Leicester City 1-1 Ipswich Town: equaliser achieved by Jeremy Sarmiento limits Foxes re-establishing 10-point lead at Championship summit
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship match between Leicester City and Ipswich Town at the King Power Stadium on Monday; Leif Davis’ own goal had put the Foxes in front, but Jeremy Sarmiento struck a late leveller for the Tractor Boys
Leicester spurned the chance to re-establish a 10-point lead at the top of the Championship as Ipswich struck a late leveller to earn a 1-1 draw on Monday night.
Leif Davis’ unfortunate own goal after just over half an hour had put the Foxes on course to put last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Coventry behind them.
But after Massimo Luongo’s dipping strike was only parried by Mads Hermansen, Jeremy Sarmiento pounced to tuck home the valuable equaliser with 89 minutes on the clock.
That ensured the pair – who have almost exclusively occupied the top two spots throughout the campaign –
could not be separated again, less than a month after a 1-1 draw at Portman Road, when Sam Morsy haunted the Foxes with a 93rd-minute equaliser.
Leicester remain seven points clear at the top of the pile, but only seven points clear of the Tractor Boys, who climb back above Southampton into second.
How Ipswich rescued a draw from the jaws of defeat
Leicester might not have had manager Enzo Maresca in the dugout – owing to the Italian’s touchline ban for collecting a third yellow card of the season against Coventry – but his absence made little difference to start with; the Foxes were as dominant as ever from the off.
While Ipswich barely had the time or space to fashion an attack, Leicester asserted themselves and – five minutes after Hamza Choudhury tested the water with a powerful strike that Vaclav Hladky dived to push away – they took the lead.
Stephy Mavididi stretched to control a ball, played a neat one-two with Ricardo Pereira and then laid the ball across the six-yard box, where a touch from the gloves of Hladky pushed the ball into Davis’ path. He could not react quickly enough to prevent the ball touching his leg and crossing the line.
Whatever McKenna said to his players at the break seemed to work. Hermansen had to be alert to tip Wes Burns’ connection on a bouncing ball over and Conor Chaplin even attempted a diving header; there was just something about their approach that gave the feeling the game was not done.
That idea was reinforced when Hladky raced off his line to bravely smother at the feet of Kasey McAteer, after the forward had been picked out by Yunus Akgun.
Then came the moment Ipswich had longed for; the moment Leicester had dreaded. Luongo hit a dipping strike that Hermansen could only scramble to push in front of him, with Sarmiento reacting quickly to tuck the ball under the Dane to breathe life into the battle for the Championship title.
Enzo Maresca felt it was a big shame to only draw against Ipswich and said Leicester completely deserved to win.
Leicester’s Enzo Maresca:
“It’s a big shame because of the effort they put in tonight. I think we completely deserved to win the game, but it’s football. I have nothing to say about the performance because the performance was very good and, in terms of final target and confidence, we are going in the right direction.
“Ipswich are a very good team and they are where they are because they are a good team. They have already worked with each other for a long time, which is an advantage for them.
“I have said since day one, the Championship is very long, very difficult. It’s a race. Sometimes you are in front, sometimes you are behind. The most important thing for us is the way we perform, which has been very good.”
Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna:
“It’s a big step for this group of players to come to a team like this – and it looked like that in the first half, to be honest. We had a good chat at half-time, we knew we had a level to go and we did that from the first minute in the second half. I thought it was a much better game and we had more than enough good chances to get something from the game.
“We find it easy [to focus on ourselves], to be honest. I know, externally, there is that noise, but I’ve said it before, it’s not a challenge for us. The large majority of this group were in a massive title race in League One last year. That was our approach last year, we never really spoke about the league or points.
“There are still 18 games to go after tonight. It’s much too early to worry about what other teams are doing. It’s the journey that we’re on. For us, it will remain about trying to perform, trying to improve.”