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English Premiership

Gerrard brace in vain as Leicester hit back

GERRARD-PENALTYLIVERPOOL, January 1- Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard converted two penalties, but saw his side surrender a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Leicester City in the Premier League on New Year’s Day.

Experienced midfielder Gerrard, who has yet to sign a new contract at Anfield, with his current deal set to expire in six months’ time, underlined his quality from the spot with two well-taken kicks in the first half.

But bottom club Leicester fought back after half-time and secured a point when Jeffrey Schlupp equalised on the hour mark, two minutes after David Nugent had pulled a goal back with a spectacular half-volley.

Liverpool were without the suspended Martin Skrtel, who was replaced by Kolo Toure, while Gerrard returned to the starting line-up after being rested for their 4-1 win over Swansea City on Monday.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson made four changes to the team that had won 1-0 at Hull City, with Jamie Vardy back from a ban and Ritchie De Laet, Danny Drinkwater and Dean Hammond all drafted in.

Riyad Mahrez, who scored Leicester’s winner against Hull, almost capitalised on a poorly positioned Liverpool wall in the second minute with a curling free-kick that struck the base of the post.

The elusive Algerian almost punished Liverpool 10 minutes later when he nipped in between Mamadou Sakho and Alberto Moreno to get on the end of Schlupp’s low cross to the back post, but could only curl his shot wide.

Liverpool looked heavy-legged in comparison to the visitors, but the hosts took the lead in the 17th minute when Gerrard converted his first goal from the spot.

Referee Mike Jones’s decision to award the spot-kick had been controversial, with Raheem Sterling’s low cross appearing to have struck the sliding Wes Morgan in the face rather than on the Leicester captain’s arm.

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But Gerrard made no mistake and placed a low effort into the bottom-right corner.

– Lallana forced off –

Liverpool went close again on the half-hour when Adam Lallana twisted and turned on the edge of the penalty area and struck a fierce, low drive that flashed just past the post.

It was another of Liverpool’s attackers, Philippe Coutinho, who enabled the hosts to increase their advantage before the interval via another penalty, which was altogether more clear-cut.

The Brazilian schemer tried to lift a cross into the area and the ball clearly struck Danny Simpson on the hand.

Gerrard elected to put his spot-kick into the opposite corner and sent Leicester goalkeeper Ben Hamer the wrong way to take his goal tally for the season to seven.

Lallana, as impressive as he was in the win over Swansea, limped out 10 minutes into the second half and was replaced by Fabio Borini.

Shortly after, Leicester remarkably got themselves back on level terms with two goals in the space of as many minutes.

The first was brilliantly worked as Vardy, with his back to goal, controlled Matty James’s clever high ball on the edge of the penalty area and teed up Nugent, whose superbly executed strike flew into the top corner.

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Liverpool’s defence barely had time to recover their composure before Leicester levelled on the hour mark through Schlupp.

The Ghana international was allowed time and space to shoot and arrowed a low shot past the diving Simon Mignolet from just outside the area.

The unmarked Borini should have done better than sky the ball into the Kop when he was picked out in the area by Sterling’s cross in the 75th minute.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers threw on Lazar Markovic and Rickie Lambert, but despite a concerted spell of pressure, the home side were unable to find a winner.

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