Thursday January 1st, 2015

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Two second-half goals in two minutes by David Nugent and Jeffrey Schlupp gave bottom-place Leicester a Premier League point in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard converted two first-half penalties in the 17th and 40th minutes at Anfield as Brendan Rodgers' team took control of the game.

After the interval, Nugent got one back for Leicester in the 58th with an impressive strike from outside the box to the bottom left corner before Schlupp equalized 100 seconds later with a well-placed low shot.

After back-to-back wins, 2015 was supposed to usher in the beginning of Liverpool's drive toward the top four but the same old defensive frailties were exposed by the struggling visitors.

Liverpool — missing Mario Balotelli after an injury in training on Wednesday — ended the day further off the top four than when it started it.

Leicester will argue a point was the least it deserved after the home side was gifted the first penalty when the referee ruled the ball had hit Wes Morgan's hand when it was actually his head.

Danny Simpson definitely handballed for the second spot kick, which saw Liverpool become the first team to score 100 Premier League penalties.

Riyad Mahrez had three chances in the first half-hour for Leicester with two free kicks from identical positions — one of which hit the post with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet beaten after just 66 seconds — and another from Schlupp's low left-wing cross.

One player who was excelling among the Reds' mediocrity was Philippe Coutinho, who had a hand in both penalties. Having struggled for form, the Brazil international has flourished in an inside-forward role alongside Adam Lallana and behind central striker Raheem Sterling in recent weeks. It was Coutinho's pass to Sterling which produced the first penalty when the England international tried to cut the ball back.

Gerrard tucked away the spot kick and Liverpool raised its game in the final third of the pitch.

The second penalty was all Coutinho's doing as his weaving run saw the ball bounce up and hit Simpson's hand. There were no arguments this time and Gerrard went the other side to goalkeeper Ben Hamer's right.

Leicester upped the tempo after the break and substitute Nugent volleyed home brilliantly from Vardy's knockdown.

With Liverpool still reeling from that goal, Schlupp beat Mignolet from the edge of the area shortly after to take the point.

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