Kelechi Iheanacho’s sweetly struck equaliser illuminated an oddity of a match: open yet lacking copious goalscoring chances, much of the action occurring between the two boxes.
By the final whistle Burnley had 29 points, six clear of Fulham in the final relegation position, while Leicester had reached 50, six better than fifth-placed Chelsea in the race for a Champions League berth.
Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers would have preferred victory but at this stage of the campaign were content with the draw and they now move on.
Dyche was right to identify Kasper Schmeichel’s display. “Their keeper was arguably man of the match,” he said. “The draw is pleasing in the sense of it coming off a very tough game against Tottenham [losing 4-0]and Leicester are equalling Man City away from home so they are no mugs.”
Of his side’s tilt at a top-four finish, Rodgers said: “When the final whistle [at the end of the season]goes we see where we are. We made an awful start tonight but we then came into the game.”
Hamza Choudhury’s mistake gave Burnley the ideal beginning. The Leicester midfielder will not wish to see a replay of his pass that went straight to a lurking Matej Vydra. The striker swooped past Wilfred Ndidi and smashed home for a Clarets lead only four minutes in.
This followed pressure from Dyche’s team that featured two Dwight McNeil free-kicks in quick succession. Each of these was from the left: the first headed over by Ben Mee, the second hit into Schmeichel’s hands.
If Rodgers was nonplussed at how the Foxes conceded – “An awful goal, poor from our perspective,” he said – the response was bright. Youri Tielemans took two corners. The first came back to him and though Charlie Taylor seemed to push the No 8 over in the area the referee, Andy Madley, ruled no penalty. Tielemans’s second delivery yielded no equaliser but had Choudhury cursing his luck: his shot into the turf was beating Nick Pope before the goalkeeper flung out fingertips and flicked the ball over.
The next act had Leicester skating upfield and Jamie Vardy – who was starved of opportunity throughout – peeling left to collect the ball. His pass was clever, played into space behind Burnley, but Iheanacho did not share the forward’s vision.
Leicester were not performing like the league’s third-placed side. When James Tarkowski mis-hit a clearance for a corner this was a rare Foxes foray near goal. Tielemans’s delivery – cleared with ease – was indicative of their stuttering display before a classy move and strike revived them.
Ndidi found the clever run of Iheanacho with a pinpoint chip and when the ball dropped over his shoulder the forward’s volley was purely struck, allowing Pope no chance with what was a supreme finish.
Also outstanding was how Schmeichel pounced to his left to keep Tarkowski’s towering header out, and Pope, too, when beating away a Tielemans shot on an angle as the half ended level.
It was becoming a tale of goalkeeping feats – particularly from Schmeichel. He dived left to parry a Wood header, then later to his right to repel the same player’s deflected shot. At this juncture Burnley again seemed more likely to score with Leicester devoid of ideas.
Yet this was also true of the contest as it meandered into its closing phase. Rather than a free-flowing sequence, the match might be turned on a moment of individual magic akin to Iheanacho’s – as when Ashley Westwood flicked the ball up and hit a volley that skidded past Schmeichel but not his right post, rebounding to safety.
At the end, Tielemans hit Pope’s right post via a Jack Cork deflection but a draw felt fair.
Source: The Guardian