Leicester City and Everton fought to a thrilling, exhausting draw on Monday evening at the King Power. The Toffees opened the scoring through a Dominic Calvert-Lewin penalty. The Foxes took the lead before halftime via goals from Çağlar Söyüncü and Jamie Vardy, with James Maddison seeing his penalty saved right before the whistle.
Daniel Iversen kept Leicester in it, but Alex Iwobi got found an equaliser early in the second half. Neither side could find a winner and they were both forced to settle for a draw that helps neither club.
Leicester (3.60) 2-2 (3.56) Everton— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) May 1, 2023
It may have been a fair result, but we didn’t need a fair result; we needed three points.
Manager Dean Smith was without Kelechi Iheanacho for this crucial clash, but otherwise had a reasonably fit squad from which to select: Daniel Iversen, Timothy Castagne, Çağlar Söyüncü, Wout Faes, Luke Thomas, Boubakary Soumare, Youri Tielemans (C), Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.
The visitors had the first effort on target inside the opening ten minutes. A turnover in midfield saw Everton break in numbers down the left. As the defence scrambled to recover, Abdoulaye Doucouré played the ball to Alex Iwobi in acres of space on the right. The former Arsenal man’s shot was headed for the far corner, but Iversen got a big hand to it and put it behind for a corner.
The Toffees took the lead on the quarter hour. Dominic Calvert-Lewin received a lofted ball over the top and chested it directly to Iversen, but Castagne’s challenge was clumsy and he went into the striker with both arms extended. Referee Michael Oliver gave it a brief moment’s consideration and pointed to the spot. The striker took the spot kick himself, blasting it down the middle as Iversen guessed wrong, diving to his right.
The Foxes levelled in the 22nd minute through a player who has already signed a contract with another club. Tielemans won a free kick on the right wing, and Madders lofted it to Barnes on the far side of the area. He stood it up for Faes, who knocked it back into the middle. Söyüncü was the first to react, stretching to get a shot across Jordan Pickford. The keeper got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep out the future Atletico Madrid man’s shot.
City took the lead just after the half-hour mark. Tielemans cleverly intercepted a square pass in midfield and back-heeled it to Madders. The former Norwich City man looked up and his eyes lit up like a kid’s in a candy store. Vardy was one-on-one with Michael Keane and there was only going to be one winner in that race. City’s #9 raced clear of the defender, rounded the keeper, and tapped the ball into the empty net.
It’s difficult to describe how no goals were scored in the last five minutes of the half. Seamus Coleman got behind the defence and squared the ball for Dwight McNeill six yards from the goal line. His shot was brilliantly saved by Iversen, but moments later, McNeill turned provider and teed up Calvert-Lewin just a couple of feet from goal, but he contrived to hit the keeper from close range when he should have scored.
The back line found Vardy over the top with a long ball over the top. He turned Keane inside out and dinked the ball over the onrushing Pickford. Time stood still as the ball hung in the air and came back off the crossbar when it looked as though he had given the Foxes a two-goal lead.
After a long delay for an unfortunate injury to Coleman (and if you don’t like Seamus Coleman, you don’t like football), the Foxes were gifted yet another chance to change the score. Madders carried the ball deep into the Everton half and found Barnes on the left. His cross was met by Keane’s outstretched arm, which I’m told is against the rules. Maddison took the shot and...it wasn’t his best effort. Pickford saved easily, so the score remained 2-1 to the Foxes at the half.
The visitors came out of the tunnel with fire in their bellies and carved out a good chance on 53’. Iwobi found Calvert-Lewin’s near post run with a through ball. The striker turned and fired it towards the gap between Iversen and the post, but the Danish stopper made a brilliant skate save to preserve the lead.
That preservation only lasted for another minute. Faes got a glancing head to a cross from the left wing. It looped up and fell kindly for Iwobi, who showed fine technique to keep the ball down and slot it past Iversen to eliminate Leicester’s lead.
City should have taken it right back just moments later. A cross from Castagne found Barnes on the left side of the area. His awkward effort bounced up and found Vardy’s forehead just yards from the goal. The striker made great contact but headed it directly at James Tarkowski, and if you head the ball at Tark, it ain’t going in.
Smith made his first change on the hour, withdrawing Ndidi for Patson Daka. The Foxes immediately set up camp in the Everton half but were unable to find a way through the packed defence. Pickford came out of the area to get a ball aimed and won it, but he lost it to Barnes on the wing. Vardy was first to the loose ball. He spun and fired the ball towards the open net but it drifted agonisingly wide.
Praet and Kristiansen came on for Thomas and Barnes to add some fresh legs at the death. It was the Merseysiders who nearly took the late lead when Doucoure got loose and fired off a low drive that Iversen did brilliantly to keep out of the back of the net.
Four minutes of time were added on, but both sides were out on their feet and could summon neither the quality nor the energy to break the deadlock.
The first half was one of the most intense forty-five minutes’ worth of football I’ve seen all year. There was no chance the second half could live up to it, and it certainly didn’t. One of the things that we have struggled with this year is carving out chances in desperate moments. The quality just hasn’t been there even when the effort was.
Perhaps not the exact words I would have used, but Jason has the right of it.
The draw lifts the Foxes to 16th on the table, but only a point above the drop zone. We now have 30 points from 34 matches played and, I have to tell you, that ain’t very good. Next on the dance card is a trip to London to face Fulham in a rare early Monday affair. Who’s next? Who cares? One match at a time.