London, Jul 12 (efe-epa).- Leicester City suffered what can only be described as a meltdown Sunday against relegation-threatened Bournemouth, blowing a 1-0 half-time lead to lose 4-1 and jeopardize their qualification for the 2020-2021 Champions League.
The result also further scrambled the situation at the bottom end of the table, as the Cherries moved ahead of Aston Villa into 18th and within 3 points of safety.
For the first half of the match at Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium, the hosts looked like a team resigned to relegation and the Foxes dominated.
Jamie Vardy gave the visitors the 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute with his 23rd goal of the Premier League campaign and everything pointed in the direction of Leicester’s seeing out the match to go ahead of Chelsea in third.
Instead, a rare mistake by Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel with 25 minutes left turned the contest on its head.
The son of Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel sent a goal kick careening off one of his own players to Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, forcing Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi to bring down the attacker in the area.
Junior Stanislas converted from the spot to level the score at 1-1 in the 66th minute.
Seconds later, a shot from Dominic Solanke dribbled across the goal line with Schmeichel out of position and the Cherries led 2-1. When Wilson went into the net to get the ball, Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu kicked him.
The referee pulled out a red card and the Foxes went down to 10 men.
A shot by Stanislas in the 83rd minute took a deflection over Leicester’s Jonny Evans to put the home side up 3-1 and Solanke added a second goal with three minutes left in regulation for the 4-1.
Leicester stay fourth on 59 points, just 1 more than Man United, who have a game in hand and have won four out of five matches since the Premier League returned to action after losing 100 days to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Red Devils can go third with a victory Monday against Southampton, which would push Chelsea down to fourth and leave the Foxes in fifth.
Fifth place will become a Champions League berth if the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides on Monday to uphold the two-year ban on European play UEFA imposed on Manchester City for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations
But the battle for fifth is also heating up, as sixth-place Wolverhampton trail Leicester by only 4 points.
Bournemouth climb to 31 points to overtake Villa and go to within 3 points of the two clubs just above the drop zone, Watford and West Ham United, who will face each other on Friday.
Norwich City are already relegated, but with the 15th and 19th spots separated by a mere 6 points and three games left, predicting which two teams will join the Canaries next season in the Championship remains tricky.
Struggling Tottenham Hotspur topped Arsenal 2-1 earlier Sunday in a North London derby that revived Jose Mourinho’s ambitions to see his squad play in Europe in 2020-2021.
Spurs, who reached the Champions League final last year, can’t qualify for Europe’s elite competition this season, but have put themselves in position to battle for a Europa League berth.
Taking all 3 points from the first-ever clash with Arsenal to be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium lifted them to eighth place with 52 points.
With the loss, Arsenal are ninth with 50 points.