Brendan Rodgers secured his first win as Leicester City manager to push Fulham closer to relegation, as Jamie Vardy reached a century of goals for the Foxes.
Rodgers – who started with a defeat at Watford after his switch from Celtic – was afforded a warm reception from fans at the King Power Stadium before kick-off and they were able to celebrate with a victory.
Vardy was the key figure throughout, unselfishly setting up a simple first-half finish for Youri Tielemans before rising to the occasion after substitute Floyd Ayite’s scrappy equaliser for the Cottagers after the break.
He raced on to James Maddison’s perfect through ball to put Leicester back in front with 12 minutes left, then got his 100th goal for the club when he turned a finish past Sergio Rico after 86 minutes.
Fulham, under the interim management of Scott Parker, had no answer and this is a defeat that leaves them cut adrift from safety and surely on their way back into the Championship after just one season in the top flight.
Vardy shows importance
Vardy’s relationship with Claude Puel was always a bone of contention before the Frenchman’s sacking – but he has demonstrated his continued importance in the first two games of the Rodgers era.
Vardy and Puel always seemed ill at ease and it looked like the coach never fully trusted the former England striker in his preferred style.
Here, and indeed when he scored in Rodgers’ first game at Watford, Vardy has made the sort of impact that means he will figure prominently as the new manager formulates his early plans.
Another stylish performer was Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans, on loan from Monaco, and he is the sort of player Rodgers relishes having.
The 21-year-old ran the show in the first half, not just scoring a relatively simple goal but demonstrating the sort of vision that will make him a hot property whether he stays at Leicester or not.
Rodgers was beaming at the final whistle, delighted to get those first three points on the board.
The Cottagers on the way down
Fulham’s fate is surely sealed after this latest defeat – 13 points from safety and 11 behind Cardiff City above them after the Bluebirds’ home win over West Ham.
And performances like that produced in the first half on Saturday are why they are where they are – players strolling around without any urgency, seemingly oblivious to the seriousness of their position.
Ayite’s equaliser prompted a show of fight, but in the end cheap goals were conceded and relegation is the price they will pay.
This cannot be put at Parker’s door. The damage was done in a summer of scattergun recruitment, then poor results under Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri.
It is now merely a question of when their return to the Championship is confirmed – and then it is a question of whether Parker is given the full-time task of rediscovering a club who have lost their way.