HIS time was up – yet Brendan Rodgers still emerged smiling as his Foxes kept the title race alive.
How poor Marco Silva must wish he could say the same!
The under-fire Everton boss had survived the regulation 90 minutes. His team had seen out the three minutes of added stoppage time.
But in ADDED stoppage time – one minute over – Leicester proved why Liverpool would be crazy to write off Rodgers’ amazing never-say-die Foxes as they struck to leave Silva’s job hanging by a thread.
Tom Davies unforgivably gave possession away needlessly and Wilfred Ndidi pounced to thread a precise pass to send kelechi Iheanacho clear of Yarry Mina.
The Nigerian striker slammed the ball expertly into the corner of Jordan Pickford’s net for his first goal since September 2019 – only for standside linesman Richard West to raise his flag for offside.
VAR TORTURED POOR SILVA
However, after a VAR check which must have tortured poor Silva, ref Graham Scott confirmed Mina had fractionally played Iheanacho onside and Leicester’s players went ballistic as they hared off to Rodgers to celebrate a sixth win on the spin.
It was an amazing end to an amazing game which saw Leicester throw down the gauntlet – Manchester City may be faltering … Rodgers Foxes appear to be made of sterner stuff!
This match had so much intrigue, so many plots, sub-plots, unexpected twists and turns, Agatha Christie would have been proud to have penned this thriller of a script.
The curtain hadn’t been raised, yet everyone present knew Silva had a loaded gun pointed to his head.
Everton’s scheming hierarchy, led by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, were allegedly plotting behind their Portuguese boss’s back.
The word was they planned to bump him off before the week was over – however Silva had other ideas.
He wasn’t ready to play the role of victim yet and cleverly reshuffled his injury-hit squad and laid a mouse-trap for Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying Leicester.
Mason Holgate, Yarry Mina and Michael Keane ganged up to stifle in-form Jamie Vardy, who might as well have bound and gagged during a frustrating first halkf for the home side.
When Leicester attacked, the three Everton heavies were flanked by Djibril Sidibe and Lucas Digne to form a back-five web which snared Leicester’s dangerous midfielders, who gradually ran out of ideas.
If Silva was indeed going down it wasn’t going to be without an almighty struggle.
Sidibe gave the first sign that the visitors were not going to meekly accept their fate when he flashed a shot just high and wide of target after nine minutes.
Leicester, seeking a sixth straight win on the spin hit back. But Ayoze’s Perez was off balance in the box when Youri Tielemans’ knockdown fell to him and his powderpuff shot failed to trouble Pickford.
The Spaniard then wriggled between Keane and Mina but pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Leicester fans had the most optimistic VAR call of the season when they demanded a penalty for handball against Gylfi Sigurdsson – who pointed to his nose which had taken the brunt of the impact – and left him resembling Rudolph the reindeer!
Everton had turned up wearing a coral outfit for the occasion and Silva was certainly in the pink when his side stunned the King Power Stadium by taking a shock lead after 23 minutes.
Richarlison showed why Silva spent £40million to sign him from Watford when he started and finished the move which gave his mentor a valuable lifeline.
The Brazilian fed Calvert-Lewin who fed Iwobi and the ball was sped out wide to Sidibe who was charging up oin the overlap.
His measured cross was outstanding and Richarlison charged in front of Ricardo Pereira to crash a bullet header beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
Marco Silva was suddenly on his feet, fist-pumping furiously in celebration as he showed the kind of passion many fans accused him of lacking.
The Foxes, stung by the setback, tried to hit back swiftly and it took a brilliantly timed block by Sidibe to stop Perez in his tracks as he pulled the trigger in front of goal.
Vardy then sent a scissors kick wildly over as the new main challengers to Liverpool began to feel the frustration of being chasers – rather than leading from the front as they famously had during their 2016 title win.
But the plot suddenly thickened after 33 minutes when referee Graham Scott awarded Leicester a penalty – which VAR then overturned.
Mina produced a stunning reverse tackle to stop Vardy in the box but the loose ball broke to Ben Chilwell who pushed it past Holgate who appeared to send him crashing.
Scott pointed to the spot but after much poring over different angles VAR ref Simon Hooper decided Holgate had never actually made contact with Chilwell, whose own momentum had sent him spinning over.
Mina’s challenge on Vardy was also given a clean bill of health as Everton fans celebrated their let-off.
But there was fury when the Holgate challenge was shown on the giant screens and Leicester fans went ballistic.
The trouble was they had only seen one angle from a sizeable distance – something the authorities might have to think about in a more explosive fixture.
But perhaps it was that sense of injustice which fired Leicester up after the break as Brendan Rodgers side showed why they simply cannot be written off as title contenders by a long shot.
Rodgers deserves enormous praise for having the courage to throw on forgotten man Kelechi Iheanacho for his own summer signing Perez just after the hour mark.
The former Manchester City wonderkid has not matured into the player everyone assumed he would at the King Power.
But perhaps Rodgers can work another miracle by bringing out the best in a striker who had gone a full calendar year without a Premier goal.
Jamie Vardy is at the other end of the scale and it was the Leicester legend who cashed in when Iheanacho unnerved Everton after 68 minutes to turn this amazing game on it’s head.
Maddison robbed Tom Davies in the middle of the park and Ndidi moved in to send Iheanacho clear on the right.
His low cross left Pickford stranded and the last man the England goalie wanted to see moving in for the kill at the back post was Vardy!
He gleefully tapped home to clock up his 13th goal in his last 13 games at the King Power and Silva must have known the tide was turning.
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Pickford blocked a Maddison volley and Vardy headed a Tielemans cross narrowly over as Leicester smelled blood.
Silva went down fighting in the cruellest of fashions, four minutes into stoppage time – even then he had his hopes briefly raised by VAR – before ref Scott confirmed Iheanacho was onside!
Whether Silva remains onside with his board ahead of the Merseyside derby with Liverpool remains to be seen.