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AFP
December 3, 2019

Leicester close gap on Liverpool, Man United held by Aston Villa

Sports

AFP
December 3, 2019

LONDON: Kelechi Iheanacho was the unlikely hero as Leicester came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 and close the gap on Liverpool at the top of the Premier League to eight points.

The Nigerian had not played a single minute of Premier League football this season prior to being summoned from the bench just after the hour mark, but Iheanacho teed up Jamie Vardy’s equaliser before scoring the winner deep into stoppage time.

“The best teams have spirit,” said Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers of his side’s fightback. “This is a team that is so strong together. Kelechi is a wonderful demonstration of someone who trains with a great attitude every day.”

Richarlison had given the visitors a shock lead at the King Power as Everton produced a performance that may do enough to save manager Marco Silva’s job ahead of the Merseyside derby on Wednesday (tomorrow).

Silva was reportedly on the verge of losing his job earlier in the week after a shocking 2-0 home defeat to Norwich. He responded with a change of formation and his switch to a 3-5-2 worked to perfection for the opening goal.

Djibril Sidibe broke upfield from right wing-back and his cross was bulleted home by Richarlison with a diving header.Leicester had already seen two half-hearted appeals for a penalty waived away for challenges on Ayoze Perez by the time that referee Graham Scott did point to the spot for Mason Holgate’s apparent trip on Ben Chilwell.

However, a lengthy VAR review concluded no contact had been made and the Foxes were frustrated once more.Leicester laboured in the search for an equaliser, but the introduction of Iheanacho as a substitute just after the hour mark provided the much-needed spark.

His first effort was too close to Jordan Pickford, but he got in behind the Everton defence again moments later and squared for Vardy for score his 13th goal of the season at the back post.Just as Leicester were turning the screw, Everton were inches away from retaking the lead in spectacular fashion as substitute Moise Kean nearly scored his first goal for the club with a curling effort that hit the side-netting.

Silva’s men appeared to have weathered the Leicester storm, but deep into added time Iheanacho collected Ricardo Pereira’s pass, turned inside and found the bottom corner.

A nervous wait ensued with the linesman’s flag raised, but a VAR check ruled the former Manchester City man onside for his first league goal since September 2018.

Earlier, Manchester United threw away second half lead to draw 2-2 with Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

Jack Grealish shot Villa into the lead with a superb solo effort midway through the first half, but United levelled before the break when Marcus Rashford’s header hit the post and came off Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton into his own net.

Victor Lindelof then headed United in front, but the lead lasted just two minutes before Tyrone Mings secured a deserved point for Dean Smith’s visitors.

Grealish’s excellent season continued when he shot the visitors into the lead after 11 minutes.Anwar El Ghazi burst down the right wing before crossing through the United area for Grealish to gather the ball on the left-hand side and take advantage of Andreas Pereira’s decision to back off by curling a precise shot into the top corner of David de Gea’s goal.

Villa had the ball in the United goal for a second time on the half hour, from another excellent Grealish contribution, only for Trezeguet’s effort to be ruled offside.

Grealish and Trezeguet remained a threat, with De Gea forced to tip a shot from the latter onto his bar before the interval although, in an increasingly entertaining and open contest, United finally looked threatening.

They even took the lead just after the hour mark when Fred swung over a cross which took an unkind deflection off the head of Douglas Luiz, moving the ball onto the far post where Lindelof sent a powerful header flying past Heaton. But Villa took just two minutes to equalise when Matt Targett played an accurate cross onto the six-yard line where Mings was able to volley past the helpless de Gea.

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