Brendan Rodgers made nine changes from the side that beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 on Saturday, while midfielder Wilfred Ndidi missed out after picking up a knock in training, and will undergo a slight operation on Thursday.
A dominant opening display from the Foxes saw Spanish forward Ayoze Pérez curl just inches wide of the mark with a deflected effort, while Ørjan Nyland denied the returning Jamie Vardy twice in the space of four minutes as City probed for an opener.
However, against the run of play, Villa went ahead midway through the first period. Anwar El Ghazi delivered into Frédéric Guilbert, who converted from close range to put Villa 1-0 up on Filbert Way.
City rallied before the interval, with Vardy and James Maddison both going close either side of Jonathan Konsa hitting the crossbar in the closing stages of the first half.
Manager Rodgers brought on Hamza Choudhury at half-time, and his first job was to halt the run of Mohamed Trezeguet, who attempted to launch a counter-attack for the visiting side.
Then, Nyland was there again on 63 minutes to turn away Maddison’s point-blank strike after some fine footwork from the Leicester No.10, but the Villa stopper was finally beaten with 16 minutes of normal time remaining.
Academy graduate Choudhury pounced to win the ball in midfield off Douglas Luiz and found Vardy, who immediately slipped in substitute Kelechi Iheanacho. The Nigeria international took a touch and cut onto his left foot before slamming past Nyland for 1-1.
A chance to win the first leg fell to Vardy, who fired into the side-netting after good work from Ricardo Pereira, while Çağlar Söyüncü headed Christian Fuchs’ long throw into the arms of Nyland in injury time.
Kelechi Iheanacho levelled matters after Frédéric Guilbert scored in the first period.
Dean Smith’s men defended their opening goal for long periods of the game as City looked to unlock their defiant back line.
A deserved goal for City finally arrived on 74 minutes, with two substitutes playing a pivotal role in the leveller, with Hamza Choudhury intercepting before Kelechi Iheanacho converted Jamie Vardy’s pass.
Matt Elliott selected Ricardo Pereira as his Man of the Match during the clash with Villa.
“James Maddison tried to get on the ball and have an influence, but the Portuguese man gets if for me.”
Where do we stand?
Jonny Evans brings the ball under control at King Power Stadium.
The Foxes will carry the 1-1 draw into the second leg, which takes place at Villa Park on Tuesday 28 January (7:45pm kick-off).
Brendan Rodgers salutes the Blue Army at the full-time whistle.
Attentions turn back to the Premier League on Saturday 11 January, when City entertain Southampton at King Power Stadium (3pm kick-off).
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