STOKE CITY slipped to a second successive defeat as Premier League champions Leicester City continued their recent resurgence.
The Foxes eased any lingering relegation fears with a 2-0 win over Mark Hughes men at the King Power Stadium on a showery afternoon in the East Midlands.
Goals either side of half-time from Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy sealed the fate of the Potters who struggled to reproduce the form they had shown in holding Manchester City and in being narrowly edged out by leaders Chelsea.
Hughes made two changes to his starting line-up with Glen Johnson replacing the suspended Phil Bardsley at right back and Glenn Whelan slotting into midfield in place of the injured Geoff Cameron.
Leicester went into the game on the back a four-game winning run under new boss Craig Shakespeare and they settled quickest.
Yohan Benalouane squandered an early opportunity as he fired wide of the target from a promising – if tight – angle.
Ryan Shawcross was booked after 15 minutes for an uncompromising challenge on Demarai Gray and the resultant free-kick prompted an almighty scramble in the Potters’ six-yard box. Robert Huth’s initial header was partially cleared by Erik Pieters but Vardy was unable to convert from point-blank range.
Gray went close with a pile-driver from 25 yards out but the deadlock was broken soon afterwards – in spectacular style with Ndidi finding the target from a similar distance after City had conceded possession on their left-hand touchline.
The goal had been coming but it served to spark the Potters into life and they went close to levelling matters 13 minutes before the break. Ramadan’s trickery took him past Danny Simpson and when his slide-rule pass found Marko Arnautovic with his back to goal six yards out, the Austrian turned away from his marker but only found the side-netting.
Ramadan created an opportunity for Saido Berahino in the Leicester area but his shot was comfortably dealt with by Kasper Schmeichel.
At the other end, Riyad Mahrez was allowed to run unchallenged deep into Stoke City territory and it took a great save by Grant to deny him a goal and Leicester’s second.
The King Power Stadium faithful didn’t have to wait too long to celebrate a second goal as, with barely a minute of the second half on the clock, Vardy emphatically volleyed home from Danny Simpson’s cross from the right.
Stoke were forced to make a change on 53 with Peter Crouch replacing Jon Walters, who limped to the dressing room and will be a concern for Hughes ahead of Tuesday’s game against Burnley at Turf Moor.
Grant made another smart save to deny Shinji Okazaki following a mistake by Glen Johnson, while Schmeichel had to be alert to deny Ramadan as the Potters looked to establish a foothold in the game.
Leicester’s pursuit of a third goal was thwarted by Grant as he made another excellent stop to deny Mahrez after he was found in an unmarked position 12 yards out by Vardy.
Crouch went into the book for a clumsy challenge on Okazaki before Hughes made a double change with just over 20 minutes remaining with Mame Diouf replacing Berahino and Charlie Adam coming for Glenn Whelan.
Arnautovic found the back of Schmeichel’s net on 71 minutes but referee Lee Mason had already blown for offside that looked dubious to say the very least.
Adam tried his luck with an effort from 20 yards out that failed to trouble Schmeichel, while Mahrez squandered a gilt-edged chance to kill off the contest completely 11 minutes from time as he fired wide of the target after ignoring the unmarked Vardy.
Crouch compounded a disappointing afternoon for the Potters when he glanced a header from close range wide of the target with just Schmeichel to beat, while the Foxes' No. 1 beat out a header from the veteran striker in the dying seconds.