Sports

EPL: Iheanacho rescues Leicester at Burnley

…as 10-man Sheff Utd beat Aston Villa

Kelechi Iheanacho stepped up superbly in the absence of a number of injured team-mates to earn Champions League-chasing Leicester a potentially important draw at Burnley.
With Harvey Barnes having joined James Maddison on the Foxes’ injury list and Jamie Vardy having only just returned from his own lay-off, Iheanacho gave his side the attacking edge they required courtesy of a volleyed equaliser midway through the first half, reports the BBC.
City had earlier gifted the home side the lead, with Hamza Choudhury’s under-hit pass near his own box allowing Matej Vydra to nip in, beat a man and then fire a shot into the roof of the net.
There were chances to win the game for both sides, but goalkeepers Nick Pope and Kasper Schmeichel each produced a typically excellent display.
Foxes keeper Scmeichel was particularly impressive, diving to superbly save headers from James Tarkowski and Chris Wood.
Both teams also hit the post in the second half – Ashley Westwood for Burnley with a volleyed effort from a tight angle and Youri Tielemens for Leicester with a shot from the edge of the box.
It is a useful point for Burnley, who extend the gap between themselves and 18th-placed Fulham to six points.
For Leicester, the comeback and resulting confidence it may inspire is as important as the reward it yields. and they now have a six-point advantage of their own over fifth-placed Chelsea.
Iheanacho provides hope in the gloom
Having earned a reputation as a predatory finisher during a series of cameo appearances for Manchester City in the early stages of his career, Iheanacho has never fully justified a regular starting spot at Leicester since joining the club for £25m in 2017.
Now would be a fine time to start fully living up to his considerable promise, with the Foxes deprived of top-drawer attacking talent and desperate not to allow Champions League football to elude them again.
Maddison and Barnes have either scored or assisted 15 of Leicester’s past 20 Premier League goals.
But in allowing Ndidi’s lofted pass to float over his shoulder before volleying the ball past Pope, Iheanacho demonstrated he has the skills to take over from the England pair.
His goal on Wednesday was not only brilliant but timely, with the early concession rocking a Foxes side that came into the fixture off the back of two defeats and had a number of square pegs in round holes.
While understandably not at their best, they visibly lifted after the goal, though, and stepped up again when defender Wesley Fofana came on and Wilfred Ndidi was restored to his preferred spot in the middle of midfield.
And bottom club Sheffield United survived for more than 30 minutes with 10 men to claim an extraordinary win and dent Aston Villa’s European ambitions.
David McGoldrick fired his side ahead inside the six-yard area after being picked out by George Baldock following a lovely move that started inside the Blades’ half.
Then United defender Phil Jagielka was sent off for a foul on Anwar El Ghazi after referee Robert Jones viewed the incident on a pitchside monitor and changed the yellow card he had initially given him to a red.
Villa’s Ollie Watkins headed against the post shortly before Jagielka’s red card but the visitors were unable to take advantage of the 38-year-old former Everton player’s dismissal.
The result ended a four-match losing run for Chris Wilder’s spirited side who, despite victory, remain 12 points from safety in the Premier League with 11 matches to play.
Villa could have moved three points from a Champions League place with a win but were bitterly disappointing.
RESULTS
Sheffield Utd 1 – 0 Aston Villa
Burnley 1 – 1 Leicester

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