Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Leicester City 1 match report: Frustrated Nigel Pearson laments late Kazenga LuaLua leveller
Too many draws have bedevilled Brighton's campaign for a play-off place for most of this season, but yesterday's will feel like a victory after a late goal salvaged a point they hardly deserved.
Leicester were two minutes from a first win in eight games when Brighton levelled through Kazenga LuaLua – a player given his debut by the Leicester manager, Nigel Pearson, when he was caretaker manager of Newcastle United in 2008.
It was a game full of the tensions to be expected between two teams vying for one place in the play-offs. Brighton had knocked Leicester out of the top six over Easter and will be relieved to remain two points ahead of their visitors, while Pearson was frustrated to have the chance to leapfrog Brighton again snatched away so late in the game.
"I think we were the better side," he said. "Brighton will be happier with the point. We've still got to play teams around us. We've got a great opportunity to do it. We've got five games left and it's in our own hands."
Gus Poyet, the Brighton manager, felt that his side had stayed in the game and done well to hold their own against a better-resourced team. "They have power, pace and technical ability and are very difficult to play against," he said. "It was a test that shows if you play against that sort of power you have to be at your best and we were not."
The opening half-hour was like a game of chess minus the thrills, Leicester so reluctant to give anything away that they even had Andy King man-marking Brighton's holding midfield player, Liam Bridcutt. But then Brighton went close twice, Danny Drinkwater kicking Inigo Calderon's header off the line and Bridcutt's 22-yarder was tipped over the crossbar by Kasper Schmeichel.
But as Brighton's anxieties began to show, Leicester sensed that it might be their day and raised their game. Tomasz Kuszczak made excellent saves from King and Jeff Schlupp after defensive lapses, then kept out the same duo after the interval before Leicester deservedly went in front after 73 minutes.
Liam Moore's long throw-in from the right seemed to take Matthew Upson by surprise, the ball rebounding off the former England defender for Matty James to power home from eight yards.
That looked good enough to be the winner until LuaLua cut inside the Leicester substitute Ritchie De Laet after 88 minutes and beat Schmeichel at his near post with a stinging shot to give Albion a share of the points.
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-1-2-3): Kuszczak; Calderon, Greer, Upson, Bridge; Bridcutt; David Lopez (Vicente, 55), Hammond; Buckley (LuaLua, 11), Ulloa, Orlandi (Barker, 79).
Leicester City (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Moore, Morgan, Keane, Konchesky; Drinkwater, James; Marshall (De Laet, 62), King, Nugent (Kane, 74); Schlupp (Wood, 74).
Referee: Jon Moss.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Latest in Sport
Paul Pogba to Chelsea? Juventus star linked with £60m transfer spotted in west London
World Cup 2014: Neymar's agent launches scathing attack on Brazil's Luis Felipe Scolari, labelling him 'an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous'
Loic Remy to Arsenal? Gunners close in on move for QPR and France striker - reports
Angel di Maria: Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal 'monitoring' Real Madrid star
World Cup 2014: The 50 best players of the World Cup
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber reach almost £154,000 on eBay
- 3 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 4 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 5 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories