The confidence and self-belief that Bournemouth have gained from recent results prised a point from Leicester City in the toughest of circumstances.
When Eddie Howe’s side were reduced to 10 men by the controversial sending off of their skipper Simon Francis (right), it seemed likely they would become victims of Leicester’s eagerness to build upon a remarkable success story.
But, having taken 12 points from a six-match unbeaten run prior to Monday’s defeat at Arsenal, The Cherries showed they possess character and resilience to go with their stylish football.
They were helped, however, by the fact that the Midas touch appears to have deserted Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez who wasted golden opportunities to get the Foxes back to winning ways after a largely unproductive Christmas programme.
Vardy rattled the post early on, while Mahrez had a 59th-minute penalty saved by Artur Boruc after Francis was dismissed by Andre Marriner for a tackle on the England striker in which he got his foot on the ball. Though Howe felt aggrieved about the decision, he refused to criticise the official. Howe said: “It was a difficult one for the referee because he was the other side of the pitch. For me, it’s not a penalty. That was my opinion live and it’s still my opinion, having seen the replays. Simon’s got a clear touch on the ball and he’s timed it superbly.
“It was a really tough ask for us, and when you are down to 10 men with a long spell in the game to go, to come away with anything is a huge result.”
Despite the frustration of being held to a goalless draw for the second home game in four days, Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri celebrated with champagne, saying: “That is 40 points, so we are safe now.”
It would have been 42 points and level with Arsenal, had Vardy put away an excellent chance 10 minutes into the game when put through by Leonardo Ulloa. But Bournemouth also wasted good chances in the first half, with Josh King heading wide from close range and Dan Gosling scooping his shot over the bar.
Leicester: (4-4-2) Schmeichel; Simpson (De Laet, 73), Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kante, Albrighton (Okazaki, 64); Ulloa (Dyer, 45), Vardy.
Bournemouth: (4-1-4-1) Boruc; Smith, Francis (Distin, 59), Cook, Daniels; Surman; Ritchie, Arter, Gosling, Stanislas; King (Murray, 50).
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Man of the match: Cook (Bournemouth)
Match rating: 5/10
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