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.
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