Leicester 1-0 Norwich: Leonardo Ulloa scores in the 89th minute
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 28/02/16 12:54am
Leicester are five points clear at the top of the Premier League after substitute Leonardo Ulloa scored in the 89th minute to secure a dramatic 1-0 win over Norwich.
Usually ebullient, the leaders were kept in check for the vast majority of the game by a well-organised Norwich side, desperate for points themselves as they battle the drop,
However, with time running out for the hosts, Ulloa turned in a low cross from Marc Albrighton to earn a victory which could have a huge impact in the title race.
Unfortunate Norwich departed with nothing despite a gutsy display, and were left to rue a first-half miss from Cameron Jerome, who headed wide from close range after getting on the end of a corner.
With their title rivals inactive, Leicester had a chance to steal a march, but were stymied early on by a Norwich side who had been cleverly set up by boss Alex Neil.
Defensive trio Russell Martin, Timm Klose and Ryan Bennett kept Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki quiet, while hard-working duo Ivo Pinto and Robbie Brady patrolled the flanks.
However, the Canaries were not clinical enough on the break, Jerome taking a poor touch after latching onto a Nathan Redmond pass when he should have shot first-time.
Leicester enjoyed a brief period of pressure around the quarter-hour mark, Okazaki having a close-range flick well-blocked by Bennett before a Martin clearance flashed just wide of his own goal.
Ten minutes later, Riyad Mahrez had a shot blocked by Martin after a delightful feint in the box, and an Albrighton free-kick drifted just wide, with Robert Huth inches away from getting a decisive touch.
But it was far from one-way traffic and Norwich should have taken the lead five minutes before the break as Jerome rose well to get on the end of a terrific Brady corner, only to glance his header wide of the post.
The Canaries then had a penalty shout but Wes Morgan did not appear to know much about it as a Jerome shot crashed off his elbow, and referee Neil Swarbrick was probably right not to award a spot-kick.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy had not been required to make a save in the first-half but he was busier after the break as Leicester upped the ante, getting down well to keep out a Vardy free-kick and a low shot from Albrighton.
But the hosts were not exactly laying siege to the Norwich goal and boss Claudio Ranieri called for reinforcements, bringing on Jeff Schlupp, who looked lively on his return from injury, Andy King and Ulloa.
However, it looked like being a very frustrating day for Leicester and Norwich almost went in front with five minutes left, Redmond unleashing a fine shot from distance which flew just wide of the post.
But Leicester's amazing season took another stunning turn with a minute left - Mahrez playing in Albrighton, whose superb low right-wing cross was turned in by Ulloa to spark jubilant scenes among the home supporters at the King Power Stadium.
Norwich flung on forwards Dieumerci Mbokani and Patrick Bamford, and the latter had a half-chance to snatch a point in injury-time, only to shoot wide after Leicester had struggled to clear a high cross.
But the leaders survived and their fans were able to greet the final whistle with a huge roar of relief just a couple of moments later.
The Foxes will now look on with interest at how their title rivals from north London fare on Sunday, before they entertain West Brom in another huge match on Tuesday night.
Norwich remain outside the drop zone only on goal difference but, if they continue to show the application and skill they did here, the Canaries will believe safety is attainable.
Soccer Saturday verdict - Charlie Nicholas
Leicester didn't play poorly, and you have to give credit to Norwich. They came with three at the back that transitioned to five without the ball, and stuck one up front in Jerome, who had pace to burn.
It's the best I've seen Norwich in terms of being compact. For the first time today I saw evidence of a shape that suits the team and the new signings. Klose and Pinto were very impressive.
Vardy had no space and Mahrez was quiet because Norwich suffocated them in the first half. In the second, they were quicker and more direct, and then the 'Tinkerman', or the 'Godfather', whatever Ranieri's title will become, decided to go for it and Ulloa came up with the trick.
When the goal went in the crowd went mad, and understandably so. It doesn't matter how you win when you're staring down the barrel of a title challenge. It's a tremendous result for them.
Leicester: Schmeichel (7), Amartey (6), Morgan (7), Huth (7), Fuchs (6), Drinkwater (6), Albrighton (7), Kante (6), Mahrez (7), Vardy (6), Okazaki (6)
Subs: King (6), Schlupp (7), Ulloa (7)
Norwich: Ruddy (7), Pinto (7), Martin (7), Klose (7), Bennett (7), Brady (7), Howson (6), Tettey (6), Redmond (7), Naismith (6), Jerome (5)
Subs: Jarvis (6), Mbokani (6), Bamford (6)
Player of the match: Marc Albrighton