‘It is an encouraging game which is important for the future’

STOKE-ON-TRENT: Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel catches the ball during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Leicester City at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. — AFP

STOKE-ON-TRENT: Former England striker Peter Crouch came off the bench to rescue a point for Stoke City in a 2-2 draw yesterday, denying new Leicester manager Claude Puel a second consecutive win of his young managerial reign.

The 2015-16 Premier League champions are now unbeaten in six games in all competitions after early season struggles but will be disappointed they twice let their lead slip and in the end were indebted to goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who made a fantastic flying stop in the dying seconds. Leicester parted company with Craig Shakespeare last month after slipping into the relegation zone but have recovered strongly under caretaker boss Michael Appleton and ex-Southampton boss Puel and were in 10th spot before a clutch of matches that kicked off later. In an entertaining game Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez posed a constant threat and winger Demarai Gray earned another start just days after signing a new deal at the club.

“I am happy with the attitude of my players, it was a good game, good intensity and passion,” said Puel. “We had a lot of chances today. It is difficult to accept one point but Kasper saved well at the end so then OK, we take a point. It is an encouraging game which is important for the future.”

Stoke manager Mark Hughes praised Crouch for turning the game around. “Peter Crouch was effective when he came on. He always gets himself in a good position and he understood what was required. He changed the game for us,” he said.

Puel’s side took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Vicente Iborra lashed home a half volley after the ball fell at his feet following a corner and Leicester had clear chances to stretch their lead. First, Jack Butland saved superbly from Shinji Okazaki, in for the injured Ben Chilwell, and Iborra headed over from another corner. But Leicester were made to rue their profligacy six minutes after their opener when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting played an incisive defensive-splitting ball first time into the feet of Xherdan Shaqiri, whose left-footed shot from the right side of the penalty area found the net via the inside of the post. Mahrez put Leicester back in front with half an hour to go, moments after Schmeichel pulled off an impressive save from Ryan Shawcross. But they were pegged back again when Crouch, brought on just three minutes earlier, headed in a Shaqiri corner in the 73rd minute to earn a point.

Only three other players-Jermain Defoe , Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nwankwo Kanu-have more Premier League goals than Crouch as a substitute. – AFP