Date:Sunday April 10 2011
Had it not been for last weekend's cruel late blow at Middlesbrough, Leicester fans could well be daring to dream right now.
Yesterday's slick home performance over fellow promotion-hunters Burnley looks to have arrived too late.
Five points off the top six with only six games remaining looks a daunting prospect, conjuring the only realistic option of maximum points from all if City are to have any hopes of an unlikely play-off finish.
But if parting gifts are going to arrive in this style, then Sven-Goran Eriksson will not mind too much.
The Swede admitted his anger after the superb display from his side at the Walkers Stadium, an understandable reaction after seeing his side take just one victory from their previous seven fixtures.
Everybody at Filbert Way was thinking along the same lines in truth - it was genuinely difficult to tell how such a side could have effectively scuppered their promotion hopes in recent weeks.
This time there were no defensive lapses to let in the Clarets, and certainly no signs of woe in front of goal that have often been present against fellow top-half sides this campaign.
Even without the reliable Kyle Naughton at right-back who was lost to illness midweek, the Foxes backline looked assured throughout with Benfica loanee Miguel Vitor excellent in the England Under-21 international's place.
Sterling contributions from Sol Bamba and Ben Mee at the heart of defence were added to in style as the much-maligned Patrick van Aanholt capped off a fine afternoon's scoring with the goal of the game.
Fulham loanee Diomansy Kamara delighted the home support on his Walkers debut with an excellent man of the match performance, opening the scoring in the first half before winning the penalty which ultimately killed off the visitors.
But it was not just his contributions in front of goal which pleased City fans so much. Kamara is a man out to prove his worth, an attitude evident in the way he dropped back into midfield time and time again to free up space for both Andy King and Richie Wellens.
A class apart, some may argue. Mark Hughes probably won't.
Yakubu's game is different entirely. Foxes fans may have grown to become tiresome with the Nigerian's seemingly subdued showings in recent weeks, but his contributions should not go amiss.
The powerful striker was on hand to muscle off a helpless Burnley defender to assist Kamara for the opener, before dragging three defenders out wide to allow Andy King the honours of teeing up Van Aanholt for the fourth. Simple things, but vital when they matter.
But everybody in a blue shirt played their part in a glowing afternoon, posing few questions about Eriksson's potential starting lineup for the visit of Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening.
Another victory would doubtlessly raise hopes one more, but with tricky must-win fixtures against Reading and Nottingham Forest on the horizon, the task ahead remains steep.
But not over entirely. Win every match from here on in and a top six spot would seem a realistic proposition - but that appears bare minimum with Millwall, Leeds and Hull fighting hard for the right to be in the mix.
The players know their battle ahead - this was a good start. Play like this for the remainder of the season and the distant dream could begin to become a possibility, however difficult the road ahead may seem.
It's the hope that gets us all.
Date:Sunday April 10 2011
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|West Ham||1||-||2||Leicester City|
|1. Man City||3||3||0||0||+8||9|
|2. Leicester City||3||2||1||0||+3||7|
|4. Man Utd||3||2||1||0||+2||7|
|5. Crystal Palace||3||2||0||1||+2||6|
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