Leicester City missed the chance to move 10 points clear of fifth place following a surprising 1-1 draw at 10-man Southampton.
The hosts made the brighter start but found themselves up against it on 10 minutes when Jannik Vestergaard was controversially shown a straight red card for catching Jamie Vardy just outside the penalty area. The Saints defender appeared to get the ball after making a desperate lunge to rectify his own mistake.
Leicester inevitably dominated but were left stunned on the hour when James Ward-Prowse converted a penalty awarded for a handball against Kelechi Iheanacho.
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The Foxes forward made amends for the error with a sumptuous cross for Jonny Evans to earn a share of the spoils seven minutes later. Vardy had a great chance to win it late on but couldn't find a way past Alex McCarthy.
The result sees the third-placed Foxes edge to within four points of Man United in second, but perhaps more importantly, nudges them eight clear of West Ham in fifth spot, having played a game more.
Southampton climb up to 14th and are now 10 points above the drop zone with five matches to play.
Next up, Leicester host Newcastle on Friday. Southampton visit Liverpool on Saturday.
Heroic Saints overcome harsh red to thwart Foxes. An out-of-form Southampton were eager to make amends for their FA Cup semi-final heartache as well as banish memories of the 9-0 loss at home to the Foxes last season. They made a decent start but it all seemed set to come crashing down when Vestergaard was sent off. The defender clearly played the ball and then caught Vardy on the ankle. It inevitably led to dismay from fans and pundits alike, lamenting that you can’t even tackle any more.
It also makes you wonder what happened to VAR? Surely it should have been suggested to the official that he could look at the monitor? When your luck is out, that is seemingly the type of decision that goes against you. It left the Saints with too much to do to keep Leicester out for 80-plus minutes but they settled into the task and refused to cave on this occasion. It was a hard-fought point and one that will surely mean any fears of the drop are all-but over. There’s far too much for the likes of Fulham to do in the five games left for there to be a stunning turnaround that involves the Saints.
As for Leicester, there’s no doubt this was a missed opportunity given how long Southampton had to play with 10 men. The Foxes could have gone 10 points clear of fifth place and while it is still very much in their hands, there is work still to be done and they will be keen to avoid any drama in the last couple of games given what happened to them last season.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jan Bednarek (Southampton). Rose to the challenge of seeing his centre back partner sent off. Played a key role in repelling much of what Leicester threw at them as part of a well-drilled and hard-working defence.
SOUTHAMPTON: McCarthy 8, Walker-Peters 8, Bednarek 8, Vestergaard 4, Stephens 8, Ward-Prowse 8, Armstrong 7, Tella 5, Redmond 7, Minamino 7, Adams 7. Subs: Salisu 8, Diallo 6, N'Lundulu n/a.
LEICESTER CITY: Schmeichel 6, Castagne 7, Fofana 6, Soyuncu 6, Evans 7, Thomas 6, Ndidi 7, Tielemans 7, Maddison 7, Iheanacho 7, Vardy 6. Subs: Perez 6, Albrighton 6.
7’ – SOUTHAMPTON CHANCE! Tella scuffs a tame strike straight at Schmeichel after Minamino caught out Soyuncu on the edge of his own area. That’s a big let off for the away team.
10’ – SOUTHAMPTON RED CARD! Vardy pounces upon on error from Vestergaard and the Saints man brings him down just outside the area. It looked like he got the ball – harsh decision?
61’ - GOAL! – Southampton 1-0 Leicester. Ward Prowse fires his spot kick just beyond the dive of Schmeichel. The penalty was awarded when Armstrong’s shot from just inside the area was blocked by the high arm of Iheanacho.
68’ - GOAL! – Southampton 1-1 Leicester. Evans arrives on cue to level matters with a super header from Iheanacho's lovely cross from the right.
83’ – LEICESTER CHANCE! Vardy takes a pass on the left side of the Saints area. He cuts inside his man but sees his low shot brilliantly blocked by the boot of McCarthy.
With four games still to play, Leicester have surpassed their total of 62 points from the previous season.
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