Premier League leader Leicester dropped two points in their unlikely bid for the title by drawing 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion.
Craig Gardner curled in a 50th-minute free-kick to deny Leicester a win that would have pushed the team provisionally five points clear ahead of games for title rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City tonight.
Leicester fell behind to a goal by Salomon Rondon in the 11th minute, but roared back when central midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Andy King scored in the 31st and 45th minutes, respectively.
“We should have won the game. They only had a couple of shots and they scored,” King said. “We’ve got that belief, so we always thought we would score. It’s disappointing.”
Leicester, who struck the crossbar twice and squandered a slew of late chances, are bidding to become arguably the most unlikely title winners in the history of the Premier League, having only narrowly avoided relegation last season.
Second-place Tottenham will climb into first place, on goal difference, if they can beat West Ham at the Boleyn Ground tonight.
Leicester hadn’t conceded at home in 2016 until Rondon ran on to Darren Fletcher’s through-ball, shoulder-charged Robert Huth to the ground, and slipped a finish between goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s legs.
Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy – Leicester’s effervescent strike pairing – both wasted close-range opportunities before Drinkwater took aim from 30 yards with a shot that struck Jonas Olsson, looped over goalkeeper Ben Foster, and nestled in the corner of the net.
Then, after Vardy hit the bar with a header, Marc Albrighton drove a long pass to the far post and Riyad Mahrez flicked the ball down to King, who swept a first-time shot into the far corner. King was only starting because of an injury to first-choice midfielder N’Golo Kante.
The noise ratcheted up a notch inside King Power Stadium, but Gardner quietened the atmosphere with his goal, a clipped free-kick from 25 yards that left Schmeichel – standing behind his wall – rooted to the spot.
It was all Leicester after that. Okazaki headed the ball against the bar in an almost replica of Vardy’s chance, Foster saved brilliantly from Jeffrey Schlupp, Vardy and Wes Morgan, and Leonardo Ulloa glanced a last-gasp chance wide.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez, Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Amartey, Schlupp, Gray, Ulloa, Wasilewski, Schwarzer, Inler.
West Brom: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Chester, Sessegnon, Fletcher, Yacob, Gardner, Rondon, Berahino. Subs: Anichebe, Myhill, McClean, Gamboa, Lambert, Pritchard, Sandro.