Kelechi Iheanacho was the unlikely hero on Sunday as Leicester City came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 and close the gap on Liverpool at the top of the English Premier League to eight points.
The Nigerian had not played a single minute in the Premier League this season prior to being summoned from the bench just after the hour mark, but Iheanacho teed up Jamie Vardy’s equalizer before scoring the winner deep into stoppage-time.
“The best teams have spirit,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said of his side’s fightback. “This is a team that is so strong together. Kelechi is a wonderful demonstration of someone who trains with a great attitude every day. It was about giving him the confidence and reinforcing his role. The rest was him. I’m absolutely delighted for him.”
Richarlison had given the visitors a shock lead at the King Power Stadium as Everton produced a performance that might have been enough to save manager Marco Silva’s job ahead of the Merseyside derby tomorrow.
Silva was reportedly on the verge of losing his job last week after a shocking 2-0 home defeat to Norwich City.
Another defeat leaves the Toffees hovering just two points above the relegation zone with Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal to come in their next four league games.
“A really harsh result for the players and the club. We deserved more from this game,” Silva said. “No one can say anything about the players’ commitment, attitude or desire.”
Silva responded with a change of formation and his switch to a 3-5-2 worked to perfection for the opening goal.
Djibril Sidibe broke on the right and his cross was bulleted home by Richarlison with a diving header.
Leicester had already seen two half-hearted appeals for a penalty waived away for challenges on Ayoze Perez by the time that referee Graham Scott did point to the spot for Mason Holgate’s apparent trip on Ben Chilwell.
However, a lengthy video assistant referee (VAR) review concluded no contact had been made and the Foxes were frustrated once more.
Leicester labored in the search for an equalizer, but the introduction of Iheanacho as a substitute provided the much-needed spark.
His first effort was too close to Jordan Pickford, but he got in behind the Everton defense again moments later and squared for Vardy for score his 13th goal of the season.
“Kelechi caused a few more problems for the defenders, he got us into space and he got the winner which he deserves,” Vardy said. “He thoroughly deserves this.”
Just as Leicester were turning the screw, Everton came close to retaking the lead in spectacular fashion when substitute Moise Kean nearly scored his first goal for the club with a curling effort that hit the side-netting.
Silva’s men appeared to have weathered the Leicester storm, but deep into stoppage-time Iheanacho collected Ricardo Pereira’s pass, turned inside and found the bottom corner.
A nervous wait ensued with the assistant referee’s flag was raised, but a VAR check ruled the former Manchester City man onside for his first league goal since September last year.
Elsewhere, Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Aston Villa, Norwich held Arsenal by the same scoreline and Sheffield United remained unbeaten on the road after a 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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