El Mohamady
- Jonathan Moss
Match ends, Leicester City 0, Aston Villa 1.
Second Half ends, Leicester City 0, Aston Villa 1.
Ezri Konsa Ngoyo (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by James Maddison (Leicester City).
Foul by Ross Barkley (Aston Villa).
Wesley Fofana (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Leicester City 0, Aston Villa 1. Ross Barkley (Aston Villa) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by John McGinn.
Attempt saved. Bertrand Traoré (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by John McGinn with a cross.
Offside, Aston Villa. John McGinn tries a through ball, but Ollie Watkins is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Aston Villa) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Grealish.
Attempt missed. Matt Targett (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Kasper Schmeichel.
Offside, Aston Villa. Emiliano Martínez tries a through ball, but Ollie Watkins is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Harvey Barnes (Leicester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Justin.
Substitution, Aston Villa. Bertrand Traoré replaces Trézéguet.
Attempt missed. Islam Slimani (Leicester City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Ayoze Pérez with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Ayoze Pérez (Leicester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Maddison.
James Maddison (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa).
Substitution, Leicester City. Hamza Choudhury replaces Nampalys Mendy.