LEICESTER (Reuters) - A rare double from defender Antonio Rudiger earned Chelsea a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw with third-placed Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard sprung a major surprise ahead of kick off by leaving out first choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after some recent poor showings, handing a start to 38-year-old Willy Caballero.
The veteran was called into action to make a smart save to deny Jamie Vardy in a first half otherwise largely dominated by Chelsea, who again struggled to make their chances count in front of goal.
However, it did not take the visitors long after the break to take the lead, as Rudiger headed home his first league goal since October 2018 just over a minute into the second half.
The lead did not last long though, as Harvey Barnes found the net eight minutes later via a huge deflection, before the turnaround was complete in the 64th minute as Ben Chilwell slotted home to give Leicester the lead.
Rudiger had the final say, however, looping a header over Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in the 71st minute to snatch a draw that means Leicester remain eight points clear of Lampard’s side in fourth, who have won just four of their last 13 league games.
“Not many people gave us the top four slot and I understand why, and it’s probably the same now,” Lampard said. “We’ve come to Leicester, who everyone’s raving about, quite rightly, and we’ve got a point. We move on.”
Chelsea almost struck first with just five minutes on the clock, with Callum Hudson-Odoi missing his kick from a good goalscoring position.
Further opportunities came and went for Chelsea before Harvey Barnes blazed Leicester’s best chance over later in the half.
With fans still taking their seats after the interval Chelsea found the net through Rudiger, who climbed highest at the back post. But the Blues were immediately pegged back by Barnes, who scored for the third league game in a row.
Some slack defending from Chelsea allowed Chilwell to find space in the penalty area, as he met Youri Tielemans’ low cross to give his side the lead.
But out of nowhere, Rudiger looped a header into the net to level things up once more with his first-ever career double.
Jonny Evans and Barnes should have won it for Leicester late on, but missed golden chances that ensured Brendan Rodgers’ search for a first win as a manager against Chelsea goes on.
“Against a top team it might be deemed a good result but we should win that game,” Rodgers said. “These players are still learning and still young and there’s elements we will be better in going forward.”
Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Hugh Lawson