Leicester round off fantastic year with a draw against Manchester City
Published 29/12/2015 | 22:01
Leicester finished 2015 level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Barclays Premier League after a goalless draw with Manchester City at the King Power Stadium.
The stalemate leaves Leicester second in the table behind the Gunners on goal difference, completing an amazing turnaround from 12 months ago when the Foxes were bottom of the standings.
After defeat at Anfield on Boxing Day, some questioned the title credentials of Claudio Ranieri's team but they silenced their critics with another superb performance on Tuesday night as they more than held their own against many people's favourites for the crown.
City stay third and without an away win in the league in six outings since a 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace on September 12.
The two teams had cancelled each other out, and Leicester had marshalled the threat of Raheem Sterling well, until the 18th minute. It was then that Sterling caught Bacary Sagna's ball over the top into space and teed-up Kevin De Bruyne, whose first-time shot from the edge of the area was parried away by Kasper Schmeichel.
It signalled the start of an assertive spell from City, only briefly interrupted when Aleksandar Kolarov got himself in a tangle and Riyad Mahrez curled a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
City got in down the right again before the half-hour mark following good link up play between Sagna and De Bruyne. Sterling took a pass on his chest and, losing his balance, hit a volley but Schmeichel got a hand on the ball and it spun past the far post.
Sterling threatened again in the 32ndminute when Schmeichel had to help his left-foot shot from the edge of the box over the crossbar.
Leicester survived the spell of pressure unscathed and finished the first half strongly. Christian Fuchs turned away from De Bruyne and delivered a beautiful cross from the left which just eluded Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton in the six-yard box.
Four minutes before half-time Vardy was presented with a glorious chance to score - an opportunity he has buried many times already this season. Fernandinho dallied and lost possession 30 yards out, allowing Danny Drinkwater to put Vardy clear on goal but the Premier League's top scorer uncharacteristically blazed his shot over the crossbar.
There was more ebb and flow about the second half as chances went begging at both ends.
Sergio Aguero flicked a near-post effort just wide straight after the restart before N'Golo Kante soon had Joe Hart worried with a dipping 25-yard shot.
Albrighton scuffed his shot wide from a good position inside the penalty area while back at the other end Schmeichel had to push away a Nicolas Otamendi header.
A brilliant pass from Drinkwater gave Vardy anoth er sight of goal but his shot was straight at Hart, who then did well to repel a powerfully-struck Fuchs free-kick in the 76th minute.
Both sides had spells of late pressure but neither could make the breakthrough and a draw was a fair result.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Come on you Foxes!" - Former Leicester striker Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) urges his home town club on but had to settle for a goalless draw.
Kasper Schmeichel: 9
Danny Simpson: 6
Wes Morgan: 8
Robert Huth: 8
Christian Fuchs: 7
Riyad Mahrez: 7
Gokhan Inler: 6
N'Golo Kante: 7
Danny Drinkwater: 7
Marc Albrighton: 7
Jamie Vardy: 7
Leonardo Ulloa: 5
Andy King: 6
Ritchie De Laet: 3
Joe Hart: 7
Bacary Sagna: 7
Eliaquim Mangala: 8
Nicolas Otamendi: 7
Aleksandar Kolarov: 6
Yaya Toure: 6
Kevin De Bruyne: 8
David Silva: 7
Raheem Sterling: 8
Sergio Aguero: 5
Wilfried Bony: 6
Jesus Navas: 6
Kelechi Iheanacho: 4
Kasper Schmeichel - made three good saves to deny De Bruyne, Sterling and Otamendi and make sure his team took a deserved point. Organised his back line well too.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Following good link up play between Sagna and De Bruyne, Sterling took a pass on his chest and, losing his balance, hit a volley but Schmeichel got a hand on the ball and it spun past the far post. Brilliant save.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Claudio Ranieri seemed to get his tactics right in midfield with the surprise introduction of Inler alongside regulars Drinkwater and Kante nullifying the threat and effectiveness of the likes of Fernandinho, Silva and Toure.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Otamendi fell to the ground as if taking a right hook from Anthony Joshua in injury time when Huth's arm brushed against his face as City prepared to defend a late free-kick. Get up!
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Leicester v Bournemouth (Barclays Premier League, Saturday January 2)
Watford v Manchester City (Barclays Premier League, Saturday January 2)
Schmeichel was defiant during the game as he repelled Manchester City and he was equally adamant that Leicester deserved to enter 2016 joint-top of the table.
The Denmark international, however, stopped short of suggesting the Foxes could mount a title challenge at this stage.
"It is boring, but it is one game at a time. There's nothing won in December," he told BT Sport. "It's what we expect of ourselves and it's the level we set every single day in training.
"We'll just see how far we can go, we're taking it one game at a time and trying to pick up as many points as we can.
"We're a very good team ourselves, we've proven that at the back end of last season and we're halfway through this season and we're still up there in the mix."
Schmeichel denied De Bruyne and Sterling, among others, in an impressive display between the sticks but felt his side could have taken all three points.
He added: "They had some chances and we had some decent chances as well, we're slightly disappointed, but that's the way it goes. We'll take the point and clean sheet and move on."
Hart, who was less busy than his Leicester counterpart, has urged third-placed City to improve on their away results.
"It's a clean sheet, that's the positive, but the negative is it's a game we should win," said Hart, after seeing his side fail to win on the road in the Premier League for a sixth successive game.
"We're not where we want to be, but we're right in there without playing very well.
"We're in a good position and the two teams above us thoroughly deserve to be above us.
"We need to win all our home games and be damn hard to beat in our away games and take victories and enjoy it with our fans, who were great again tonight."