It all seemed so simple. Two goals ahead and cruising against a lacklustre Brentford, Leicester City seemed assured of three points.
larm bells failed to clang when Ivan Toney pulled one back and missed a simple headed chance. Enter substitute Josh Dasilva, who had failed to score in an injury-ravaged season last time out.
He collected a loose ball on 86 minutes, cut in from the right on the edge of the penalty area, skipped over a couple of half-hearted challenges and curled a beautiful equaliser past Danny Ward.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank admitted his emotions ran high after seeing the late equaliser by the Bees midfielder, who returned to action in February having been sidelined for 18 months due to a career-threatening hip problem followed by a hamstring injury.
“When he first scored I’m just very happy of course for the equaliser because every point in the Premier League you have to fight so hard for,” said Frank.
“But after the game in the dressing room I thought about Josh and I wanted to say some nice words to him. It was emotional because he’s been out for 18 months, he’s a player and a person I’ve worked with for four years. He’s a fantastic person.
“Seeing him coming back to the level we know, producing that top moment which also gave us a point, was very emotional and I’m very pleased for him.”
Leicester could only blame themselves, but like a gaggle of red and white striped magicians, Brentford had created something from nothing.
Eighth and 13th place for Leicester and Brentford seemed about right last time out. The summer could have gone better for both.
Toney stays for now, but Brentford’s attempts to cling on to Christian Eriksen ended in defeat. If they have less flair, they have more steel, and head coach Thomas Frank shored up his rickety defence with Ben Mee and Scottish right-back Aaron Hickey.
Kasper Schmeichel’s abrupt departure left Leicester being forced to trust in World Cup-bound goalkeeper Ward, whose sole Premier League appearance at Watford last season was his first at that level since 2016, although early saves from Bryan Mbeumo and at Toney’s feet steadied nerves.
Jamie Vardy will have had less turbulent rest periods and Ricardo Pereira is six months from fitness. Summer arrivals, there were none, save Aston Villa youth Paul Appiah. Eighth place already looks like a tough target.
James Justin was pushing high up the pitch to prey upon Hickey, who may not have encountered such relentless pressure in Serie A with Bologna last season. Hickey, though, stood firm and when Leicester began to seek other avenues, David Raya was called upon to make a camera-friendly flying save from Youri Tielemans after a fine ball from the dominant James Maddison. When the pair linked again, Maddison’s crafty header was inches wide of Raya’s post.
Leicester were dominant, but without a goal it was a fragile dominance. Just after the half-hour, one came. If the scorer was a surprise, its creator was not.
Maddison lobbed in a corner from the left and, as Toney slumbered soundly, Timothy Castagne ghosted past him to head beyond Raya, the Belgian’s first goal since last season’s corresponding fixture. Before half-time, yet more whiplash interplay between Maddison and Tielemans ended with the latter firing a drive against Raya’s post.
Any hopes of resurrection Brentford may have harboured appeared to be quashed within a minute of the re-start. Mee failed to cut out Wesley Fofana’s routine ball and Vardy cleverly helped it into the path of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, who walloped a low drive past Raya.
Mee was withdrawn and, almost instantly, Brentford pulled a goal back, when Toney out-muscled and out-thought Daniel Amartey to collect Rico Henry’s ball, swivel and fire past Ward.
Initially, it wasn’t quite the catalyst it might have been. Fofana looped a header on to Raya’s post, but when Brentford had a real chance of parity Toney – unmarked at the back post – ran in and nodded wide. With that, it seemed as though all Brentford’s hope was gone. Enter Dasilva. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)
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