Press Association report

Liverpool let two vital points slip in their bid to emerge as genuine Premiership title challengers to Manchester United as they failed to tame determined Leicester City at Filbert Street.

With Alex Ferguson's side not in action, Liverpool were effectively playing their game in hand but a share of the spoils leaves them with an eight-point gap to make up.

It was a game which promised much but delivered little as both sides played some neat football but were found wanting in the final third of the pitch.

Steve McManaman looked the most likely to unlock the Leicester defence with his mazy runs and incisive passes but Leicester were a hard nut to crack with Matt Elliott outstanding at the heart of their defence.

It is no wonder that Liverpool manager Roy Evans has expressed an interest in the newly capped Scottish international who a year ago was battling for First Division survival with Oxford United.

He helped ensure that Leicester keeper Kasey Keller was only seriously tested on a couple of occasions with few opportunities afforded to Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen.

But Leicester were by no means penned back in their own half and left wing-back Steve Guppy caused problems for the visitors with his pace and crosses into the area against a side which still has a question mark against it defensively.

Liverpool had more of the play territorially early on as they looked full of confidence as befits a side which had won their previous five league matches.

McManaman was able to find a fair amount of space as Leicester chose not to repeat the man-marking tactic on the England player which had helped them to triumph 2-1 at Anfield in August.

Fowler screwed a shot across the face of the goal after being found in space by Steve Harkness but Leicester weathered the early pressure and caused Liverpool problems in the air at the back.

Much of the ammunition was supplied by Guppy and it was his cross which set up a chance for Leicester skipper Steve Walsh who headed over from close range.

Keller was called into meaningful action in the 26th minute when he dealt with a low 20-yard effort from Paul Ince.

But the only other time he was tested was in first half injury time when he blocked an effort at close range from Oyvind Leonhardsen after the ball had been threaded through to him by Jamie Redknapp.

The second half opened in a similar vein to the first with Liverpool enjoying the lion's share of the possession and Jason McAteer presented with acres of space on the right flank.

But clearcut chances were again at a premium before Keller beat out a 60th minute first-time effort from Fowler after he was found in space by McManaman.

Leicester rallied and Guppy's deep centre evaded Liverpool keeper David James but Elliott at the far post could only find the side-netting with his half-volley.

Rising star Owen was presented with a rare chance after another incisive ball from McManaman but after bursting into the area he was foiled by a superb tackle from Elliott.

Elliott again ventured forward and held his head in his hands after screwing his shot across the face of the goal after Muzzy Izzet rolled the ball invitingly into his path.

Leicester: Keller, Savage, Guppy, Kaamark, Elliott, Walsh, Izzet, Lennon, Parker, Marshall, Heskey (Cottee, 86).

Subs not used: Arphexad, Prior, Fenton, Wilson.

Booked: Elliott.

Liverpool: James, McAteer, Babb, McManaman, Leonhardsen, Fowler, Redknapp, Harkness, Ince, Owen (Berger, 78), Matteo.

Subs not used: Jones, Carragher, Murphy, Friedel.

Booked: McAteer.

Attendance: 21,633.

Referee: S W Dunn (Bristol).

Copyright - Press Association

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