Despite a spirited come-back, Derby County suffered their fourth consecutive defeat on the road, as Leicester City secured all three points with a 4-1 victory at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes were unforgiving in the opening 20 minutes as goals from Zak Whitbread and Martyn Waghorn looked to have given the Rams a mountain to climb.
However, Nigel Clough's men fought back with Theo Robinson’s well taken volley before the break and second-half opportunities from Conor Sammon and Jeff Hendrick almost had Derby back on level terms.
But for all the Rams’ hard work and endeavor, Leicester wrapped up the victory in the final 15 minutes courtesy of a double from substitute David Nugent.
The Rams had to contend with wave after wave of Leicester attack in the opening quarter, and inside the first six minutes, Nigel Pearson’s men took the lead.
Former Sunderland striker Waghorn’s corner was met by the thumping head of Whitbread who powered the ball past Adam Legzdins
And four minutes later, Waghorn forced the Rams’ shot-stopper into a smart save, after the striker sent a 30-yard free-kick heading for the top corner, before Waghorn sent another set-piece onto the top of the crossbar just moments later.
The opening period was Leicester Vs Legzdins as Waghorn had a spectacular volley brilliantly saved, before Anthony Knockaert had a curling shot tipped over by the former Burton Albion ‘keeper.
Unfortunately for the Rams, it proved to be a matter of time before the Foxes found a second goal of the evening, as the lively Waghorn pounced to double the home side’s goal tally in the 23rd minute.
James O’Connor’s loose pass was picked up by Knockart who drove forward at the Rams’ back four. The midfielder fed Jamie Vardy in the penalty area, who then swept the ball to strike partner Waghorn, and the 22-year-old slid it past Legzdins to put Leicester two ahead.
Then Vardy almost capitalised on a mix-up between Richard Keogh and John Brayford. The former Fleetwood striker sprinted towards goal, but once again Legzdins stood up to deny the striker.
However, after very dominate opening half-an-hour from the home side, the Rams began to grow in confidence, and they almost levelled through Paul Coutts’ low drive that was well held by Kasper Schmeichel, just a minute prior to Michael Jacobs’ 20-yard effort that was again comfortably saved by the Danish goalkeeper.
And with 38 minutes gone at the King Power Stadium, the Rams found themselves back in the game, when Robinson halved the deficit as he expertly brought down Jacobs’ clever through ball to lash the it past Schmeichel.
Two minutes later, Derby almost levelled the score line as Sammon burst through the middle of the pitch following Will Hughes’ pass, but the striker’s subsequent effort lacked conviction as Schmeichel rushed out to thwart the former Wigan Athletic man.
Robinson was close to making it 10 for the season when he opened up his body and sent a 20-yard curling strike goalwards, but the forward’s effort was palmed away by Schmeichel, as the Rams ended the opening 45 minutes on top.
In the second half it was end-to-end football at the King Power Stadium, as Schmeichel palmed Sammon’s low cross-come-shot away, before Vardy’s clever turn past Jake Buxton was met by a terrific last ditch tackle from skipper Keogh.
As the half went on it was the Rams who began to take the game to the home side with their patient build up, and Clough’s men came close to an elusive equaliser when Hendrick sent a low shot towards goal after the ball pinballed around the penalty area. But the Irish Under-21 international’s effort was blocked on its way to goal.
But in the final quarter Leicester broke forward in attack against the run of play, as Waghorn escaped past O’Connor and drilled an effort goalwards from a tight angle. However, Legzdins was equal to it, as he diverted the ball onto the crossbar.
Legzdins’ heroics were to be undone as just seconds later, substitute Nugent made the game safe. Former Stoke City winger Ben Marshall clipped the ball to the far post, and Nugent got in between Keogh and O’Connor to nod the ball into the net.
Nugent added his second of the night and Leicester’s fourth in the 88th minute, with a terrific volley from just inside the penalty area to seal the victory and inflict a harsh scoreline on the Rams.
Derby County: Legzdins (GK); Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, O'Connor (Freeman 76); Coutts, Hendrick, Hughes, Jacobs (Bennett 85); Robinson (Tyson 81), Sammon.
Subs Not Used: Fielding (GK), O'Brien, Hoganson, Davies.
Leicester City: Schmeichel (GK), De Laet, Konchesky, Drinkwater, Morgan, Whitbread, Vardy (Nugent 66), King, Dyer (Marshall 66), Waghorn, Knockaert.
Subs Not Used: Logan (GK), James, Schlupp, Moore, Futacs.
Attendance: 20,680 (883 Visiting Supporters)