Leicester were held to a 1-1 draw by Spartak Moscow in the Europa League on Thursday, with Jamie Vardy seeing a second-half penalty saved.
The reverse fixture in Moscow a fortnight ago was a thrilling 4-3 away victory for the Foxes, but the return leg was a much quieter affair.
Leicester saw the better of the ball throughout the first half but struggled to create chances. Boubakary Soumare rattled the post with a stunning curled effort in the pick of the efforts.
But the second half was far more lively as Spartak took a shock lead inside five minutes. Former Chelsea defender Victor Moses (51) turned home Mikhail Ignatov’s well-placed cross with the visitors’ only shot on target.
Seven minutes later though and Leicester were level as Daniel Amartey (58) powered a header into the bottom corner. The Foxes were then handed a golden chance to take the lead later in the half, but Vardy’s penalty was saved well by Aleksandr Selikhov.
It will feel like two points dropped for Leicester, who had the possession and second-half chances to see off Spartak. It leaves them with just one Europa League victory this season, sitting third in Group C on five points with the top two – Legia Warsaw and Napoli – to come in their final two games.
Spartak remain bottom with four points, with qualification still up for grabs for all four teams in a tight group.
Foxes frustrated by Spartak
Leicester started well and Amartey skidded a shot wide while Iheanacho’s early sighter was easily dealt with by Selikhov.
It was promising from the Foxes, but they needed to be patient, especially when Soumare came close on 18 minutes, but saw his 25-yard rocket rattle the underside of the bar.
While the Russians defended resolutely, Leicester needed to raise the tempo and a bright Iheanacho run, which ended with a Patson Daka airshot, epitomised their first half.
But the Foxes were left reeling six minutes into the second half when Spartak, previously so toothless, took the lead.
Moses started the move, lifting the ball to Ruslan Litvinov before barrelling into the area and was left unforgivably unmarked to glance in Ignatov’s fine cross.
How the former Chelsea man, who spent time on loan under Rodgers at Liverpool, was able to burst into the area unchecked was another reminder why the Foxes have kept just one clean sheet since the opening day.
But they were behind for just seven minutes as Amartey headed in after Ayoze Perez flicked on Ryan Bertrand’s corner.
Buoyed, Leicester went in search of a second and Selikhov tipped over Youri Tielemans’ dipping cross.
Vardy was then summoned from the bench with 20 minutes left and, five minutes later, blew the golden chance when Moses sent Ademola Lookman tumbling in the box. It would have been an instant impact but the striker’s penalty was poor and Selikhov pushed it away.
There was still plenty of time for Iheanacho to hit the post from four yards when he blocked Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s goalbound header as the Foxes failed to find a winner.
Leicester reaction: Rodgers, Schmeichel, Iheanacho
Brendan Rodgers told BT Sport: “Performance wise, we played well in the game. We didn’t concede so much, and the goal we conceded was really poor from our perspective.
“They break up the line and we don’t track runs into the box and that’s something we have seen before. Disappointed from that aspect, but overall the players played well.
“We created lots of chances to win the game, and it was a mixture of their good defending and we missed the penalty. We just never had the killer instinct in the box to take the opportunities.
“It is not easy when there are 11 players sat in in that final third of the pitch. But we worked the ball well into some really good areas, but we just couldn’t make that final pass that leads to the goal.
“For me, it is simple. It is about running, you have to run. We conceded a second goal here against Arsenal when we did not track the run. So it’s pretty straight forward, you have to run, you have to work, you have to do the dirty side of the game.
“It’s not always with the ball, you’ve got to be able to play against the ball. If you don’t run it makes it difficult for you.
“Wilfred Ndidi coming back will help us, he covers a lot of space and gets in to fill gaps, but that was the disappointing aspect of our defending in that moment.”
Kasper Schmeichel told BT Sport: “Disappointment, the game was there to be won. We dominated most of the game and they had a couple of chances and scored.
“At the moment, that’s a problem for us, we’re conceding too many goals but had enough chances to win it.
“If I knew, it [conceding goals] wouldn’t be happening. It is something we are working on every single day, but it’s not working too well at the minute. We have a track record that is good over the last few years so the confidence is there, it will come back, but we have to do better.
“When you are not getting the luck, that’s when you have to dig in and work harder. We have to look at ourselves every single day, we cannot blame anyone else. We have to get in tomorrow, make sure we’re working hard and we have a massive game coming up against Leeds.”
Kelechi Iheanacho told BT Sport: “It was a frustrating night. We conceded a sloppy goal but came back into the game. We were on them for the last 10 minutes, but it wasn’t quite on.
“We tried every means to score, but we have to focus on the next two games in the Europa. Hopefully we will win and go through.
“The first half, we kept the ball very well, moved it quickly and we controlled the game. We should have scored a goal in the first half, but it didn’t come. In the second half, we came out well, but it was one of those games. We have to do a bit more and it’s tight now up the top there and we need to win the next two game.
“Luck was not on our side and hopefully it will be next time.
“Everyone is down at the moment, but we need to now focus on the next games. We’ll focus on the Premier League first then look to progress in the Europa League.”
- After keeping a clean sheet in their opening two games of the season in all competitions, Leicester have kept just one shutout in their last 15 matches, conceding at least once in each of their last nine.
- All three of Daniel Amartey’s goals for Leicester in all competitions have been headers, with Thursday night’s equaliser his first strike for the club at the King Power Stadium.
- Victor Moses’ opener for Spartak Moscow was the Nigerian’s first goal in European competition (excluding qualifiers) in 3,108 days, since netting for Chelsea against Basel in May 2013.
Leicester’s next game comes at Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday; kick-off at 2pm. Their final two Europa League group games see Leicester host Legia Warsaw on November 25 before a final showdown away to Napoli on December 9 in what could prove to be a group decider.