Southampton 2:2 Leicester City
Jamie Vardy confirmed his position as the country’s top striker with another scintillating display in the 2-2 draw at Southampton scoring for the sixth game in a row to keep city in fifth place in the Premier League. The man of the moment hit two class strikes in another second-half comeback that left us searching for suitable superlatives and some even reckoning it was up there with the best 45 minutes in living memory…
Claudio Ranieri started with the same eleven that did so well at Norwich but with surprisingly no space on the bench for Ulloa.
City fans were in buoyant mood before the game with many obviously taking advantage of the early departure to maximise drinking time.
Vardy had a good chance to open the scoring on 4 minutes after being set up by Albrighton, however it was City who looked distinctly hungover after the international break which allowed an excellent Saints’ side to take control of proceedings, with only Danny Simpson for Leicester looking up to speed.
Southampton duly took the lead on 21 minutes when a simple near post corner was diverted into the net by Fonte, through a static defence and in off the unguarded far post which left the City players asking each another what had happened.
City did push up immediately after the restart with headers from Okazaki and Morgan being saved but City looked distinctly off edge and 16 minutes later the home team doubled their lead albeit from an offside goal. Schmeichel pulled of a fine save to deny Mane but again from the resulting corner, van Dijk, who had come from an offside position, had acres of space and time tap the ball home from two yards after twice rebounding from the the post.
City almost got one back before half time but Huth could not find the net from close range shortly after Drinkwater had a good shot saved by Davis in the Saints’ goal.
City came out of the tunnel for the second-half looking a different team with the additions of Mahrez and Dyer for Schlupp, who had suffered a nasty cut in an earlier clash of heads, and Okazaki, who is beginning to look of a shadow of his early season promise.
Vardy shot directly at the keeper on 49 minutes and Mahrez produced one of his curling efforts that was narrowly wide on 61 minutes but five minutes later City pulled one back from Vardy.
An excellent run down the right-flank and cross by Dyer was superbly headed home at the near-post by England’s number nine for his eighth goal of the season and tenth in ten games.
Now it was all Leicester, who were camped in the Southampton half with the outstanding Kante, who would not look out of place in the Champions League, running the show in midfield and Vardy and Mahrez causing chaos up front.
Vardy almost got a second with a delightful move started by a sublime Mahrez back heel. One Frenchman then set up another for what should have been the equaliser when Kante set up Mahrez, but his shot grazed the crossbar.
The equaliser had to come and in the first minute of injury time it did, and it had to be Vardy, to cue wild celebrations from the players in front of delirious City fans who had just witnessed another amazing turnaround from the comeback kings.
If his first was a sweet header, his second, with his right foot, was just as delicious with a shot into the roof of the net, the result of a fine move again featuring Dyer and Mahrez, who now has the most assists in the Premier League.
There were still four minutes to go and City went for the winner and almost got it with Huth sending a shot high and wide from a set-piece. But, alas, miracles don’t happen every week and City had to settle for a point.
In the post match interviews both managers praised Leicester’s never-say-die attitude and excellent team spirit, but the last word has to go to England’s leading marksman who lauded Ranieri’s half-time substitutions which allowed his prolific goalscoring form to continue and cement his name as an all-time City great.
Southampton: K. Davis, Cédric (Yoshida 60), Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, S. Davis (Clasie 60), Tadić (Rodriguez 75), Mané, Pellè. Subs Not Used: Gazzaniga, Romeu, Juanmi, Caulker.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Albrighton, Drinkwater, Kanté, Schlupp (Dyer 46), Okazaki (Mahrez 46), Vardy. Subs Not Used: De Laet, King, Benalouane, Schwarzer, Inler.
Referee: Mr. P. Tierney. Attendance: 31,559.
Match report and photo: Rob Coe.
Get your Summer Special delivered to your door by return of post, followed by the rest of this season’s issues as they come out.
Fox Subscriptions for 2015-16 are just £16.50 – you can print off and fill in this form, or pay online via Paypal by clicking HERE.