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English Premier League 2015-16

Leonardo Ulloa breathes fresh life into Leicester’s title challenge, Chelsea down Saints

Argentine striker delivers much-needed points for wily Foxes, who open a five point gap on their closest rivals, while Fabregas and Ivanovic’s late goals boost Blues

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 February, 2016, 1:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 February, 2016, 8:58am

Substitute Leonardo Ulloa scored an 89th-minute winner as Leicester City breathed fresh life into their improbable Premier League title challenge by edging Norwich City 1-0 on Saturday.

Two weeks on from a last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, Leicester were on course to drop points again until Ulloa tapped in at the death to send Claudio Ranieri’s side five points clear at the summit.

The Argentine’s goal, only his third of the season, puts the pressure on Leicester’s closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, who host Swansea City and visit Manchester United respectively on Sunday.

They had a couple of chances, but if we are counting them, we deserved to win the game
Slaven Bilic

The Foxes now have a five-point gap on Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal with Manchester City another four points behind.

Norwich’s approach at the King Power Stadium gave Leicester an indication of the puzzles likely to await them over the final 11 matches of a dizzying campaign.

Alex Neil’s visitors lined up with a back three and sat back, forcing Leicester, who had previously averaged just 44 per cent of possession in their home league games, to take the initiative.

Marc Albrighton went close for Leicester with a free-kick from wide on the left, but the best chance of the first half fell to Norwich’s Cameron Jerome, who headed inches wide from Robbie Brady’s corner.

Encouraged by Riyad Mahrez, Leicester took hold of the game in the second period, with visiting goalkeeper John Ruddy saving from Jamie Vardy and Albrighton.

Nathan Redmond went close to snatching victory for Norwich when he flashed a shot wide, but the hosts had the last word when Ulloa ghosted in at the back post to apply the finishing touch to Albrighton’s right-wing cross.

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Meanwhile, Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea extended their unbeaten run to 11 league games in a 2-1 comeback victory at in-form Southampton, who had won five and drawn one of their previous six league matches.

Southampton took a 42nd-minute lead when Shane Long intercepted Baba Rahman’s header and ran into the box before coolly dinking a shot past Thibaut Courtois.

Home goalkeeper Fraser Forster established a new Southampton top-flight record of 708 minutes without conceding a goal, but he was finally beaten in the 75th minute when he allowed Cesc Fabregas’ cross to beat him.

Branislav Ivanovic headed in an 89th-minute winner from Willian’s corner, lifting Chelsea -- who lost Pedro Rodriguez to an early thigh injury – one place to 11th.

The result prevented Southampton from keeping pace with West Ham United, who had moved into fifth place earlier in the day by beating second-bottom Sunderland 1-0.

Michail Antonio settled the game in the 30th by scuttling infield from the right and firing home left-footed, as Slaven Bilic’s men supplanted Manchester United in the Europa League berth.

Marko Arnautovic scored twice as Stoke City won 2-1 at home to bottom club Aston Villa, who replied through Leandro Bacuna, while Watford and Bournemouth drew 0-0 at Vicarage Road.

Earlier, Michail Antonio struck as West Ham United enhanced their European qualifying hopes and snuffed out Sunderland’s recent mini-revival with a 1-0 victory on yesterday.

The former Nottingham Forest midfielder scored in the 30th minute, clinically punishing a loose clearance by Patrick van Aanholt to take his tally for the east London club to five goals.

The Black Cats, who had drawn 2-2 at Liverpool and beaten Manchester United 2-1 on their two previous outings, remain a point from safety.

Bilic was happy with the three points and told BBC: “They had a couple of chances, but if we are counting them, we deserved to win the game.

“I was hoping to score again, so we could play more freely, but we didn’t. We didn’t have a great game, but we deserved to win and are happy about it.”

Stoke City rubbed more misery into Aston Villa who are staring at relegation with a 2-1 victory. Marco Arnautovic scored the winner for Stoke. Watford drew 0-0 with Bournemouth.