Leicester boss Dean Smith has backed Jamie Vardy to finish the season with a flurry of goals after his late equaliser clinched a 1-1 draw at relegation rivals Leeds.
Vardy stepped off the bench as a 70th-minute replacement for Tete to earn the Foxes a crucial point after Luis Sinisterra’s first-half header had put Leeds in front.
It was Vardy’s first Premier League goal since October – just his second of the season – and kept Smith’s side one place and a point behind Leeds in the table, just above the drop zone.
Smith, who has taken four points from his three games in charge since replacing Brendan Rodgers, said: “(Strikers) know they’re judged by goals.
“It’s not been the most fruitful of seasons for him, but that penalty (he won against Wolves) on Saturday and the goal tonight – he’s as important as they come.
“Who knows, he could end up with eight goals by the end of the season.”
Vardy had another effort ruled out for offside as Leicester threatened to snatch all three points after dominating possession in the second period.
Smith said: “I think it’s his 135th Premier League goal, which just shows you the quality of the striker we have. I’m really pleased he got that goal.
Smith conceded his side could have ended up with nothing to show for their efforts in a topsy-turvy encounter after clear chances for Leeds pair Marc Roca and Patrick Bamford in the closing minutes.
Roca’s header from a corner was brilliantly saved by Daniel Iversen before Victor Kristiansen hacked the ball off the goal-line, while Bamford missed from a yard out at the back post following another corner.
Leeds head coach Javi Gracia took heart from his players’ battling display after three successive defeats, but could not hide his disappointment after they let slip the lead.
“We have one more point, but after competing in the game as we did it is hard to get only one point.
“Even after conceding the goal we had the clearest chance. We have to keep going and prepare for the next game as best as possible.”
Both sides face relegation rivals again in their next match. Leeds play at Bournemouth on Sunday and Leicester face Everton at home on Monday.