Victor Kristiansen’s arrival from Copenhagen on Friday had given the Blue Army reason for optimism in the week, although the Denmark youth international was not eligible to make his debut in this clash. A return for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was a welcome sight nevertheless, as was Dennis Praet’s reintroduction to the XI. James Maddison, meanwhile, was named among the substitutes for City.
The priority was points on Filbert Way – now we’re into the second half of the season and on the back of a four-game losing streak in the league – but Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton presented a steep hurdle for Leicester to leap. The visitors from the south coast, despite losing Leandro Trossard to Arsenal in midweek, were still basking in the glow of last week’s 3-0 triumph over Liverpool. They also knew a victory in Leicester could put them up to fifth in the table.
City's first chance came on six minutes. Timothy Castagne kept the ball in on the right and gave it to Harvey Barnes, charging forwards. Jamie Vardy, however, couldn’t make enough of a contact in the middle and the Seagulls survived an early scare. When Wout Faes cut out Pascal Groß’s cross on 15 minutes, City were away again – but Barnes’ pass to Vardy on the break was cut out and an excellent chance fizzled away.
Brighton, in a fluorescent orange away strip, had early chances of their own. Their first real opening saw Jan Paul Van Hecke head over the crossbar, despite practically being stood on the goal-line. Danny Ward did well to get a fingertip onto the corner, which possibly distracted the Dutchman at the decisive moment.
There was nothing Ward could do to prevent Brighton from going ahead just before the half-hour mark, though. Mitoma, a star of Japan’s World Cup campaign last month, cut inside Castagne on the left flank, looked up, and arrowed the ball into the far-right top angle of Leicester’s goal. A sublime opener for the visitors and a real blow for Brendan Rodgers' men.
The introduction of Albrighton, replacing the injured Praet, would have an immediate impact on Filbert Way, paving a way back. The Foxes were still fighting despite their predicament, and the fans were on their feet when Dewsbury-Hall’s pass cut Brighton open, picking out Barnes on the left wing. His shot seemed to glance Joël Veltman’s arm, but City continued playing.
Youri Tielemans pounced on the rebound, his drive hitting Lewis Dunk, and the ball bobbled into the path of Albrighton – who slotted past Robert Sánchez. Relief swirled around the ground, until a VAR check momentarily halted the celebrations. But Barnes was clearly onside and the goal was confirmed. It was 1-1 at King Power Stadium.
Into the second half, and when Luke Thomas challenged Danny Welbeck inside the area, Brighton’s players were furious after referee Thomas Bramall saw nothing untoward and pointed for a corner. It took some time for the corner to actually get taken, such was the visitors' outrage.
There was a spice in the game now. The noise levels had risen. Tackles were flying in. Despite building some momentum in the game, City were incredibly fortunate not to go behind again on 57 minutes. With time to spare, in the middle of Leicester’s penalty area, Solly March stumbled and blazed Mitoma’s low pass over Ward’s bar. A real slice of luck for the home side.
The Foxes were soon flying forwards themselves. There was a flash of hope when Tielemans played Vardy in behind, but Brighton recovered admirably. It was a City corner nonetheless, and when Thomas flicked Albrighton’s ball on, it landed to Barnes to smash it through Sánchez and into the net. Leicester had come from behind to lead.
Maddison’s 69th-minute introduction rivalled the goals in terms of volume around Filbert Way. The England midfielder, unused in Qatar, has not played since Leicester’s 2-0 win at West Ham United back in late November. City will need their top goalscorer with a challenging February fixture schedule looming on the horizon.
Ward soon had to be alert to March's close-range hit with 14 minutes to go. He was there again with seven to play, getting a knee onto Alexis Mac Allister's long-ranger. The advantage was lost, though, when Ferguson nodded Pervis Estupiñán's cross in. It was a sucker-punch for the home side, who had battled so hard to put themselves on course for victory.
Maddison's added-time free-kick hit the wall in the game's last flashpoint, but the two sides had to share a point apiece.
Major moment – Evan Ferguson's leveller
Evan Ferguson struck late on for the visitors.
The Foxes were denied all three points by the head of Evan Ferguson in the 88th minute.
Who impressed? – Marc Albrighton
Marc Albrighton came off the bench to play a vital role for the home side.
Matt Elliott said during LCFC Radio's live coverage: "Marc Albrighton wouldn't have expected to be involved as much as he was today but he was and he contributed with the goal and the assist for the assist for Leicester's second. It wasn't his best game, but it wasn't about being eye-catching today. It was about doing what needed to be done."
Where do we stand? – 14th in the table
James Maddison could have won it for City with a free-kick in added time.
Leicester climb to 14th in the Premier League table, with 18 points from 20 matches. The goal difference is -7.
Coming up – Walsall in the FA Cup
Harvey Barnes toasts his goal which had put Leicester ahead on Filbert Way.
City pause their Premier League duties next weekend, heading to Bescott Stadium to tackle Sky Bet League 2 side Walsall in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday (12:30pm kick-off). It’s then another away trip, to Aston Villa, on Saturday 4 February (3pm kick-off). All times GMT.
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