Abdul Fatawu’s hat-trick helped Leicester City take a giant step towards an immediate Premier League return as they ruthlessly ended Southampton’s realistic hopes of automatic promotion.

The Foxes need to win one of their remaining two matches against Preston or Blackburn to go up, but their place in the top flight could also be sealed as early as Friday if Leeds lose at QPR.

A cool, low finish from Fatawu gave the hosts a deserved first-half lead against a Saints side that struggled to deal with the Foxes’ press and purpose before the break.

Southampton improved vastly immediately after half-time but were overawed by the clinical Foxes, who doubled their lead through Wilfred Ndidi’s powerful header.

A stunning second from Fatawu followed, then the winger set up Jamie Vardy for his 18th of the season before the former England striker provided the assist for the Ghana international to complete his treble.

The victory moves Leicester four points clear at the summit and keeps them on track to amass 100 points.

Fourth-placed Saints are mathematically capable of finishing the season equal on points with second-placed Leeds, though Daniel Farke’s side have a hugely superior goal difference.

A Leeds draw against QPR on Friday or an Ipswich win at Hull on Saturday would be enough to consign the south coast club to the play-offs.


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