EPL results: Leicester drops points at home to West Brom; Chelsea wins to move back into the top half.
LEICESTER, England (AP) — Premier League leader Leicester dropped two points in its unlikely bid for the title by drawing 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
Craig Gardner curled in a 50th-minute free kick to deny Leicester a win that would have pushed the team provisionally five points clear ahead of games for title rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City on Wednesday.
Leicester fell behind to a goal by Salomon Rondon in the 11th minute, but roared back when central midfielders Danny Drinkwater and Andy King scored in the 31st and 45th minutes, respectively.
"We should have won the game. They only had a couple of shots and they scored," King said. "We've got that belief, so we always thought we would score. It's disappointing."
Leicester, which struck the crossbar twice and squandered a slew of late chances, is bidding to become arguably the most unlikely title winner in the history of England's top league, having only narrowly avoided relegation last season.
Second-place Tottenham will climb into first place, on goal difference, if it can beat West Ham away in the second tranche of fixtures in the 28th round.
Leicester hadn't conceded at home in 2016 until Rondon ran onto Darren Fletcher's through-ball, shoulder-barged Robert Huth to the ground, and slipped a finish between goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel's legs.
Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy—Leicester's effervescent strike pairing—both wasted close-range opportunities before Drinkwater took aim from 30 yards with a shot that struck Jonas Olsson, looped over goalkeeper Ben Foster, and nestled in the corner of the net.
Then, after Vardy hit the bar with a header, Marc Albrighton drove a long pass to the far post and Riyad Mahrez flicked the ball down to King, who swept a first-time shot into the far corner. King was only starting because of an injury to first-choice midfielder N'Golo Kante.
The noise ratcheted up a notch inside King Power Stadium, but Gardner quietened the atmosphere with his goal, a clipped free kick from 25 yards that left Schmeichel—standing behind his wall—rooted to the spot.
It was all Leicester after that. Okazaki headed the ball against the bar in an almost replica of Vardy's chance, Foster saved brilliantly from Jeffrey Schlupp, Vardy and Wes Morgan, and Leonardo Ulloa glanced a last-gasp chance wide.
Elsewhere in the Premier League:
NORWICH 1, CHELSEA 2
NORWICH, England (AP) — The quickest goal in the English Premier League this season set Chelsea on its way to a 2-1 win over Norwich on Tuesday.
Young Brazilian Kenedy scored after 39 seconds with a fine finish into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area. Diego Costa added Chelsea's second goal just before halftime, chipping over onrushing goalkeeper John Ruddy.
Norwich winger Nathan Redmond scored from a tight angle after 68 minutes, but Chelsea hung on for a win that provisionally left the team five points off a Europa League place as its fine run of form under interim manager Guus Hiddink continued.
Norwich is now without a win in its last seven league games, and has dropped into the relegation zone on 24 points.
BOURNEMOUTH 2, SOUTHAMPTON 2
BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — Bournemouth moved further away from the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over Southampton in the south coast derby on Tuesday.
Bournemouth took the lead with a volley by defender Steve Cook from inside the area in the 31st minute, and striker Benik Afobe sealed the victory in the 79th minute, heading home a free kick from Matt Ritchie.
The home side moved onto 32 points, eight clear of the drop zone, while seventh-place Southampton missed a chance to press its case for European football next season.
In a bizarre incident at the end of the first half, fourth official Kevin Friend struck his head on the dugout, and was taken to hospital.
ASTON VILLA 1, EVERTON 3
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Everton plunged Aston Villa closer to relegation from the Premier League with a 3-1 win at the last-place team on Tuesday, with many disgruntled home fans walking out in the second half.
Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku scored for mid-table Everton at Villa Park, which rapidly emptied as Villa supporters showed their unhappiness with the team's situation.
Villa, which has never been out of the Premier League, is eight points from safety with 10 games remaining.
Funes Mori headed in unmarked in the fifth minute from a corner by Kevin Mirallas, who also provided the assist for Lennon at the end of a swift counter-attack in the 30th.
Lukaku tied his career-best haul of 17 goals in a Premier League season with a close-range finish in the 60th.
Rudy Gestede scored a 79th-minute consolation.
SUNDERLAND 2, CRYSTAL PALACE 2
SUNDERLAND, England (AP) — Fabio Borini scored a 90th minute equalizer to earn Sunderland a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace that lifted his team out of the Premier League relegation zone on Tuesday.
The substitute scored from a seemingly impossible angle to rescue a point for Sam Allardyce's side. Dame N'Doye had given the hosts a first-half lead with a deflected that shot wrong-footed goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Conor Wickham scored both of Palace's goals after the break with two fine finishes against his former club.
Sunderland, which is still without a clean sheet in 14 matches, climb out of the relegation zone on goal difference, swapping places with Norwich.
Palace, which now hasn't won in 11 Premier League games, remains in 14th place, nine points above the drop zone.