A stunning Jeff Schlupp volley fired Leicester City to a crucial 3-2 npower Championship win over Bolton Wanderers at King Power Stadium on Tuesday night and lifted them back into the play-off places.
After falling behind to a David Ngog penalty in just the third minute when Wes Morgan had felled Chung-Yong Lee in the area, City had a massive task on their hands, but responded brilliantly to take a lead into half time.
Chris Wood made it 1-1 from the penalty spot after Lloyd Dyer was tripped by Danny Butterfield, before the New Zealand international repaid the favour by setting up the City winger for a brilliant second two minutes later.
Bolton then made it 2-2 in the second half through Darren Pratley’s tap-in from a long throw, but with 11 minutes left Schlupp pulled one out of the top drawer when he crashed a stunning 20 yard volley past Adam Bogdan to seal a famous 3-2 victory for The Foxes.
In arguably the most crucial match of City’s season so far, manager Nigel Pearson made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Birmingham last time out in a return to 4-4-2.
Anthony Knockaert and Dyer returned on either flank, replacing David Nugent and Danny Drinkwater, meaning City’s goal scorer from Friday night, Schlupp, would partner Wood in attack.
Dougie Freedman’s visitors meanwhile opted for a defensive-minded 4-5-1 formation with former Swansea man Pratley playing a supporting role behind loan striker Ngog.
Mede Kamara, Josh Vela and Butterfield were the three changes for Bolton from the side that beat Bristol City last weekend, replacing Jay Spearing, Sam Ricketts and Marvin Sordell.
It was the worst-possible start for Leicester however, as in Bolton’s first attack, Ngog cut a hopeful low ball back across goal from the right, but when City skipper Morgan attempted to cut it out, Lee took a tumble in the box which resulted in referee Eddie Ilderton pointing to the spot.
Former Liverpool man Ngog sent his kick low to Kasper Schmeichel’s right, with the City ‘keeper getting a touch only to set the shot trickle in off the post for 1-0 to the visitors.
The response from Leicester was to attack down the flanks, with the returning Dyer seeing plenty of the ball wide on the left, and Knockaert firing a free kick wide, but Bogdan remained untested despite some positive play.
Content with their opening goal, Bolton sat back as City attempted to force some openings – the best coming on 17 minutes as Wood tried an ambitious overhead kick from Ritchie De Laet’s ball, which caught Bogdan by surprise but went over the crossbar.
Wood then went close for The Foxes from a free kick which he had won on the left hand side. He struck it powerfully past Bolton’s three-man wall but Bogdan got a hand on the ball as it ballooned up in the air and away to safety.
Bolton threatened sporadically through Pratley and Ngog as City built pressure and momentum, and it finally paid off in the 39th minute when the lively Dyer was upended by Butterfield inside the area, resulting in a chance for City’s number 39 to do the business from the spot.
And New Zealand international Wood duly obliged by sending Bogdan the wrong way from 12 yards to drag City back into the match at 1-1.
Two minutes later and Wood was the provider as Dyer struck brilliantly to edge City ahead in a remarkable turnaround that saw City playing with a newly-found confidence.
Wood picked it up 40 yards out, switched it onto his right as he shaped to shoot before sliding a great ball into Dyer on the left, who unleashed a powerful strike that rattled the crossbar before crossing the line to send the King Power Stadium crowd wild.
The Foxes were able to see out the half relatively comfortably, and with Bolton seemingly rattled, they picked up the same tempo in the second half with Wood’s clever flick from an Andy King pass going over the bar, while Chris Eagles fired wide for the visitors.
Freedman responded by introducing Craig Davies for Josh Vela in the 57th minute, with his side looking to create more off the back of Ngog’s hard work in the lone striker’s role as City continued to look bright.
However with the introduction of Sam Ricketts for Butterfield around the hour mark, Bolton served City a warning that it might well take more goals to secure the points on the night, as substitute Davies rattled the upright with a thunderous drive from 25 yards.
Suddenly, with Bolton finding their attacking edge, the game became more of an end-to-end affair. First Lee went down in the box claiming a penalty from De Laet, but it wasn’t given, and then Knockaert curled a sumptuous left footer a matter of inches past Bogdan’s right hand post.
Schmeichel was then called into action for City when Eagles’ flick in the box was met with a first time effort from Davies, but the Danish international got two strong hands to the ball to avert the danger.
However with 20 minutes to play, Bolton were again on level terms. Marcos Alonso’s long throw from the right was flicked on for Pratley to tap home from six yards out for 2-2, leaving City in desperate need of another goal from somewhere.
A fantastic shift by Dyer then came to an end with 11 minutes left on the clock as Nugent was introduced to give City some added fire-power – and it worked, as he played a role in the third Leicester goal.
A De Laet throw on the right was flicked on by Wood for Nugent, who put enough pressure on Knight for the defender’s clearance to only reach as far as Schlupp on the edge of the box for a sensational volley into the bottom corner of the net.
With City now 3-2 up in the match, Drinkwater was introduced for Knockaert in an effort to shore up the midfield, but Bolton still threatened as Davies’ header from Knight’s flick drew a simply sensational save from Schmeichel to tip the ball over.
In a frantic end, an injury to Ngog saw him replaced by Tom Eaves and the assistant signal seven minutes of stoppage time, as Zak Whitbread came on for goal scorer Schlupp.
A late aerial bombardment form Bolton followed, but the Leicester City defence held firm and never looked like conceding as they played their way to what could well be a massive three points come the end of the season.
City (4-4-2): Schmeichel, De Laet, Konchesky, Morgan (c), King, Dyer (Nugent 79), Keane, James, Schlupp, Knockaert (Drinkwater 82), Wood
Unused subs: Whitbread, Vardy, Logan, Gallagher, Kane
Goals: Wood pen 39, Dyer 41, Schlupp 79
Bolton (4-5-1): Bogdan, Butterfield (Ricketts 59), Knight (c), Dawson, Alonso, Kamara, Vela (Davies 57), Pratley, Eagles, Lee, Ngog (Eaves 87)
Unused subs: Lonergan, Ream, Hall, Sordell
Goals: Ngog pen 3, Pratley 70
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)