Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City

By Mark Wiltshire

Whats all the fuss about these world class foreign strikers? Chelsea may be spoilt for choice in that particular department but injury ravaged Leicester has to make do with what theyve got.

It just so happens that what they have got reliable, big, strong, British defenders - are finding the back of the net with increasing regularity.

Gerry Taggart followed in the giant footsteps of Matt Elliott, Steve Walsh and Ian Marshall in showing Chelseas goal-shy multi-million pound superstars how easy it is to score.

He struck on the stroke of half-time and it looked like giving the Midlands side their first win over Chelsea since referee Mike Reed awarded a controversial penalty in favour of the London side in FA Cup back in 1995.

Whereas Gianluca Vialli can snap up a former World Footballer of the Year in the guise of George Weah when the going gets tough, Martin ONeill has had to shuffle his pack and rely on pure passion and grit to steer his team out of tricky situations, before resorting to...Graham Fenton.

But with five minutes remaining, Dennis Wise rescued a point for his team that effectively rules out any possible title chance. Just like last season, two points dropped at home to Leicester have proved costly for Vialli in his effort to claim the championship.

Last season, it was the East Midlands side who came back from 2-0 down with 10 minutes left to secure the draw that effectively ended Chelsea's lingering title hopes.

This time, Gianluca Vialli will probably be relieved to have escaped with a point - just as his side did at Filbert Street back in August with a last-minute equaliser.

Leicester can be entirely proud of their performance, at times dominating proceedings and creating the better chances. But with the disillusioned home fans leaving in their thousands, Chelseas late pressure was eventually rewarded.

Taggart gave Leicester a half-time lead at Stamford Bridge against the run of play as Chelsea were made to pay for a lacklustre display.

Gianfranco Zola may have been restored to the starting line-up to partner new signing George Weah but they failed to inspire the home side beyond mediocrity. Chris Sutton was the odd man out - not even making the bench - although the crowd were informed by the announcer he was injured.

The first save of the game was not made until the 27th minute when Zola curled a free-kick around the wall only for keeper Pegguy Arphexad to dive low to his right.

Leicester suffered a further setback when Ian Marshall was carried off but they still managed to take the lead.

Taggart rose virtually unchallenged to head Stefan Oakes' cross against the foot of the post and keeper Ed De Goey could only palm the ball a couple of yards before it rebounded past him.

Poyet and Gabriele Ambrosetti were introduced after half-time on the flanks at the expense of Deschamps and Petrescu - yet they made little immediate impact.

It was Leicester who nearly scored the next goal when De Goey rushed off his line to meet a long ball. Emile Heskey chased the ball but the Dutch keeper blocked with his feet, with Fenton lobbing his follow-up effort over the bar.

In an attempt to score, Chelsea were throwing players forward in increasing numbers. This created space for Leicester to exploit on the counter attack.

Heskey broke free a second time after going round Frank Leboeuf, only to be denied by De Goey again as the keeper spread his body to block his shot. While Leicester defender Matt Elliott also had a header well saved by De Goey.

Poyet shot weakly at Arphexad when well-placed and when Flo's header was half-saved by the keeper, Steve Guppy's desperate attempts to clear resulted in him hacking the ball onto the crossbar and out to safety.

Then, with only five minutes left, Wise scored from Zola's free-kick - possibly with the help of a slight deflection - and Chelsea were level.

Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer (Flo 64), Thome, Leboeuf, Harley, Petrescu (Poyet 46), Deschamps (Ambrosetti 46), Wise, Di Matteo, Zola, Weah.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Terry.
Goals: Wise 85.

Leicester: Arphexad, Sinclair, Elliott, Taggart, Gilchrist, Eadie, Zagorakis, Oakes, Gunnlaugsson (Guppy 51), Marshall (Fenton 37), Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Flowers, Thomas, Stewart.
Booked: Fenton.
Goals: Taggart 41.
Att: 35,063
Ref: G Barber (Tring, Herts).