Alex Iwobi rescues point for Everton in draw at relegation rivals Leicester
Alex Iwobi rescued a point for Everton in a pulsating 2-2 draw at drop rivals Leicester.
The forward capitalised on Jordan Pickford’s crucial penalty save when he stopped James Maddison making it 3-1 just before the break.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s spot-kick opened the scoring, his first goal since October, before it was cancelled out by Caglar Soyuncu.
Jamie Vardy’s goal sent Leicester ahead and Maddison missed the chance to put the hosts in control, with Iwobi levelling soon after the re-start.
The points are shared after an exciting evening at King Power Stadium 🤝#LEIEVE pic.twitter.com/hVQ6DvHxuX
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 1, 2023
Everton also lost captain Seamus Coleman to a serious injury to further add to their problems.
Realistically, a point did little to aid either side’s Premier League survival hopes in the short-term, although it did lift Leicester out of the bottom three on goal difference. Everton remain second bottom, a point from safety, with four games left.
May 2 marks the seventh anniversary of the Foxes’ Premier League triumph in 2016.
Five days later, basking in the glory, Leicester battered a disinterested Everton 3-1 before lifting the title to complete their fairy tale.
Andrea Bocelli had already sung an emotive Nessun Dorma and the Toffees had given the hosts a guard of honour at an electric King Power Stadium.
Fast-forward and after two fifth-place finishes, FA Cup win, a Champions League quarter-final and a Europa Conference League semi-final, the class of 2023 faced a different game against the visitors.
Everton, protecting a top-flight status which stretched back to 1954, were winless in their previous six outings.
Sean Dyche’s impact, which earned two wins from his opening three games, has waned and just one further victory since has left the Toffees staring into the abyss.
If there were any nerves, the visitors hid them well and only Daniel Iversen’s fabulous save denied Iwobi an opener following Abdoulaye Doucoure’s driving run.
Maddison’s tame shot was gathered by Pickford in a rare Leicester attack before the Toffees grabbed a deserved 15th-minute lead.
It was a gift from the hosts, though, as Timothy Castagne’s moment of madness saw him unnecessarily barge Calvert-Lewin over in the box.
— Everton (@Everton) May 1, 2023
The striker kept his composure from the spot to score just his second goal of an injury-ravaged season.
Leicester boss Dean Smith had criticised the schedule which, starting against Everton, will see the Foxes play four Monday night games – after all their rivals.
But defeats for Leeds and Nottingham Forest had given them the platform to escape the bottom three, one they were in danger of losing until levelling out of the blue after 22 minutes.
Maddison’s free-kick was only half-cleared and Wout Faes nodded back Harvey Barnes’ cross for Soyuncu to turn in from 10 yards – his first goal for the Foxes since October 2021.
It changed the direction of the game as Leicester found their rhythm to go ahead after 33 minutes.
As much as the Foxes had found theirs, Everton had lost any composure and Iwobi’s poor pass was intercepted by Youri Tielemans for Maddison to find Vardy.
🎶 🪄 Jamie Vardy's magic… pic.twitter.com/oMGfptuvN8
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 1, 2023
The striker dashed clear of Michael Keane to round Pickford and score. It is the first time in a year he has scored in successive games.
It sparked a madcap finish to the half and only Iversen’s fine stop from Dwight McNeil kept the hosts ahead.
Leicester survived again when Calvert-Lewin could only direct McNeil’s ball at Iversen from two yards – with Soyuncu’s touch on the cross denying the striker a simple tap-in.
Leicester immediately broke and Vardy bamboozled Keane only to chip onto the bar from eight yards.
The Toffees then lost their skipper when Coleman was carried off with a serious injury after Boubakary Soumare’s strong but innocuous challenge.
It almost got worse when Keane handled Barnes’ cross in the box but Pickford stood up to save Maddison’s poor penalty. The notes for Maddison’s penalty technique on the goalkeeper’s water bottle said ‘stay’.
It was a lifeline Everton grabbed as they levelled nine minutes after the re-start.
Iversen had already saved from Calvert-Lewin but he was powerless to stop Iwobi from drilling in after Faes had touched on McNeil’s delivery.
Parity restored, the game continued at a relentless pace with James Tarkowski blocking Vardy’s goal-bound header.
A frantic finish then saw Iversen turn Doucoure’s drive wide to preserve a result neither side really wanted.