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Leicester City 1 – 1 Stoke City: Jack Butland’s own goal hands Foxes a point

Butland handed Leicester a point with an extraordinary own goal with 20 minutes left, allowing a low cross from Leicester’s Marc Albrighton to bounce off his gloves and into the net.


Jack Butland allows a low cross to bounce off his gloves and into the net. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Faced with probably the toughest run-in of any of the teams in the Premier League relegation battle, Stoke can ill afford to throw away a single point, so it was not surprising that manager Paul Lambert looked particularly vexed as a couple slipped through his grasp after a performance that probably deserved more.

And the biggest surprise to him – and everyone in the ground – will have been that the guilty party in the moment that cost Stoke victory, after Xherdan Shaqiri had given them a half-time lead, was the England goalkeeper Jack Butland.

Butland handed Leicester a point with an extraordinary own goal with 20 minutes left, allowing a low cross from Leicester’s Marc Albrighton to bounce off his gloves and into the net.

Up until then, Leicester had enjoyed much of the possession without ever looking as if they were likely to score against a visiting team who were well organised at the back, worked hard to deny their opponents any space and took advantage of a Leicester mistake to get themselves ahead.

Jamie Vardy, a key figure in the equalising goal, had been virtually anonymous, and though he had a couple of goal attempts, it was not until late in the game that Riyad Mahrez showed much of the qualities for which Manchester City were supposedly ready to pay a handsome fee in January, even if it did fall short of Leicester’s inflated valuation.

English Premier League

Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Manchester City 27 23 3 1 59 72
2 Liverpool 28 16 9 3 32 57
3 Manchester United 27 17 5 5 32 56
4 Chelsea 27 16 5 6 26 53
5 Tottenham Hotspur 27 15 7 5 28 52
6 Arsenal 27 13 6 8 15 45
7 Burnley 28 9 10 9 -3 37

The Algerian was starting his first Premier League game since Leicester’s latest refusal to budge sparked a strop that saw him fail even to train for a couple of weeks, let alone make himself available for selection.

Last week, he convened a meeting with the senior squad in a bid to mend bridges, although one suspects he will need to offer more than words to convince them of his continuing commitment.

Not that anyone in a blue shirt was particularly outshining him and once Stoke had their noses in front they looked comfortable until the moment Leicester equalised.

Their goal, a minute before half-time, tended to reflect which side had looked the hungrier.  Joe Allen, booked early but still battling for every ball, smuggled possession away from Wilfred Ndidi in midfield, looking up to find a willing runner to feed in Shaqiri, who rushed to the edge of the Leicester box without a serious challenge in his path and fired low and true across Kasper Schmeichel and into the right-hand corner of the net.


Xherdan Shaqiri fires Stoke in front. Photo: ACTION IMAGES

Nothing in the first 25 minutes of the second half suggested that Leicester were going to find a way back.  Paul Lambert felt comfortable enough to send on Kevin Campbell’s son, Tyrese, for his Premier League debut. But then came Butland’s extraordinary error.

Only he will know how it happened. Mahrez fed Albrighton, who had switched to right-back in a tactical change and drove in a low cross, Vardy lunged at it, getting ahead of his marker, but making no contact with the ball, which then bounced off Butland into the net.

There was some swerve on the delivery, but not that much. The only plausible explanation is that Butland took his eye off the ball, which is not what you would expect of a man tipped to be England’s first choice in Russia this summer.

He made some amends, producing an acrobatic leap to deny a bending left-footer from Mahrez five minutes later, and smothering the ball at the winger’s feet three minutes from the end, in between pushing a shot from Maguire on to a post. But at a stage in the season when every point may be vital for his team, the damage had been done.

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