A stoppage time equaliser from Cardiff substitute Rudy Gestede meant Leicester City had to settle for a point after a gutsy and passionate second half display at The Cardifff City Stadium on Tuesday night.
On-loan Manchester United defender Michael Keane gave Nigel Pearson's men what looked to be a decisive lead when he met Sean St. Ledger’s cross with 18 minutes left on the clock to head past David Marshall and delight the travelling Blue Army.
But deep into four minutes of injury time Gestede rose highest to nod Andrew Taylor's left wing cross into the top corner and rescue a point for his side, despite an impressive second half performance from City that deserved more.
There were three changes for The Foxes from Saturday’s defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, with St. Ledger, Richie Wellens and Lloyd Dyer coming into the side in an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation.
St. Ledger deputised at right back for the injured Ritchie De Laet, while Harry Kane and Ben Marshall dropped to the bench as City looked to bounce back against the league leaders.
Former Manchester United and Sunderland man Fraizer Campbell led the line for Cardiff in a side captained by the returning Mark Hudson as manager Malky Mackay made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Derby last time out.
Both sides started slowly, sounding each other out in an opening ten minutes that passed without incident until Aron Gunnarsson forced an excellent block from Keane after a probing run through the middle.
City responded with a powerful drive from Chris Wood that was well saved by Marshall, but into the path of Dyer, only for Cardiff right back Matthew Connolly to make an excellent block from his follow-up effort.
David Nugent then picked up a 12th minute booking for a foul on winger Craig Conway on the City right as the hosts tried to mount a sustained spell of pressure.
Kasper Schmeichel made an alert save soon after to keep Ben Nugent’s flicked header out before St. Ledger went into the book for a foul on Conway down in the corner.
Despite possession being slightly in Cardiff’s favour, chances were still at a premium – David Nugent dragged an effort wide after a swift counter, while for the hosts Tommy Smith lashed an ambitious 20 yard volley well over the crossbar.
Noone become the third player to see yellow for a late lunge on St. Ledger with neither side able to find the key to unlock the other’s defence in the opening 30 minutes.
On 38 minutes Dyer’s pace took him clear on the left, allowing for a low driven cross towards David Nugent at the back stick, but a last-ditch clearance from Andrew Taylor averted the danger for Cardiff as the home defence breathed a sigh of relief.
But as The Foxes probed and pressed, Dyer’s left wing centre was gathered by an outstretched Marshall ahead of the incoming Wood, to bring a tight and uneventful first 45 to a close.
At the break Cardiff manager Mackay opted to make a double change – Craig Bellamy for Noone, and Kevin McNaughton for skipper Hudson.
But it was the spirited Foxes who worked hard to engineer the first opening in the 50th minute.
Danny Drinkwater made yards through the central midfield area and found Dyer on the left. The winger then picked out David Nugent in the middle, but the top scorer’s flicked finish flashed just a foot or so wide of Marshall’s goal.
Just two minutes later after some creative play in the box from Wellens resulting in a corner, St. Ledger’s header fell at the feet of Marshall to start a goal mouth scramble involving Wood and Andy King, but the Cardiff shot stopper came out on top.
Campbell then glanced a header wide from Bellamy’s whipped delivery from the right as the Reds looked to respond to City’s brightest spell of the match.
Pearson’s men still pressed however, and had by far the best chance of the match in the 62nd minute when David Nugent’s through ball found Wood one-on-one, only for his finish to take a touch off Marshall and trickle inches wide of the post for a corner.
With three points up for grabs, the manager moved to introduce Kane shortly afterwards for Wellens – an attacking substitution that saw The Foxes operating with a front four.
Kane continued Wellens’ hard work and won a useful free kick 40 yards out, resulting in a booking for Ben Nugent after his cynical foul.
Drinkwater took it and found Wood, whose header was blocked by Taylor for Kane to head a difficult rebound into the hands of a grateful Marshall.
Then, moments after seeing a header from Drinkwater’s corner come back off the upright, on-loan Manchester United man Keane gave his side a well deserved and hugely welcome lead with 18 minutes to play.
Wes Morgan found St. Ledger in space on the right, who clipped in a teasing cross for Keane to race onto and power his header past Marshall, who got a touch but was helpless to deny the 20-year-old his third goal for the club.
The stunned hosts struggled to respond – Ben Nugent heading over after City sub Jamie Vardy, who replaced David Nugent, went down in the area and felt he might have had a penalty.
Despite some enterprising play from Bellamy down the left flank, City managed to stifle the hosts and limit their chances to a Peter Whittingham snapshot from the edge of the area that flashed wide.
The introduction of Martyn Waghorn for Wood saw the game drift into the first of four minutes of added time.
But with the match seemingly dead and buried, Cardiff stunned City with the equalising goal deep into injury time.
Taylor whipped in a cross from the left and found substitute Gestede in the middle who glanced a header into the top corner and rob City of what would have been a richly deserved three points.
Cardiff (4-4-2): Marshall, Taylor, Hudson (c) (McNaughton 46), Whittingham, Conway, Connolly (Gestede 70), Smith, Noone (Bellamy 46), Gunnarsson, Campbell, B. Nugent
Unused subs: Lewis, Cowie, Kim, Mason
Goal: Gestede 90
City (4-3-3): Schmeichel; St. Ledger, Morgan (c), Keane, Schlupp; Wellens (Kane 63), Drinkwater, King; Nugent (Vardy 81), Wood (Waghorn 89), Dyer
Unused subs: Whitbread, Marshall, Logan, Knockaert
Goal: Keane 72
Referee: N Miller