Leicester go top of English Premier League despite missed Mahrez penalty at Aston Villa

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 2016, 11:34am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 2016, 11:34am

Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty but Leicester City still went back to the top of the Premier League table with a 1-1 draw at rejuvenated Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Foxes’ fairy tale showed no sign of losing any allure as they went ahead at Villa Park with a 28th-minute Shinji Okazaki goal, confirmed with the aid of technology after goalkeeper Mark Bunn had clawed the ball back from beyond the line.

It was the perfect afternoon in many ways. Any win in this league is so valuable and the players produced an excellent, assured performance
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe

Leicester were awarded a penalty five minutes later for Aly Cissokho’s handball but Mahrez, one of the stars of their extraordinary season, struck a tame spot kick straight down the middle that Bunn saved with his feet.

Bottom club Villa, fresh from some respite in their wretched season following the midweek 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace, produced a much-improved second-half performance sealed by Rudy Gestede’s 76th-minute equaliser.

The draw moved Leicester one point clear of Arsenal and Manchester City at the top, with the Londoners having the chance to overhaul them when they visit Stoke City on Sunday.

It could easily have been a three-point lead had Jamie Vardy, who could not stop scoring earlier in the season, not blazed a late shot high, wide and not very handsome.

At the Vitality Stadium, Benik Afobe scored his first goal for Bournemouth to lift his team to a 3-0 win over relegation rivals Norwich City.

Midfielder Dan Gosling gave the hosts the lead after 10 minutes with a close-range header from Marc Pugh’s cross and Charlie Daniels doubled the advantage with a penalty nine minutes into the second half.

Afobe, signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers last week, wrapped up the points 15 minutes from time and Bournemouth moved above Norwich in the table.

“It was the perfect afternoon in many ways. Any win in this league is so valuable and the players produced an excellent, assured performance,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said.

“We knew the importance of this month going into it and today is a big step. We’ve got Sunderland next week and the games just keep getting bigger.”