Leicester City 2:2 Everton
City fought their way to a point in their long-awaited first game game back in the Premier League, twice coming from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Everton at the KPS…
James joined Vardy, Albrighton and Upton on the injury list with City starting with a side the same as last season’s but for debutant Ulloa.
In a cagey opening spell to the game City looked a little nervous and gave possession away too easily. On one occasion this led to Baines delivering a pinpoint crossfield ball to the lively McGeady on the right, but Konchesky blocked his attempt on goal.
However, City looked determined to press forward and Morgan placed a shot narrowly wide when presented with a decent opportunity in the 17th minute. Soon after that Ulloa almost robbed Howard of the ball on the edge of the area but couldn’t quite get it under control.
Instead it was the visitors who took a 20th minute lead. Schmeichel managed to block Distin’s shot, but couldn’t stop McGeady finding the top right hand corner with a superbly accurate effort that eluded several blue shirts guarding the goal.
But the Premier League new boys didn’t let their heads drop and, roared on by a sell-out crowd, they were on level terms within two minutes.
From a King corner an attempted clearance struck Ulloa, and the Argentinian reacted swiftly to prod the ball home for a debut goal.
Knockaert then went close with a 35 yarder, but Everton then gradually took control of the game for the rest of the half.
Things worsened for City when Drinkwater limped out of the action five minute before the break, replaced by Hammond.
City needed to get to half-time without conceding to regroup, but that didn’t happen as Naismith, set up by Pienaar, topped a clever run with a fine finish, in off the crossbar, a minute before the break.
Although the atmosphere felt a bit flat among supporters at half-time, the players rallied themselves and produced a second half to be proud of.
In the 54th minute Mahrez produced a great cross but Ulloa directed his header well wide.
Schlupp then replaced Knockaert and should have equalised with his first touch, when strong running saw him bearing down on goal with only Howard to beat, but he blazed his effort well over the bar.
Mahrez went close with a free-kick after being fouled on the edge of the area by McCarthy.
Wood then replaced Ulloa with 12 minutes to go and won a few headers in areas where Everton had dominated.
It looked as though City were running out of time with four minutes left on the clock, but then Wood seized on a loose ball after Jagielka had blocked a King effort, and he beat Howard with a precise first time shot to raise the KPS roof.
There were hearts in mouths in time-added-on when Lukaku sent a header over, but it was a rare chance for the £28M pound man who had spent the afternoon in Morgan’s pocket.
It was a hugely important point for City, who had proved that they could live at this level, even without the James/Drinkwater midfield engine room.
Nigel Pearson commented: “We looked pretty dangerous in all honesty in the second half. We will need to improve in certain areas but the biggest message from today is that the players have learned that even during a game when you get setbacks with injury we are capable of adapting and getting something out of a game against an exceptionally good side.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky, Mahrez, Drinkwater (Hammond 39), King, Knockaert (Schlupp 64), Ulloa (Wood 78), Nugent. Subs: Hamer, Hopper, Taylor-Fletcher, Wasilewski.
Everton: Howard, Stones, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, McGeady (Coleman 84), Barry, McCarthy, Pienaar (Mirallas 81), Naismith, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Besic, Atsu, Osman, Alzaraz.
Ref: Mike Jones. Attendance: 31,603.
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