Leicester City inflicted the cruellest of blows on beleaguered Everton manager Marco Silva as Kelechi Iheanacho’s stoppage-time winner – awarded by the video assistant referee – kept the Foxes on the heels of Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Silva appears to be managing Everton on a game-by-game basis after the club’s power-brokers met to discuss his future following the dismal home defeat by Norwich City – and it looked like he would claim a precious point here until just seconds before the end of a pulsating game.
Iheanacho placed a composed finish past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with the linesman’s flag raised for offside but after a lengthy wait, the goal was given amid wild celebrations from Leicester’s players and manager Brendan Rodgers as they kept Liverpool’s lead at eight points.
Everton deservedly led at half-time after Richarlison headed in powerfully from Djibril Sidibe’s cross, although Leicester had a penalty rightly ruled out by VAR after Ben Chilwell went down in a challenge with Mason Holgate.
Silva’s side were pulled back after 68 minutes when Jamie Vardy arrived unmarked at the back post to steer in Iheanacho’s effort as it flew across the face of goal.
Vardy missed a good chance to win it for Leicester but then came that dramatic finale – and now Silva must wait to see if he is in charge for Wednesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.
Can Silva survive?
Everton manager Silva was seconds away from a result that may just have offered him breathing space and respite from the sense he is one defeat away from dismissal.
Silva’s players had battled for their manager and put a shift in that was a sharp contrast to the capitulation against Norwich City at Goodison Park. If Everton had left King Power Stadium with a point, no-one would have begrudged them and he may have earned himself some wriggle room.
Instead it was more heartbreak and pressure for the 42-year-old Portuguese, who once again saw an Everton game heavily influenced by VAR, as it was when they lost controversially at Brighton after a penalty harshly awarded against Michael Keane saw a lead eventually turn to defeat.
Everton pushed Leicester all the way and, with more of a cutting edge, could have cashed in on spells when they were comfortable and in relative control, with Sidibe causing all sorts of problems down the right flank.
Silva was animated, his players dug deep – and yet the manager was left broken again and looking a lonely figure as Leicester players and staff danced in jubilation after that most dramatic of conclusions.
All eyes will now turn towards the Everton boardroom, with majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenwright and director of football Marcel Brands having already discussed Silva’s future before this game.
This was not the performance of a team trying to get its manager the sack but it is another loss – and Silva’s fate is sure to be the subject of more discussion before Wednesday’s visit to Premier League leaders Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.
Leicester take a leaf out of Liverpool’s book
Liverpool’s relentless charge towards what would be a first Premier League title for 30 years has been built on battling through periods of adversity before emerging victorious late on, as they have done in recent times against the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Leicester City copied the good habits of their main title rivals to see off an Everton side in dogged and defiant mood, trailing until well into the second half before picking up momentum from Vardy’s equaliser then snatching that winner.
It is what teams chasing titles do, pick up points even when they are not at their best and this was a reminder to Liverpool that the Foxes are not going away any time soon.
Leicester’s case is helped considerably by having Vardy, who is playing as well as at any time in his career and has now scored 22 Premier League goals since Rodgers arrived as manager in early March – more goals than any of the side’s other players.
Vardy has scored in six successive league games and has scored 13 in his last 13.
While there is this much life in Vardy, there will be plenty of life in Leicester’s title challenge.
Man of the match was Kelechi Iheanacho.
‘We didn’t deserve it at all’ – what they said
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers speaking to BBC Sport: “I thought we deserved it. It was difficult in the first half, they sat in but we tried to stay positive and play our offensive game. To come from behind as well demonstrates the quality and mindset of this team to keep going.
“In any good team you have to have that. The best teams have spirit. This is a team that is so strong together. Kelechi is a wonderful demonstration of someone who trains with a great attitude every day. They allow this team to develop to the level it has been at because they work hard in training.
“Momentum is really important. I’m just so happy to see the players have the patience and the belief that they can consistently get results. We found a way with quality and determination. It’s a very good win, now we have a big game again here on Wednesday.”
On his conversation with substitute Kelechi Iheanacho: “It was just to give him the confidence to get him to do what we wanted him to. We had a shape we wanted to go to; it was giving him the confidence and reinforcing his role. The rest was him. I’m absolutely delighted for him.”
Everton manager Marco Silva speaking to Match of the Day: “It’s really harsh for us – we didn’t deserve it at all. We deserved to take something more in this game.
“Nothing to say about the attitude and commitment. We were playing against a confident team. Of all their games at home this might have been the toughest they had. In the beginning of the second half it was good for us. We created some good moments to kill the game.
“But they have a top striker who in one moment can kill us. The VAR goal (…) was tough for us and our fans. It was a decision, and maybe in some seconds before we should have made better decisions.
“I have no doubts that I don’t have their [players] backing. No-one can say nothing about the attitude of my players. They showed a reaction for the last game.”
Vardy’s hot streak – the stats
- Leicester scored only their sixth-ever 90th-minute winning goal in a Premier League match – three of which have come since the start of last season (Maguire v Southampton, Morgan v Burnley, Iheanacho today).
- Leicester have won six consecutive top-flight matches for the first time since their club-record run of seven in March 1963.
- Everton have conceded more 90th-minute goals than any other Premier League team this season (four).
- Everton failed to win for the first time in 10 Premier League games in which they scored the opening goal.
- Everton have won just once in their last 10 away league outings, drawing three and losing six.
- Leicester conceded a goal for the first time in five Premier League games, ending a run of 446 minutes without shipping a goal in the competition for Brendan Rodgers’ side since Chris Wood’s goal against them for Burnley in October.
- Jamie Vardy has scored in six consecutive Premier League games for Leicester (eight goals), his best streak since his record-breaking 11-match run in November 2015.
- Only against Arsenal (nine) and Liverpool (seven) has Leicester striker Jamie Vardy scored more Premier League goals than he has against Everton (six).
- Everton forward Richarlison has scored in back-to-back away games in the Premier League for only the second time, last doing so back in September 2017 with former club Watford.