27 Feb Leonardo leads Leicester
Leonardo Ulloa kept Leicester’s title bid alive with a dramatic late winner to deny Norwich a priceless point.
The substitute fired in from close range with just two minutes left as the Foxes moved five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 1-0 win.
Ulloa netted just his third goal of the season to get Claudio Ranieri’s side out of jail as they struggled to break down a stubborn Norwich side who deserved a point.
Cameron Jerome missed the Canaries’ best chance when he headed wide in the first half while John Ruddy saved from Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy.
Leicester were subdued for most of the game – thanks largely to Norwich boss Alex Neil’s fine tactical tweak as the Canaries played with five at the back.
It shackled 19-goal Vardy, who struggled to make an impact, but Ulloa bailed them out late on.
Boss Ranieri has insisted their next five games – starting against the Canaries – were key to their title chances and they squeezed past their first assignment.
Norwich came to frustrate early and Kasper Schmeichel smothered just ahead of Jerome as the visitor’s counter-attacking game plan became evident.
But it was Leicester who carved out the first decent chance when Russell Martin almost turned Vardy’s cross into his own net.
In between, Robert Huth and Ryan Bennett looped headers over but the Canaries were content to play at their own pace.
They frustrated the league leaders, leaving little space for Vardy to exploit, although the danger of Riyad Mahrez and Albrighton was evident.
Albrighton came closest for the Foxes when his free kick dropped just wide but Norwich finished the half on top and Jerome should have out them ahead.
The striker – without a goal since December – rose highest to meet Robbie Brady’s 39th-minute corner but glanced a six-yard effort wide.
Nathan Redmond was then denied by Schmeichel as the Canaries grew in confidence as they executed a fine first-half plan.
The visitors continued to see plenty of the ball after the break without creating another opening before Vardy drove at Ruddy after a neat free kick after 57 minutes.
The Foxes had been below par but the threat of Mahrez remained as the Algeria winger plotted to unlock Norwich.
Ruddy claimed Albrighton’s effort after Martin’s slip but the Canaries were nullifying Leicester’s threat.
The outstanding Jonny Howson had hounded Mahrez and kept the Norwich midfield ticking as they looked to claim a precious result.
Ranieri responded with a double change, throwing on Jeff Schlupp and Andy King, before a final throw of the dice when he replaced debutant Daniel Amartey with Ulloa.
Leicester had kept Norwich’s threat at bay as the Canaries dropped deeper, eager to protect a valuable point, but Redmond whistled an excellent 25-yard drive inches wide with seven minutes left.
But, with two minutes left, Ulloa popped up at the far post to fire in Albrighton’s cross from point-blank range.
Patrick Bamford shot wide as Norwich tried to respond but Leicester clinched a vital victory.