Wood rescues Foxes with a late equaliser
Kiwi frontman the hero for Leicester
LEICESTER CITY 2
(Ulloa 22, Wood 86)
(McGeady 20, Naismith 45)
Substitute Chris Wood earned Leicester a point on their return to the Premier League with a leveller four minutes from time against Everton.
Steven Naismith’s goal on the stroke of half-time looked to have won it after Aiden McGeady and debutant Leonardo Ulloa had netted within two minutes of each other midway through the first half.
Leicester did all the pressing in the second half and were rewarded when Wood slotted a clinical finish beyond Tim Howard to salvage a point.
Roberto Martinez’s Everton team featured no new faces, although Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry both made their first appearances since joining permanently.
John Stones stepped in at right-back for Seamus Coleman, who was only fit enough for the bench, while new signings Muhamed Besic and Christian Atsu were both unused substitutes.
Ross Barkley’s injury certainly cast a cloud over the start of Everton’s season, the England midfielder sustaining medial knee ligament damage in training.
Nothing could dampen Leicester’s enthusiasm for their first Premier League season in 10 years, although they, too, were hit by injuries, with Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy and Matthew Upson all sidelined.
The hosts more than held their own in an even start and Howard had two nervy moments, first flapping at a Anthony Knockaert cross and then hesitating over a long ball and almost allowing Ulloa in.
But it was Everton who opened the scoring in the 20th minute, exploiting a fortuitous deflection to the full. Leighton Baines’ long-distance shot did not look set to pose any problems until it was half blocked on the edge of the area and fell for Sylvain Distin 15 yards out.
The defender’s shot was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, but the keeper could only watch as McGeady’s effort curled over him and into the top corner.
But back came Leicester and within two minutes they were level.
The Foxes had already demonstrated their threat from set-pieces and when Everton failed to clear a corner, record signing Ulloa repaid some of his transfer fee with a well-struck shot from the middle of the box.
Two minutes later, Everton thought they had gone back ahead when Baines set up Naismith, but the ball looked to have clearly gone behind before the defender played it. Baines was a real thorn in Leicester’s side and he wanted a penalty after going down in the area under pressure from Knockaert, but referee Mike Jones decided any contact had been accidental.
Everton began to assert their dominance, and Schmeichel was relieved to see shots from McGeady and Naismith both miss the target.
But with the 45 minutes almost up, Naismith put the visitors back in front.
Baines and Steven Pienaar helped the ball in from the left and Naismith wrapped his left foot around it, sending a shot crashing in off the bar,
Leicester needed to respond at the start of the second half and they did, with Riyad Mahrez’s header forcing Everton into a hasty clearance.
Ulloa should then have done better with a free header from Paul Konchesky’s cross, but the clear-cut chance they were looking for came in the 65th minute. Unfortunately for Leicester, it fell for Jeff Schlupp, who had just come on as a substitute.
Dean Hammond’s through ball was perfectly weighted, but Schlupp got his shot all wrong and it flew over the bar.
Mahrez was the next to try his luck, winning a free-kick 25 yards out for a trip by James McCarthy and then seeing it deflected just wide.
Ulloa’s debut ended when he was brought off to loud cheers in the 78th minute and replaced by Wood.
Barry, who had picked up a soft booking for a foul on Ulloa, was a little fortunate to stay on the pitch when he pulled back the lively Mahrez.
And it was Mahrez who set up the equaliser, jinking his way to the edge of the box before firing in a shot that hit Phil Jagielka and fell to Wood.
It was no more than Leicester deserved for their attacking intent.
Austrian Weimann stuns the Potters
STOKE CITY 0
ASTON VILLA 1
AndreasWeimann’s second-half strike proved the difference as Aston Villa triumphed at Stoke. The Austrian international rifled a shot in off Asmir Begovic in the 50th minute to steer the visitors to three points few might have predicted them collecting before kick-off.
Villa had not won away from home since January 1 and their six league games on the road previous to this had all ended in defeat in a poor conclusion to 2013/14. Stoke, on the other hand, had finished the campaign strongly, and lost only three times in the league at the Britannia Stadium over the whole season.
Villa’s win could have been even more emphatic if Gabriel Agbonlahor and substitute Leandro Bacuna had not squandered decent opportunities either side of the goal.