Marcos Alonso earned Chelsea a draw after we had gone behind early against Leicester at Stamford Bridge, with the point almost certainly securing us third place in the Premier League.
James Maddison fired the Foxes in front as early as the sixth minute, but Chelsea recovered well and levelled through Alonso’s pinpoint volley shortly after the half-hour, Reece James the supplier.
Chelsea dominated thereafter. Edouard Mendy in our goal was not forced into a single save after Maddison’s opener, whereas we had several chances of our own to pick up all three points. Romelu Lukaku, Christian Pulisic and Toni Rudiger went closest to a winner, the American guilty of missing our best opportunity in the second half.
Nonetheless, it means third place is surely ours with a game to spare. Tottenham would need a goal difference swing of 18 to climb above us, so even if our home inconsistencies remain, it is job done ahead of Watford on Sunday.
Thomas Tuchel mades two changes to his FA Cup final starting XI for our penultimate game of the season.
N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech came into the side at the expense of Mateo Kovacic, still struggling with the ankle knock he sustained at Leeds, and Mason Mount.
Kai Havertz was fit enough to be named on the bench, where there was also a spot for Kenedy. Both Thiago Silva and Pulisic made their 50th Premier League start.
The Foxes brought Kelechi Iheanacho in to partner Jamie Vardy in attack as they reverted to a three-man defence and five in midfield.
Leicester lead early
In our most recent league outing it was the away side who struck early with a fine goal from the edge of the box, Mount’s effort at Elland Road, and history was to be repeated tonight as Leicester went ahead in just the sixth minute. Alonso hesitated intercepting a long pass and Maddison was alert to steal possession, drift past Thiago Silva and whip a fine finish beyond Mendy's reach.
The Blues responded well. Trevoh Chalobah blasted a shot from distance that the flying Kasper Schmeichel did well to tip over the bar, and then Lukaku was thwarted by an excellent Daniel Amartey block after a neat Kante pass had released him.
There was a sharpness about our play despite the early setback. On the half-hour, James fashioned an opening out of nothing only for Ziyech to see his shot blocked. Thiago Silva headed the resulting corner over.
So, when our equaliser arrived in the 35th minute, it felt deserved. A good Kante pass took Leicester’s midfield out of the equation, but James was still a long way from goal. He set himself before lofting a gorgeous, chipped pass to the far post. Alonso didn’t have to break stride, thumping his first-time volley past Schmeichel in front of the Matthew Harding Stand.
It was exemplary wing-back play from both, one drifting into central midfield to create, the other running beyond to add a goal threat. Alonso had certainly atoned for his earlier error.
The half drifted to a conclusion with Leicester a little more lively, but their only shot before the break remained the one Maddison broke the deadlock with.
Their second, 10 minutes after the interval, was smashed wildly over by Iheanacho. It rather summed up an error-strewn resumption.
Flurry of chances
On the hour, Ziyech called Schmeichel into two saves, admittedly comfortable ones. The first was from a free-kick won by Pulisic, the second stemming from a powerful Lukaku flick-on.
The roles were reversed when Ziyech whipped in an inviting left-sided cross, Lukaku directing his header wide. Then it was the Belgian’s turn to create. Taking James’s pass, he squared to Pulisic who couldn’t sort his feet out with the goal gaping, miscuing his shot well wide.
With the intensity of the contest cranking up, Rudiger stung Schmeichel’s palms on the spin and got booked in the space of a minute. You wouldn’t have known this was a contest between two teams with little to play for.
Tuchel brought Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Cesar Azpilicueta on for Kante and Pulisic as we approached the final quarter-hour. Immediately the pair combined to win a corner, from which Chalobah headed straight at Schmeichel.
Havertz for Lukaku was our final change. We continued to camp in the Foxes’ half, and with time running out, Ziyech freed Havertz whose touch let him down as he went to shoot. There were a couple of later efforts blocked as Leicester threw bodies on the line to protect a point. It worked, and another Bridge league fixture ended in a draw.
Watford at home on Sunday brings the 2021/22 campaign to a conclusion.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho (c), Kante (Loftus-Cheek 72), Alonso; Ziyech, Lukaku (Havertz 78), Pulisic (Azpilicueta 72).Unused subs Kepa, Kenedy, Sarr, Saul, Barkley, Mount.Scorer Alonso 34Booked Kante 47, Lukaku 59, Rudiger 66, Jorginho 85
Leicester (3-5-2)Schmeichel (c); Fofana, Evans, Amartey; Castagne, Maddison, Mendy, Dewsbury-Hall, Thomas; Iheanacho (Barnes 63), Vardy (Perez 78).Unused subs Ward, Soyuncu, Pereira, Choudhury, Albrighton, Lookman, DakaScorer Maddison 6Booked Evans 64
Referee Stuart AttwellCrowd 31,478