…as Aston Villa hold Man Utd to draw
Kelechi Iheanacho scored a stoppage-time winner – awarded by the video assistant referee – as Leicester City inflicted the cruellest of blows on beleaguered Everton manager Marco Silva.
Silva appears to be managing Everton on a game-by-game basis after the club’s power-brokers met to discuss his future following the dismal home defeat by Norwich City – and it looked like he would claim a precious point here until just seconds before the end of a pulsating game.
Iheanacho placed a composed finish past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with the linesman’s flag raised for offside but after a lengthy wait, the goal was given amid wild celebrations from Leicester’s players and manager Brendan Rodgers as they kept Liverpool’s lead at eight points.
Everton deservedly led at half-time after Richarlison headed in powerfully from Djibril Sidibe’s cross, although Leicester had a penalty rightly ruled out by VAR after Ben Chilwell went down in a challenge with Mason Holgate.
Silva’s side were pulled back after 68 minutes when Jamie Vardy arrived unmarked at the back post to steer in Iheanacho’s effort as it flew across the face of goal.
Vardy missed a good chance to win it for Leicester but then came that dramatic finale – and now Silva must wait to see if he is in charge for Wednesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.
Everton manager Silva was seconds away from a result that may just have offered him breathing space and respite from the sense he is one defeat away from dismissal.
Silva’s players had battled for their manager and put a shift in that was a sharp contrast to the capitulation against Norwich City at Goodison Park. If Everton had left King Power Stadium with a point, no-one would have begrudged them and he may have earned himself some wriggle room.
Instead it was more heartbreak and pressure for the 42-year-old Portuguese, who once again saw an Everton game heavily influenced by VAR, as it was when they lost controversially at Brighton after a penalty harshly awarded against Michael Keane saw a lead eventually turn to defeat.
Everton pushed Leicester all the way and, with more of a cutting edge, could have cashed in on spells when they were comfortable and in relative control, with Sidibe causing all sorts of problems down the right flank.
Silva was animated, his players dug deep – and yet the manager was left broken again and looking a lonely figure as Leicester players and staff danced in jubilation after that most dramatic of conclusions.
All eyes will now turn towards the Everton boardroom, with majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenwright and director of football Marcel Brands having already discussed Silva’s future before this game.
This was not the performance of a team trying to get its manager the sack but it is another loss – and Silva’s fate is sure to be the subject of more discussion before Wednesday’s visit to Premier League leaders Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.
Liverpool’s relentless charge towards what would be a first Premier League title for 30 years has been built on battling through periods of adversity before emerging victorious late on, as they have done in recent times against the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Leicester City copied the good habits of their main title rivals to see off an Everton side in dogged and defiant mood, trailing until well into the second half before picking up momentum from Vardy’s equaliser then snatching that winner.
It is what teams chasing titles do, pick up points even when they are not at their best and this was a reminder to Liverpool that the Foxes are not going away any time soon.
Manchester United drew 2-2 with Aston Villa at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were held by a newly-promoted side for the second game in a row.
United played out a dramatic 3-3 draw at Sheffield United last weekend, and things started in much the same way as a stunning Jack Grealish goal opened the scoring inside 11 minutes.
There was a slice of luck for United’s equaliser as Marcus Rashford’s header went in off the back of Tom Heaton (42), before Victor Lindelof (64) nodded them ahead in the second half. However, the lead lasted only 112 seconds as Tyrone Mings’ (66) hooked finish sealed a point for the visitors.
It leaves United in ninth place on 18 points – level with Burnley and Crystal Palace and one behind Arsenal and Sheffield United – while Aston Villa are in 15th with 15 points, three above the drop zone.