Leicester City came from behind to notch a 1-1 draw against Leeds United at Elland Road on Tuesday evening. Luis Sinisterra opened the scoring with a headed goal in the first half. Substitute Jamie Vardy levelled for the Foxes in the second period, giving City another precious point in their fight for survival.
Manager Dean Smith had most of his weapons available for selection and picked what I expect would be the exact lineup most Leicester fans would choose if the choice were theirs: Daniel Iversen, Timothy Castagne, Wout Faes, Çağlar Söyüncü, Victor Kristiansen, Youri Tielemans (C), Boubakary Soumare, Tete, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Foxes had the ball in the back of the net on in the seventh minute. Madders won a corner and took it himself. Faes got a flick on it and it fell to Soumare with his back to the goal. He tapped it out to Tielemans, whose thunderbolt bounced in off the crossbar. The goal was given, but VAR spotted that Soumare was offside when Faes flicked it to him and it was correctly chalked off.
City were left to rue their missed opportunity as the hosts took the lead just before 20’ mark. From a throw-in, Jack Harrison delivered an inch-perfect cross to the back post. Luis Sinisterra rose to meet it and nodded it down and just inside the post, giving Iversen no chance at all of making the save.
Leicester responded with great energy and precious little quality. Both sides pressed with abandon and flying tackles, which prevented the match from having any kind of flow to it. Leeds looked more at home in the chaos and thus more likely to score, but in the end, there was only one shot on target the entire half and it was a telling one.
Would the Foxes be able to come from behind and win a match they trailed at the half for the first time this season? We had 45 minutes to find out.
Smith kept faith with his starting XI to kick off the second half. The half started much as the first half ended, with bodies flying and shots going wildly astray. Both sides were leaning heavily on referee Paul Tierney as the tempers started to get a little out of control.
The Foxes had a decent penalty shout when Tete’s near-post corner hit Barnes and bounced into Patrick Bamford’s arm. I don’t know if it was reviewed or not, but Bamford’s arm was extended away from his body as he was holding Barnes at the time, but nothing was giving, so it was a moot point.
On 70’, Smith hauled of Tete and Barnes and brought Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy into the fray. It almost paid immediate dividends as Daka laid the ball off for the Seniorman, who shot well-parried by keeper Illan Meslier. Daka was the first to pounce and again Meslier was up to it. It didn’t matter as Daka was offside.
Meslier was called into action yet again when Madders and Iheanacho combined to send the Nigeria striker through on goal. It was all one-way traffic now as the Foxes were well on top and threatening every time they came forward.
The equaliser finally came in the most perfect fashion imaginable. Iheanacho won a loose ball in midfield. His first touch was dreadful, but he recovered just enough to tap the ball to Madders. The former Norwich City man drew the defence to him and slid it to Vardy, who hit it first time and scored just his second Premier League goal of the campaign.
JAMIE VARDY OFF THE BENCH FOR THE EQUALIZER!— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) April 25, 2023
@USANetwork | #MyPLMorning pic.twitter.com/5o7GZlJ0tQ
Iheanacho injured himself stretching to reach the ball and had to come off for Dennis Praet, As he hobbled off the pitch, he pumped his fists and implored the supporters to raise the volume and raise it they did. Vardy had the ball in the net again just moments later, but he was offside when Daka played him in.
Leeds suddenly found their attacking impetus just before the end of regular time. Iversen made two miraculous saves to keep the Lilywhites at bay, putting the second one behind. The ensuing corner fell to Bamford unmarked at the far post. He only had to sweep the ball into the net but somehow put it wide from a yard out.
The Foxes kept the pressure on but just ran out of time with their hosts out on the ropes. For just the second time this term, City rescued a point from a losing position at the half but will leave Elland Road thinking they could have had more.
Leeds (1.94) 1-1 (2.02) Leicester— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) April 25, 2023
Yeah, that’s about right.
It was one those “game of two halves” deals, except in this case, the first half was “boring” and the second was “exciting.” The Foxes put in the work in the first forty-five, but never really looked like scoring outside of the Tielemans thunderbolt that got erased. With Daka, Vardy, and Iheanacho on the pitch, it looked as though City could score at will and they might well have had Kelechi not exited with an injury.
Therein lies the big concern: Leicester looked unstoppable with a front three and Iheanacho playing the false nine. The Seniorman’s injury looked somewhere between “concerning” and “he’s not playing again this year, is he?” We have plenty of attacking options, but he offers something different and it may be something we wind up missing.
The draw gives us 29 points from 33 matches, which keeps us 17th on the table. Everton and Forest could go ahead of us if they win their game in hand. Forest host Brighton tomorrow, and the Toffees face Newcastle at Goodison Park on Thursday. Speaking of the Merseyside side, they visit the King Power on Monday in what will be yet another “most important fixture of the season.”