Leicester Beat Sheffield Utd to Boost Top Four Spot

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Ayoze Perez (right) scored his 50th Premier League goal as Leicester City defeated Sheffield United 2-0 to stay on course for a Champions League spot

PREMIER LEAGUE

Leicester City got their Champions League push back on track with a narrow 2-0 win over Sheffield United to move within a point of third-placed Chelsea.

The hosts dominated the first half with 19-year-old debutant Luke Thomas impressing at left wing-back and it was his low cross which set up the opener for Ayoze Perez after 29 minutes.

Brendan Rodgers’ side should have extended their lead after the break when Harvey Barnes was twice denied by Dean Henderson after clever through balls by Jamie Vardy.

The Foxes’ top scorer also hit the post, and it looked as though Sheffield United might force their way back into the match after a second-half improvement

They came closest to scoring when John Egan’s header was tipped wide by Kasper Schmeichel.

But, as the game hung in the balance, substitute Demarai Gray, on for Barnes, collected Vardy’s pass and beat Henderson to finally seal the win after 79 minutes.

Leicester’s victory was only their second in six games since the restart but it was a timely boost for Rodgers’ team, who moved three points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United who face Crystal Palace later on Thursday

For Chris Wilder’s visitors, the result ended a four-game unbeaten run which included wins over Tottenham, Wolves and Chelsea.

They remain eighth, two points behind sixth-placed Wolves, with the prospect of European football next season looking out of their hands.

Elsewhere, substituted Theo Walcott scored an 87th-minute equaliser for Everton to nudge Aston Villa closer to relegation.

Ezri Konsa’s first Premier League goal looked to have earned struggling Villa a crucial win at Goodison Park, the former Brentford defender pouncing from close range after getting on the end of Conor Hourihane’s free-kick.

But Villa were denied a first away win since 1 January when Walcott headed the home side level despite Konsa’s attempted goal-line clearance.

Villa, who were seven points from safety before Sunday’s win over Crystal Palace, remain 19th in the table, three points from safety with just two games of the league season left.

They face Arsenal at home next Tuesday before finishing the season at fellow strugglers West Ham.