Such was Villa's disarray that it must be back to the drawing board for their manager Brian Little - with Stan Collymore waiting in the wings? Their tale of woe began as early as the seventh minute when Fernando Nelson missed his kick as he attempted to clear Mike Whitlow's cross. Steve Claridge hustled the loose ball into the Villa net.
They seemed to have recovered their senses when seven minutes later Dwight Yorke was first to the rebound after Kasey Keller had blocked Alan Wright's volley. The striker chipped the keeper but was helped by a deflection off Keller's body which eased the ball into the Leicester net. Despite a subdued Andy Townsend, Villa now seemed ready to move up a gear and were further heartened when Neil Lennon's hasty backpass let in Tommy Johnson to test Keller in goal.
The game's decisive moment came three minutes from halftime. Emile Heskey chased a long ball into the Villa penalty area, where Gareth Southgate neatly intervened to head off the danger. But the goalkeeper Michael Oakes came hurtling off his line and barged into the Leicester forward. The referee pointed to the spot and Garry Parker did the necessary. Mr Elleray further endeared himself to the Villa fans 10 minutes into the second half when he ruled that Steve Walsh's handball on an Ian Taylor cross did not warrant similar punishment.
Sasa Curcic, nullified for the most part by the tenacious Lennon, and Nelson were replaced by Mark Draper and Julian Joachim for the last half-hour as Villa went for bust. But they laboured even more in a midfield where they had been outfought and outnumbered for most of the game.
Copious quantities of salt were poured into Villa's wounds five minutes from the end when Mustafa Izzet galloped on to Claridge's through-pass and easily evaded Carl Tiler's challenge to score Leicester's third goal. And, almost adding insult to injury, Heskey skinned Southgate on the goal- line in the last minute only to see his angled volley come back off Oakes's crossbar.