Substitute Leonardo Ulloa struck in the dying embers as Leicester City beat Norwich City 1-0 on Saturday to keep hold of top spot in the Premier League.
It was the visitors who had the best opening of a goalless first half when Cameron Jerome missed a glorious headed opportunity shortly before the break.
Leicester improved slightly as the game progressed but struggled to seriously threaten the Norwich goal, Nathan Redmond flashing an effort wide as an off-colour outing for the Foxes dragged on.
But Ulloa tapped home at the far post as the game looked to be moving towards a draw to preserve Leicester’s fairytale run.
Claudio Ranieri’s men kept a fifth consecutive Premier League clean sheet at home and their win piles the pressure back on their closest title rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, who face Swansea City and Manchester United respectively on Sunday.
Norwich remain 17th in the standings and only sit above Newcastle United, who have a game in hand, on goal difference.
Daniel Amartey replaced the suspended Danny Simpson to make his debut in the hosts’ only change, while Ryan Bennett, Ivo Pinto and Alex Tettey came into Norwich’s team as Alex Neil shuffled his pack and switched to a three-man defence.
Jerome was indecisive after being slipped in on goal by Redmond in the early stages, while Shinji Okazaki had a flicked attempt well blocked by Bennett at the other end after good work from Jamie Vardy down the right.
A golden chance went begging for Norwich when Robbie Brady floated in an enticing corner but, from inside the six-yard box, Jerome somehow failed to find the target with his header.
Redmond then saw an effort pushed wide by Kasper Schmeichel and Jerome had appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Neil Swarbrick after Wes Morgan blocked his shot with an arm from close range.
Leicester registered their first attempt on target just before the hour mark when Vardy drilled in a low free-kick that was dealt with by John Ruddy, before the goalkeeper also comfortably gathered Marc Albrighton’s shot.
Jeffrey Schlupp returned from injury to make his first appearance since December 5, while Andy King and hero-in-waiting Ulloa also came off the substitutes’ bench as Ranieri searched for a winner.
Schmeichel was left grasping at air as Redmond darted in from the left flank and sent a fizzing 25-yard effort just past the far post.
But Leicester’s late show arrived as the otherwise-stifled Riyad Mahrez fed Albrighton down the right and his perfect low cross was finished by Ulloa from close range, sending the King Power Stadium wild.
Key Opta stats:
– Leicester did not record a shot on target until the 58th minute, and scored their only goal in the 89th.
– Leicester enjoyed the majority of possession in a Premier League game for only the third time this season (W2 D1).
– Norwich’s only shot on target in this game came in the 43rd minute.
– Norwich have taken one point from their last seven Premier League games.
– The Canaries have gone 14 Premier League games on the road without a clean sheet.
– Leicester have conceded only four goals in their last nine Premier League games.
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