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Unbeaten Leicester hit back for Stoke draw

Published 19/09/2015

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High-flying Leicester maintained their unbeaten start to the season as a second-half fightback secured them a 2-2 draw at Stoke, denying the Potters their first 2015-16 Barclays Premier League win.

The hosts had been firmly in control, taking the lead in the 13th minute when the fit-again Bojan Krkic - making his first league start in eight months - slotted home, before Jonathan Walters pounced on a Wes Morgan error to make it 2-0 seven minutes later.

But Leicester reduced the deficit in the 51st minute through Riyad Mahrez's penalty and Jamie Vardy then notched the equaliser in the 69th.

The Foxes went into this game second in the table and with their boss Claudio Ranieri having promised to buy them pizza if they kept the first clean sheet of their impressive campaign.

They showed little appetite for that in a poor first-half performance before once again producing a comeback to salvage something from the game - just as they have done in their last three league fixtures.

Stoke, meanwhile, must reflect on a great opportunity missed to get a monkey off their back as they remain winless and in the relegation zone.

They had settled into the game quickly and went 1-0 up when Marko Arnautovic deftly turned away from Ritchie De Laet on the left flank, cut inside and delivered a wonderful through ball for Bojan.

The Spaniard stroked home his first goal of the season gleefully, his celebration showing his relief at being back on the scoresheet after the nightmare he has endured since sustaining a serious knee injury in January.

Soon after, Stoke had another goal. Ex-Potters man Robert Huth allowed Jack Butland's long kick upfield to bounce past him and Morgan then made a complete hash of an attempt to play the ball back to his goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Walters, who had dashed past Huth, seized on the loose ball and side-footed in - a moment for him to savour, coming on his return to the matchday squad after a second bid for him from Norwich was rejected.

Stoke were almost in again as Walters and Marco van Ginkel just failed to touch in a Geoff Cameron cross, before Butland produced a great save to turn N'Golo Kante's shot around the post.

Things suddenly became less comfortable for Stoke shortly after the restart as Arnautovic bundled over Danny Drinkwater and Mahrez fired in the resulting penalty, his fifth goal of the season.

The in-form Butland then pulled off another fine stop to keep out Vardy's shot before Xherdan Shaqiri fired across Schmeichel's goal.

Vardy then drew things level with his fourth goal of the season, holding off Erik Pieters and scuffing a shot beyond Butland.

Stoke threatened again as Cameron headed wide and Schmiechel kept out a Shaqiri free-kick.

Vardy then almost won it at the death but his shot went narrowly wide.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

"Is this really happening again? Leicester 2 down at halftime are back on level terms." - Gary Lineker, as always, is left surprised by Leicester, one way or another.

PLAYER RATINGS

Stoke

Jack Butland: 8 (out of 10)

Glen Johnson: 6

Erik Pieters: 6

Geoff Cameron: 6

Marc Wilson: 6

Glenn Whelan: 6

Marco van Ginkel: 6

Marko Arnautovic: 6

Xherdan Shaqiri: 6

Bojan Krkic: 7

Jonathan Walters: 6

Subs

Peter Crouch: 6

Stephen Ireland: 6

Peter Odemwingie: 6

Leicester

Kasper Schmeichel: 7

Ritchie De Laet: 6

Robert Huth: 6

Wes Morgan: 6

Jeff Schlupp: 6

N'Golo Kante: 6

Danny Drinkwater: 6

Gokhan Inler: 5

Riyad Mahrez: 7

Jamie Vardy: 8

Shinji Okazaki: 6

Subs

Marc Albrighton: 6

Leonardo Ulloa: 6

Andy King: 6

STAR PLAYER

Jamie Vardy: The England forward continues to impress. Was a key man in Leicester's second-half comeback, and almost added to his equaliser with a late winner, shooting just wide.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Bojan Krkic: Hands on head and smiling broadly, the playmaker had a look of pure joy - mixed with a fair degree of relief - as he celebrated after scoring. Will be hoping his injury problems are now well and truly behind him.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Stoke boss Mark Hughes appeared furious at his team not getting a free-kick in the build-up to Leicester's leveller, but will surely be most livid at the Potters throwing away the opportunity to chalk up their first league win of 2015-16.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, while pleased to come away with a point and keep the momentum going, may be annoyed that again his men had to come from behind to get a result. A consolation on that front is that he will not have to act on his pre-match promise of buying his players pizza if they kept a clean sheet.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

Leicester are yet to register a shut-out this term and had the added incentive going into this contest of the reward of food - but you would not know it judging by the way Robert Huth, a former Stoke player no less, and Foxes captain Wes Morgan conducted themselves in the build-up to Stoke's second goal. Sloppy.

WHO'S UP NEXT

Fulham v Stoke (Capital One Cup, September 22)

Leicester v West Ham (Capital One Cup, September 22)

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