English Premiership

Drinkwater spares Leicester from defeat at Chelsea

2016-05-15 18:28
Danny Drinkwater (Getty Images)

London - Danny Drinkwater struck a stunning late equaliser as Leicester City concluded their fairytale Premier League campaign with a 1-1 draw against outgoing champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Cesc Fabregas's penalty put Chelsea ahead, but Drinkwater crowned his return from suspension by levelling with a dipping 25-yard effort in the 82nd minute to ensure that manager Claudio Ranieri did not taste defeat on his return to his former club.

Beaten only three times over the whole campaign, Leicester finished the season 10 points clear of second-place Arsenal, with long-time pursuers Tottenham Hotspur a point back in third. They also equalled a club record of 12 consecutive league games without defeat.

Chelsea finished 10th, 31 points off the pace, and while Guus Hiddink said his goodbyes after his second stint as interim manager, there remains uncertainty over the future of captain John Terry.

Suspended for Leicester's visit, the 35-year-old was set to take part in the post-match lap of honour but has yet to reveal whether he will sign the one-year contract extension that the club offered him this week.

Leicester's players were granted a guard of honour by their hosts as they took to the pitch beneath bright sunshine in west London, while Ranieri was presented with a memento by Chelsea, the club who had sacked him 12 years previously.

While the home fans said hello again to Ranieri, they also bade farewell to Hiddink, who gives way to Italy manager Antonio Conte, and implored Terry not to end his time at the club on 703 appearances.

On minute 26 -- reflecting Terry's squad number -- Chelsea fans in the Shed End held up signs bearing the number 26 as the home ground chanted: "John Terry, we want you to stay!"

The former England captain, sitting behind the dug-outs, acknowledged the display with a raised hand.

Perhaps with next season's Champions League campaign in mind, Ranieri used the occasion to test out a new system that saw Riyad Mahrez and Demarai Gray flank lone striker Jamie Vardy in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Vardy put two efforts wide, while Gray worked Thibaut Courtois with a firmly hit right-foot strike.

But Chelsea finished the half on top, visiting goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel twice denying Fabregas and saving spectacularly from Willian and Baba Rahman before an offside flag denied Pedro Rodriguez an opener from Willian's low cross.

Ranieri sent on Jeff Schlupp and Shinji Okazaki at half-time as Leicester reverted to their familiar 4-4-2 shape, while Hiddink looked to the future in the second half with the introductions of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 20, and 18-year-olds Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, who made his debut.

Fabregas broke the deadlock in the 66th minute, sending Schmeichel the wrong way from the spot after Schlupp had been penalised for flying in towards Nemanja Matic.

But Leicester, fittingly, had the final say as Drinkwater gathered a pass from Schlupp and hit a sweet drive that flashed past Courtois and into the bottom-left corner.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
30 October 2016
Everton v West Ham United, Goodison Park 15:30
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
31 October 2016
Stoke City v Swansea City, Britannia Stadium 22:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2016/17 season?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.