Leicester squander PK chance in bitter draw vs. Bournemouth

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Leicester City, perhaps starting to feel the pressure of their lofty Barclay's Premier League status, squandered a penalty kick opportunity and could not break down a resolute Bournemouth side Saturday at the King Power Stadium so were left to settle for a 0-0 draw which concluded their tough holiday program with them gaining just two of a possible nine points.

"Of course I am disappointed but if I analyze all the match, they played well in the first half." Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said.

"Forty points, come on. It's fantastic. We didn't score but it's another clean sheet and champagne for my players, of course. Or maybe the chairman pays. I buy the pizza."

The visiting Cherries, forced to play the final 30 minutes-plus with ten-men after captain Simon Francis was controversially sent off to concede the spot kick that Artur Boruc saved from Riyad Mahrez, deservedly knocked Leicester off its share of first place in the league.

Arsenal's 1-0 win over Newcastle in London means the Gunners moved two points clear of the Foxes, who had led the league on Christmas Day but now have failed to score in three straight matches after scoring in all of their first 17.

It was a case of Bournemouth surviving the closing half-hour and another day when Leicester could not get into its flowing, successful attacking game.

There were three clear chances not taken in the even, often disorganized opening half. Josh King missed a good opportunity to put the visitors ahead in the 16th men when he nodded wide from six yards after Junior Stanislas had done very well to to keep a far post cross alive by cutting it back across the face of goal for the open header.

Then it was Jamie Vardy's turn to spurn a gilt-edge opportunity when Leonardo Ulloa's scuffed attempt somehow stuck at Vardy's feet in the center of box. The Leicester goal-machine got past the defender and had Artur Boruc at his mercy, only for the shot to beat the keeper, hit the inside of the left post and rebound away from danger 10 minutes later.

Later, King did extremely well to get to the right byeline, fend off a defender and cut the ball back for an open Dan Gosling in the 37th minute. Gosling got his shot all wrong, lifting the ball well over Kasper Schmeichel's crossbar.

Ranieri replaced Ulloa at the interval, sending on Nathan Dyer in an attempt to get the sputtering Leicester attack going. A breakthrough should have come in the 58th minute when a super pass sent Vardy in down the middle only for Francis to slide in with the tackle and appear to win the ball before Vardy spilled across him in the box. Referee Andre Mariner decided it was a penalty, showed a red card to Francis and gave the Foxes an opportunity from the spot.

Mahrez hit the spot kick to the right and Boruc flew across, got both hands behind the ball to make a save that perhaps was a case of justice done. Bournemouth will doubtless appeal against the red card and look for Francis to escape suspension.

Ten-man Bournemouth was then forced into a defensive posture, hoping to absorb the pressure over the final half hour. Ranieri sought to up the Leicester attacking ante by sending on Shinji Okazaki to replace Marc Albrighton.

Christian Fuchs nearly fooled Boruc with a quickly taken corner which he tried to sneak home at the near post in the 80th minute, but the ball hit the side net as the Cheeries' keeper scrambled across his goal.

Vardy was down in the box again in stoppage time but this time Mariner waved away the Leicester claims and Bournemouth road out the final minutes.
Off the field, the Press Association reported Leicester has had a bid for Birmingham winger Demarai Gray accepted, a sign that Ranieri is looking to reinforce his squad during the January transfer window.

It doesn't get any easier for the Foxes, who now look ahead to a pair of matches with Tottenham Hotspur in the space of four days at White Hart Lane. The teams meet Sunday in the FA Cup third round, then again on Jan. 13 in a Premier League battle.

Bournemoth has a trip to Championship side Birmingham City next Saturday to begin their FA Cup bid. The Cherries' next Premier League fixture is Jan. 12 when they are home to West Ham United.

Information from PA Sport was used in this match report.