Sunday 27 May 2018

Leicester break out the Champagne despite frustration of missed opportunities

Leicester 0-0 Bournemouth

Riyad Mahrez had a penalty saved Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Riyad Mahrez had a penalty saved Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Bournemouth's Glenn Murray competes for control of the ball with Danny Drinkwater of Leicester City Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leicester's Jamie Vardy is brought down Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Bournemouth's Glenn Murray tries to evade Leicester's Danny Drinkwater Photo: Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Nick Lucy

The confidence and self-belief that Bournemouth have gained from recent results prised them another precious point off Leicester City in the toughest of circumstances.

When Eddie Howe's side were reduced to 10 men by the controversial sending-off of their skipper Simon Francis, it seemed highly likely they would become the latest victims of Leicester's eagerness to build upon a remarkable success story.

But having taken 12 points from a six-match unbeaten run prior to Monday's defeat at Arsenal, Bournemouth showed once again they possess character and resilience to go with their stylish brand of football as they continue to make impressive progress.

They were helped, however, by the fact that the Midas touch appears to have deserted Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez for now as they wasted golden opportunities to get Leicester back to winning ways after a largely unproductive Christmas programme. Vardy rattled the post when put through early on, while Mahrez had his 59th-minute penalty saved by Artur Boruc after Francis had been harshly shown the red card by Andre Marriner for a tackle on the England striker in which he got his foot on the ball.

Though Howe felt aggrieved about the decision, he refused to criticise Marriner, stating: "It was a difficult one for the referee because he was the other side of the pitch. For me, it's not a penalty. That was my opinion live and it's still my opinion having seen the replays. Simon's got a clear touch on the ball and he's timed it superbly.

"It was a really tough ask for us and when you are down to 10 men with a long spell in the game to go, to come away with anything is a huge result. It just goes to show we are capable of playing that way, we are capable of digging in and being resolute."

Despite the frustration of being held to a goalless draw for the second successive home game in four days, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri celebrated the result with champagne for his players, saying: "That is 40 points, so we are safe now."

It would have been 42 points and level with Arsenal still, had Vardy put away the excellent chance 10 minutes into the game when put through by Leonardo Ulloa, but Bournemouth also squandered two excellent first-half opportunities to break the deadlock, with Josh King heading wide from close range and Dan Gosling scooping a shot over the bar.

While Boruc produced an excellent save to keep out Mahrez's penalty, which was struck at a comfortable height to his left, other chances for Leicester to make their one-man advantage count were few and far between in the remaining half hour, though Vardy's glancing header from a Christian Fuchs corner flashed wide of the far post.

Nevertheless, Bournemouth hearts must have been in mouths in injury time when Vardy went down in the box after being nudged by Gosling, but Marriner had a clear view of that one and waved away the home side's appeals for a second chance from the spot.

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