Marc Albrighton ended a goal drought that had lasted more than two years to maintain Leicester’s hopes of winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history.
The winger’s last strike was on Boxing Day 2018, in a 2-1 win over Manchester City, but after James Justin had given Leicester a half-time lead at Stoke with a gem from long range, Albrighton made it two in the 59th minute with a finish the absent Jamie Vardy would have been proud of.
Further goals from Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes rounded off a satisfying afternoon for the Premier League side.
James Justin (centre) celebrates scoring the goal of the game as Leicester beat Stoke 4-0
The Foxes defender cut in from the left-hand side before unleashing a fierce shot at goal
Having skipped past a couple of challenges, Justin fires a looping shot into the top corner
Stoke goalkeeper Joe Bursik is left rooted to the spot as he watches Justin’s shot fly into his net
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
STOKE CITY: (3-5-2) Bursik 7; Souttar 6, Shawcross 6, Batth 5.5 (Matondo 65, 6); Smith 5.5 (Collins 65, 6), Allen 6, Mikel 5.5, Clucas 5.5, McClean 5 (Thompson 65, 6); Vokes 5, Brown 6.5
SUBS NOT USED: Nna Noukeu, Lindsay, Ince, Oakley-Boothe, Verlinden, Cousins
BOOKINGS: Batth (37)
COACH: Michael O’Neill
LEICESTER CITY: (4-2-3-1) Schmeichel 6; Castagne 8, Fofana 7 (Soyuncu 79), Evans 7.5, Justin 7.5; Tielemans 7.5, Ndidi 6.5; Albrighton 7.5, Praet 6.5 (Mendy 90), Barnes 7 (Iheanacho 81); Perez 6.5
SUBS NOT USED: Ward, Morgan, Amartey, Choudhury, Fuchs, Thomas
GOALS: Justin (34); Albrighton (59); Perez (79); Barnes (81)
BOOKINGS: Fofana (28)
COACH: Brendan Rodgers
REFEREE: T Harrington (Cleveland) 6
MAN OF THE MATCH: Timothy Castagne (Leicester City)
VENUE: Bet365 Stadium
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is determined to crown his impressive work at the King Power Stadium with a trophy and 2021 might just be the year, with his side third in the Premier League and also through to the last 32 of the Europa League.
Even though Vardy and James Maddison missed the game as both are carrying injuries – Vardy has a problem with his hip, Maddison with his knee – Rodgers still signalled his intention to take the competition seriously by naming a strong side that included all his available key players.
Barnes was one of those who kept his spot and he might have given Leicester the lead in the eighth minute.
Kasper Schmeichel found Albrighton with a quick kick from the hands and when Albrighton picked out Barnes eight yards out, the winger tried to place his effort into the far corner, forcing a smart save from Joe Bursik.
Stoke looked threatening only from set pieces but they should have taken the lead from one such opportunity just before the half-hour mark.
From Danny Batth’s deep free-kick, Harry Souttar flicked on to Ryan Shawcross, who headed to Sam Vokes seven yards out. The Wales international was unmarked but skied his volley.
Justin was far more precise when his chance came in the 34th minute.
The full-back collected the ball on the left and cut inside Tommy Smith and Joe Allen before curling perfectly into the top corner.
Leicester sought to close the tie before half-time and Barnes should have done so seven minutes before the break when Perez released Albrighton to slide the ball across for Barnes, whose close-range effort lacked the power to beat Bursik.
The visitors continued to look dangerous after the break and after Wilfred Ndidi had shot wide from 20 yards, Albrighton made it two with the hour approaching.
James McClean let in the winger when he slipped attempting to cut out Youri Tielemans’ crossfield pass, and Albrighton turned Batth before producing a sweet finish into the bottom-left corner.
By now Leicester were completely dominant and it was no surprise to see two more goals follow.
First Perez was presented with a simple finish after the outstanding Timothy Castagne had unselfishly laid Dennis Praet’s low cross into his path.
And moments later, Barnes volleyed in from 15 yards when Harry Souttar made a mess of clearing Justin’s cross.
It was a confident strike that summed up an assured display from Rodgers’ men, who will be feared opponents when the draws for the fourth and fifth rounds are made on Monday.
An injury to Praet, who pulled up in the closing minutes when stretching to control a ball, was the day’s only blemish for Leicester.