Football: Leicester held as Boruc saves Mahrez penalty

Leicester's Jamie Vardy reacts to a missed chance.
Leicester's Jamie Vardy reacts to a missed chance.PHOTO: REUTERS

LEICESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Leicester wasted a chance to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal as Artur Boruc saved Riyad Mahrez's penalty to give 10-man Bournemouth a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Claudio Ranieri's side kicked off 2016 behind Arsenal only on goal difference, but they fell two points adrift of the Gunners at the end of a frustrating afternoon at the King Power Stadium.

Bournemouth defender Simon Francis was sent off in the second half after conceding a penalty, only for Mahrez to see his spot-kick kept out by Boruc.

After a superb run in the first half of the season, Leicester are enduring a rare stumble and Ranieri's team have now gone three games without a win or a goal.

Bournemouth's defeat at Arsenal on Monday ended a six-match unbeaten run that lifted them out of the relegation zone, but they bounced back impressively with a gritty display that leaves them four points above the bottom three.

Eddie Howe's men had a penalty appeal turned down in the second minute when Junior Stanislas's cross struck Wes Morgan.

Algeria winger Mahrez led Leicester's response with a brilliant bicycle kick that flashed just over from Marc Albrighton's cross.

Bournemouth were undeterred by that moment of magic and Josh King should have put them ahead moment later when he headed tamely wide after Stanislas hooked a cross into the six-yard box.

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy started despite struggling with a virus all week and he still looked under the weather when he missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring.

Leonardo Ulloa's long-range effort was scuffed into Vardy's path, but the Premier League's joint-top scorer could only poke a miscued shot against the woodwork from close-range before kicking out at a post in frustration.

King cleverly tricked his way past Robert Huth to set up a chance for Dan Gosling, yet the Bournemouth midfielder couldn't hit the target.

Ranieri sent on winger Nathan Dyer for Ulloa at half-time and the Foxes looked more menacing as a result.

Vardy had a curling strike superbly pushed away by Boruc, while Morgan should have done better than volley over from close-range soon after.

Leicester's pressure seemed to have paid off when Vardy surged clear and was fouled by Francis on the edge of the penalty area, earning a spot-kick and a red card for the Bournemouth defender.

Bournemouth protested that Francis won the ball and that the challenge was outside the area.

But Mahrez wasted the opportunity in any case as Boruc plunged to his left to keep out the penalty.

Leicester pressed to make amends and Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki volleyed wide from a Vardy knock down before N'Golo Kante flicked his shot narrowly off-target.

Mahrez was denied by Boruc again in the closing stages and Vardy glanced the resulting corner wide as Leicester ran out of time.