Leicester City’s Champions League charge has suffered a minor setback after being forced to settle for a 1-1 Premier League draw at 10-man Southampton.
Jonny Evans’ 68th-minute header earned the third-placed Foxes a point on the south coast following James Ward-Prowse’s penalty opener for the battling hosts.
The Saints played 80 minutes a man down after Jannik Vestergaard was sent off for bringing down Jamie Vardy on the edge of the hosts’ 18-yard box.
But Brendan Rodgers high-flying visitors were unable to take full advantage of the early dismissal and the result moves them eight points clear of fifth-paced West Ham in the race for European football, while the dogged hosts extended their advantage over the relegation zone to 10 points.
Southampton were without injured top scorer Danny Ings, who may miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring issue suffered in last week’s loss at Tottenham.
There was plenty to merit online engagement inside an action-packed opening 10 minutes in which Southampton had a goal disallowed, wasted a golden chance and were reduced to 10 men.
Saints right-back Kyle Walker-Peters was denied by an offside flag after confidently finishing past Kasper Schmeichel in just the second minute, before the unmarked Nathan Tella scuffed a tame effort at the Leicester goalkeeper having been picked out by Che Adams.
Slack defending from Vestergaard allowed Vardy a clear sight of goal and, in desperation to regain possession on the edge of his own penalty area, the Southampton defender lunged at the ball before catching his opponent with his studs on the follow through.
The Premier League later confirmed the red card was for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity rather than dangerous play.
The hosts showed some resolve as Nathan Redmond fizzed a shot at Schmeichel minutes later, while Youri Tielemans later tested Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy with City’s best opening of a goalless first half.
In the second half, Ward-Prowse confidently dispatched the ball into the bottom-left corner from the spot after his clever free-kick led to Kelechi Iheanacho blocking Stuart Armstrong’s powerful effort with an outstretched arm.
Falling behind kicked Leicester into life and they soon levelled.
Iheanacho made amends for his earlier error by delivering an inviting inswinging cross from the left, allowing defender Evans to nod his second goal in three games beyond McCarthy.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers admitted it was a disappointing outcome against 10 men.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Rodgers told Sky Sports. “We did enough to win the game, it was a great opportunity playing against 10 men and normally in that type of game we’re very good.”
Goalkeeper McCarthy hailed Southampton’s resilience.
“It’s massive for us,” said McCarthy. “Results have not been good for us, but to come away with a point after going down to 10 men early on is an unbelievable effort from all the lads.”