Jamie Vardy on the double for Leicester
Southampton 2 Leicester 2
Published 17/10/2015 | 18:28
Jamie Vardy continued to highlight his credentials for a place in England's squad at Euro 2016 with two well-taken goals to earn Leicester a 2-2 draw at Southampton.
Southampton had appeared comfortable when goals from Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk had given them a two-goal half-time lead, but Leicester gradually and impressively recovered the point that their exertions deserved.
The draw keeps them fifth in the Barclays Premier League table, even if that position is likely to be difficult to maintain, and three points ahead of eighth-placed Southampton.
Leicester may have threatened early on but there was little promising about their attack and for the remainder of the first half they were simply flat.
Saints goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, making a rare appearance following Maarten Stekelenburg's withdrawal with a back injury suffered in training on Friday afternoon, caused uncertainty by unconvincingly responding to two routine crosses and his defence appeared unsettled as a consequence.
In a sign of what looked likely to follow, Van Dijk, meeting James Ward-Prowse's 11th-minute left-wing corner, headed beyond Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel before seeing his goalbound effort cleared off the line by Danny Drinkwater.
Ten minutes later it was captain Jose Fonte's header from Dusan Tadic's corner, but this time there was no one to rescue Schmeichel when the Dane had been beaten. Fonte was unchallenged as he neatly headed beyond Schmeichel and inside the left post.
Not until the 36th minute, when Sadio Mane turned and sent a curling shot goalwards from the edge of the area to force a fine save from Schmeichel, did another goal look likely.
From the resultant corner, Ward-Prowse crossed towards Graziano Pelle, whose header struck the post before falling to Van Dijk. Knowing little about it, the ball hit the defender and then the same post, but when the rebound again came back to him he was alert and responded by scoring with as easy a tap-in as he could expect.
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri responded at half-time by introducing his two most energetic substitutes, Nathan Dyer and Riyad Mahrez.
Had Mane scored from distance after rounding the onrushing Schmeichel on the counter seven minutes into the second period, victory would have been secured. However, his heavy touch conceded possession and allowed Leicester to clear, and they regrouped, before gradually responding.
In the 66th minute, Dyer crossed for Vardy, under little pressure, to head almost casually beyond Davis. The goalkeeper's reactions were far too slow.
Leicester grew in confidence as the hosts, defending increasingly deeper, lost theirs. Their attacks became aimless, and their defending nervous.
Vardy, who had previously acknowledged the need to remain prolific if he wants to make England's squad for Euro 2016, wasted what looked likely to be his finest chance to equalise when from close range he sent Mahrez's left-wing cross over.
However, when tension grew at the announcement of five minutes' added time, Leicester continued to attack - and when Mahrez sent a through-ball towards Vardy, he atoned for his earlier miss by shooting into the top-right corner.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"England's Jamie Vardy to the rescue!! #lcfc @LCFC"
- Manish Bhasin @_manishbhasin
Kelvin Davis: 5
Jose Fonte: 6
Virgil van Dijk: 7
Ryan Bertrand: 7
Steven Davis: 6
Victor Wanyama: 8
James Ward-Prowse: 7
Dusan Tadic: 6
Sadio Mane: 7
Graziano Pelle: 7
Jordy Clasie 5
Maya Yoshida 5
Jay Rodriguez 5
Kasper Schmeichel: 7
Danny Simpson: 5
Wes Morgan: 5
Robert Huth: 6
Christian Fuchs: 7
Marc Albrighton: 5
Danny Drinkwater: 6
N'Golo Kante: 5
Jeff Schlupp: 7
Jamie Vardy: 8
Shinji Okazaki: 5
Riyad Mahrez 7
Nathan Dyer 7
Jamie Vardy - The England forward, in the finest form of his career, scored Leicester's first to inspire their comeback, and recovered well from missing a glorious chance to equalise by scoring their decisive second goal in stoppage time.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
From a 28th-minute free-kick, when he had the chance to use his considerable passing abilities to deliver a cross towards the penalty area, James Ward-Prowse decided to attempt executing an apparently badly-rehearsed set-piece with Steven Davis. We may never know how it was supposed to conclude, because from Ward-Prowse's short pass, Davis, instead of delivering a similar pass back, painfully - and clearly wrongly - overhit the ball back towards his team-mate at head height. Ward-Prowse struggled to control, and the free-kick was wasted. They will have been relieved that the incident drew another foul and another free-kick. Needless to say that one was more routine.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
If what was seen on Saturday was anything to go by, Leicester have moved on from their 'new manager bounce', and the decline that was widely predicted upon manager Claudio Ranieri's appointment may have begun. They were incredibly flat and one-dimensional until their first goal, not that their four-man midfield was helped by being consistently outnumbered by Southampton's, and neither the players nor their manager seemed to know how to change that. Not starting Riyad Mahrez on the bench may have made a difference.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Given Southampton's modern-day reputation - that of a forward-thinking club willing to give opportunities to young players and benefiting from doing so - it was strange to see Kelvin Davis selected over the promising Paulo Gazzaniga as a replacement for goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Davis has frankly never looked a Premier League-standard player, and he is now 39. Selecting a player with his lack of quality at the expense of the 23-year-old Gazzaniga made little sense.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Liverpool v Southampton (Barclays Premier League, Sunday October 25)
Leicester v Crystal Palace (Barclays Premier League, Saturday October 24)