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Liverpool miss golden chance

Liverpool remain in fourth place after this sometimes frantic and rarely impressive display at the Walkers Stadium. Following their UEFA Cup exit in Marseilles on Thursday, they will be grateful for small mercies but this was another less than convincing display from Gerard Houllier's underachievers.

With Newcastle losing at Bolton, Liverpool squandered the chance to put daylight between fourth and fifth positions, only edging a point clear in the fourth Champions League place.

And for Leicester, a ninth draw out of 16 home games - and 13th of the season - did little to soothe their relegation worries, and they remain in the bottom three despite a determined performance that deserved more.

But while Leicester are left to contemplate the prospect of returning to the First Division, the pressure on Houllier, whose team have not won away from Anfield in the League since the first week of January, will only continue.

Houllier defended his team, believing that Liverpool, weary after their performance in France, were unfortunate not to win. "We have travelled in Europe after a game in which, for a long period, we had 10 against 11, and we have played against a team who are playing for their survival," he said.

Of Liverpool's chances of claiming that Champions League spot, Houllier added: "We've had one final today and now we have eight finals to go, so we know what we have to do. We have five games at home and three away so our future is in our own hands."

Micky Adams, the Leicester manager, said: "We are pleased to keep our unbeaten run going and I thought we were unlucky at the end. That's a point that not too many would have given us and we are pleased with it."

Adams was obviously disappointed, however, that his team had drawn rather than won. Leicester boast the best unbeaten sequence in the Premiership after Arsenal, but that run of six games without defeat has brought five draws and only one win.

In a first half dominated by nerves from both teams, Liverpool came closest to scoring when Ian Walker was forced to touch Steven Gerrard's effort around a post. Another opportunity was squandered when Gerrard found the side-netting.

There was another nervous moment for Leicester when Walker, prone to mistakes this season but restored to the England squad, was caught out by an awkward bounce from Dietmar Hamann's volley and knew little about the save he made.

Liverpool lacked the determination of Leicester - for whom Marcus Bent produced another impressive display which deserved a goal - but still seemed capable of claiming the three points, particularly after Bruno Cheyrou's rising effort late in that half which hit the bar.

Leicester, who had bravely opted for a three-pronged attack, made a half-time alteration with Steve Guppy replacing Lilian Nalis while Houllier, who had to be restrained by opposite number Micky Adams from approaching the assistant referee in the first half, made a change midway through the second period that almost brought immediate dividends.

Danny Murphy offered, as his first contribution, a delicate back heel that presented Milan Baros with an opportunity he should have taken. Instead the striker, playing in place of the injured Michael Owen, carried the ball too far and then struck his attempt straight at Walker.

Before that golden opportunity, Leicester had a chance when Ben Thatcher - who should make his senior international debut this week for Wales - struck a ferocious free-kick through the Liverpool wall, so hard that Jerzy Dudek could only parry.

Liverpool brought on more firepower in the shape of Florent Sinama-Pongolle and, with his back to goal, his audacious flick almost brought a goal.

Thatcher attempted another powerful free-kick but Dudek again got his body behind it, and then Leicester had a marvellous chance to steal a late winner.

Steffen Freund delivered the cross and Muzzy Izzet, presented with the chance to lift his side out of the bottom three, sent it wide.

Match details

Leicester: Walker, Scimeca, Dabizas, Heath, Thatcher, Freund, Izzet, Nalis (Guppy 45), Ferdinand, Bent, Dickov.
Subs Not Used: Coyne, Benjamin, Canero, Gillespie.
Booked: Heath, Dabizas, Bent, Dickov.

Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Biscan, Traore, Cheyrou (Murphy 70), Gerrard, Hamann, Kewell, Heskey, Baros (Sinama Pongolle 85).
Subs Not Used: Henchoz, Diouf, Luzi Bernardi.
Booked: Carragher, Hamann, Baros.

Att: 32,013
Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

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