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Woods snatches late draw for Leicester vs Everton Lukaku mostly quiet after big move

LEICESTER, UK, Aug 16, (AFP): Leicester City rescued a 2-2 draw against Everton as New Zealand striker Chris Wood snatched a late equaliser in his club’s first Premier League match for a decade. Nigel Pearson’s team are back in the English top-flight for the first time since 2004 and their return looked set to end in disappointment at the King Power Stadium. Aiden McGeady put Everton ahead in the first half and, although Leicester’s £8 million club record signing Leonardo Ulloa equalised soon after, Steven Naismith gave Roberto Martinez’s side the lead again just before the break. The Foxes became accustomed to finishing strongly as they amassed over 100 points en route to winning the Championship last season and they kept probing at the Everton defence before substitute Wood, who almost joined Championship club Wolves in midweek, snatched the equaliser with four minutes left.

Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry were available to make their first starts as permanent Everton players following successful loan spells last term. Former Celtic winger McGeady worked space for a shot on the edge of the penalty area in the early stages, but his effort was straight at Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. McGeady wasn’t to be denied when another chance fell his way in the 20th minute. A Leighton Baines corner ran through to Sylvain Distin and when Schmeichel raced out to block the defender’s shot, the ball fell for McGeady and he brilliantly curled his shot over two Leicester players on the goalline and into the far corner. Distin was at fault when Pearson’s side equalised two minutes later.

His attempted clearance from a corner smashed into Ulloa and the former Brighton forward made him pay by smashing a clinical finish past Tim Howard from close-range. Lukaku was mostly quiet following his £28 million move from Chelsea and even when the Belgian striker did break through he dragged his cross-shot across the face of goal. Naismith showed him how to do it as he put Everton back ahead on the stroke of half-time. A swift exchange of passes between Baines and Steven Pienaar unhinged the Leicester rearguard, allowing Scottish forward Naismith to drive a fine first-time shot in off the crossbar. Jeffrey Schlupp came off the bench for Leicester in the 63rd minute and the winger had a golden opportunity to equalise with his first touch.
 
Put clean through on goal, Schlupp completely lost his nerve and blasted high over the bar from the edge of the area. Barry, already on a booking, was lucky to escape a second yellow card after a clear foul as Leicester launched a counter-attack. But Leicester had no need to rue that decision as Wood lashed in the equaliser in the 86th minute after Phil Jagielka could only divert a tackle into his path.
 
Meanwhile, Everton manager Roberto Martinez has revealed he could be without England midfielder Ross Barkley for up to five months. Barkley suffered medial ligament damage in his right knee during a training session just 24 hours before Everton kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Leicester City on Saturday. It was initially believed Barkley would be ruled out for six to eight weeks. But Everton are still waiting to find out the full extent of the damage and Martinez fears he will be without one of his key players for a large part of the season. “He had a scan but it was a bit difficult to determine the extent. With the swelling we don’t really know how bad the injury is,” Martinez said during his post-match press conference at the King Power Stadium. “We know it’s a partial tear but that could be anything between seven weeks and I’ve seen injuries like that take four or five months.
 
“Ross Barkley is a phenomenal footballer and we’re going to miss him, there’s no doubt about it.
“He was very unfortunate to sustain the injury through an innocuous challenge in training and now he’s going to be out for a long, long time. “The squad should be big enough to be able to cope with losing a player, but it’s a disappointing moment when Ross Barkley was going to have a really big start to the season.” The injury is also a blow to England, with Barkley, who had featured for Roy Hodgson’s team at the World Cup, looking certain to miss the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Switzerland, San Marino and Estonia. However, Martinez backed the 20-year-old to cope with his latest setback, adding: “He was very disappointed because he was looking forward to the start of the season. “He put a lot of extra work in because he came back from the World Cup with a real desire to start the season well. “But he’s been through periods of bad adversity before and he knows how to cope with that.”
 
Chelsea’s Nigeria winger Victor Moses joined Stoke on a season-long loan on Saturday. Moses has struggled to make an impact at Stamford Bridge since moving from Wigan for £9 million ($15 million) in 2012 and spent last season on loan at Liverpool. The 23-year-old, who can play on both flanks and in a more central attacking role, is Stoke’s sixth signing since the end of last season. Stoke’s chief executive Tony Scholes said: “We are delighted to have secured the services of such an exciting young talent in Victor. “He will certainly add to our attacking options and from talking to him it’s obvious that he’s really excited about the prospect of making an impact in the Premier League with Stoke City.” Moses, who started his career in England at Crystal Palace, started six Premier League games for Liverpool last term and featured in a further 13 from the bench, scoring his only goal on his debut against Swansea. Born in Nigeria, Moses chose to represent England at various youth levels up to the under-21s before deciding to play for the country of his birth in senior internationals. He started all four games at the recent World Cup as Nigeria reached the last 16 before losing to France.

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