Leicester City went through the gamut of emotions Saturday as it attempted to extend its lead on Tottenham in the English Premier League table. But West Ham proved stiffer competition than Leicester has faced in weeks. The Foxes went a goal up, then a goal down, before securing a draw off a penalty kick from Leonardo Ulloa in the final minute of stoppage time to extend the lead on Spurs to eight points.
Most of the match played out exactly how Leicetser likes things to go. The Foxes allow the other side to dictate possession, so they can sit back and absorb pressure defensively. In turn, the opponent lumps more and players forward, so when the time does come to counter, Leicester has a wide open pitch to work with.
It was the strategy that yielded Leicester its first goal from Jamie Vardy in the 18th minute. And it was a goal that looked almost identical to the two he scored last week against Sunderland. Vardy took the ball down the left pf the pitch, powered past West Ham defenders before finishing for the 1-0 lead.
The goal was Vardy's 22nd of the season in the Premier League, tying him with Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot. But before Vardy had a chance to score another and move above Kane, the striker was sent off after garnering a second yellow card for diving.
Despite being down a man, it looked like Leicester was on track to pull out another 1-0 win. But in the 84th minute, Leicester captain Wes Morgan committed a foul in the box and drew a penalty. Andy Carroll stepped up to the spot and finished past Kasper Schmeichel to equalize the scoring.
Two minutes later, West Ham's Aaron Cresswell shocked King Power Stadium. A cross into the box was parried back out and to the boot of the leftback, who hit a stunning shot across the face of goal to give West Ham a late 2-1 lead.
Leicester appeared to be on its way to its first loss since a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in mid-February, but the Foxes were saved by the grace of the referee's whistle. Carroll nudged Jeffrey Schlupp on the edge of the Leicester box, and the referee judged the contact was enough to warrant a penalty. Ulloa stepped to the spot in the final minute of play to earn the Foxes a point.
The draw gives Leicester an eight-point lead on Tottenham, which plays Stoke City on Monday. It's less than Leicester wanted, and less than it probably thinks it deserves after leading for most of the match. But this result does keep some momentum on the Foxes' side as it attempts to hold off Spurs with four more matches to play.
"Our performance was fantastic, this is our soul, we play every match with this, blood, heart and soul, it was magnificent," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said, according to the Daily Star. "This point is very important psychologically."
Other Premier League results
Bournemouth 1-2 Liverpool
Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace