Manchester City's sequence without a win now extends to a morale-sapping 12 games but at least they are still in the FA Cup, thanks to two equalisers from Nicolas Anelka. The enigmatic Frenchman, desperately short of goals himself during City's recent famine, converted a penalty and scored with a second-half header to repair the damage after City had twice been caught cold by breakaway goals.
The first of them could not have been more simple or direct. After only three minutes, Ian Walker launched the ball upfield, James Scowcroft won it in the air, and a restructured City defence was caught unawares.
Kevin Keegan has adopted a 3-5-2 system and yesterday that meant Sun Jihai playing in an unaccustomed position wide on the left. While he was still settling into that new role, Marcus Bent attacked the area where a conventional left-back might have been expected to be and got in a cross which Paul Dickov, once such a popular player at Maine Road, reached ahead of Richard Dunne at the near post and steered into the net.
Dickov also scored in Leicester's emphatic 3-0 victory here in November and his popularity with the Manchester faithful started to wane by the time he was substituted following a series of clashes with opponents as well as that goal in the second half.
"He epitomises everything that is right about our football club. I took him off to stop him getting into any further trouble," said the Leicester manager, Mickey Adams, who poured scorn on £500,000 bids from Blackburn and Aston Villa for another of his prized assets, Muzzy Izzet: "That wouldn't buy his left boot," he said.
The Manchester response to the goal was a committed effort from Robbie Fowler who three times went close to squaring accounts. He narrowly failed to get his head to a cross from Sylvain Distin, failed to capitalise on confusion between Walker and Andy Impey as he ran on goal and then almost squeezed a shot through Walker's legs after being set up by Steve McManaman.
It took a gift from Leicester to produce the equaliser. Paul Bosvelt was on the edge of the penalty when Billy McKinlay lunged across him and brought him down, leaving Anelka to thump his spot-kick gratefully into the roof of the net.
The game became a shapeless affair after that, until Leicester again took route one 20 minutes into the second half. This time it was Callum Davidson who belted the ball down the field, Dunne completely missed his kick, and the hard-working Bent finished coolly beyond David Seaman's left hand and into the bottom corner.
This time Leicester's lead lasted just two minutes until Fowler put over a corner from the right and Anelka lost his marker and leapt highest to glide his header past Walker.
Chances to break the deadlock were slow to come after that, although Manchester City finished the stronger and went closest when Anelka had an effort blocked and put a header wide and Fowler chipped past the post after being found by Trevor Sinclair's accurate low cross.
"I don't think either side deserved to win today," said Keegan. "We haven't worked either of the goalkeepers hard enough."
Manchester City 2
Anelka pen 27, 69
Leicester City 2
Dickov 4, Bent 66
Half-time 1-1 Attendance: 30,617Reuse content