Nathan Dyer scored a brave 89th-minute winner as Leicester City stormed back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 and claim second place in the Premier League on Sunday.
Villa looked set to inflict a first defeat of the campaign on Claudio Ranieri’s men after stylish first-time finishes either side of halftime by Jack Grealish and Carles Gil put them in control at the King Power Stadium.
But Ritchie De Laet halved the deficit in the 72nd minute with a flick from a Riyad Mahrez corner that the Goal Decision System showed had just crossed the line before Jamie Vardy turned in Danny Drinkwater’s low cross for the equaliser 10 minutes later.
With Villa hanging on, Mahrez floated a cross into the box and Dyer, a halftime replacement for Shinji Okazaki, showed huge courage to beat outrushing goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the ball and head home.
“It’s fantastic. We showed spirit and good character,” said Leicester manager Ranieri, who succeeded the sacked Nigel Pearson in July.
“After 2-0, I watched my players and they believed everything was possible.
“I told the players we have 11 points and we still need 29. I don’t know when to achieve these points, but as soon as possible. At the moment we want to think only about the safety of the team.”
The result preserved Leicester’s unbeaten record and left them four points below leaders Manchester City, with their Midlands rivals Villa seven points back in 15th place.
Villa manager Tim Sherwood was unable to disguise his disappointment, telling the BBC: “I’ve never felt this bad. Ever.
“There was a lot of bad play there in the last half hour. The only way you can stop the momentum is to stop the opposition. We turned it over stupidly.
“I’m gutted for everyone who’s associated with the football club.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino encouraged his team to kick on after they won 1-0 at Sunderland to claim their first victory of the campaign.
Ryan Mason finished off an intricate move to score the winner in the 82nd minute after Tottenham had weathered spells of pressure at the Stadium of Light, with Spurs old boy Jermain Defoe notably hitting the post.
After a defeat and three draws in Spurs’ first four games, it was a win that had taken its time in coming and Pochettino voiced optimism that it would be a sign of things to come.
“It’s another clean sheet, the first victory of the league after five games, and now we can move on. This will help us with our confidence for the next games,” said the Argentinian, whose side climbed to 12th.
Spurs grew into the game and made the breakthrough when Mason ran onto a through ball from substitute Erik Lamela to score at the culmination of a 15-pass move.
Mason was clattered by Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon in the act of scoring and had to be stretchered off, but Pochettino said it did not appear to be a serious injury.
“The goal showed how we tried to play and what our philosophy is,” the Spurs manager told Sky Sports.
“It was fantastic, but unlucky for him because he got a big knock on his knee. But we hope it is not a big issue.”
Dick Advocaat’s Sunderland, who hit the bar through substitute Jack Rodwell in the closing stages, sank to the foot of the table on goal difference.
Manchester City snatched a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, leaving champions Chelsea 11 points off the pace – and one place above the relegation zone – following a 3-1 reverse at Everton.
Manchester United, meanwhile, moved up to third place after 19-year-old French striker Anthony Martial scored a debut goal in a 3-1 home win over Liverpool.