Leicester boss Dean Smith has backed Jamie Vardy to end the season on a flurry of goals after his late equalizer secured a 1-1 draw at relegation rival Leeds.
Vardy came off the bench as Tete’s replacement in the 70th minute to give the Foxes a crucial point after Luis Sinisterra’s first-half header put Leeds in front.
It was Vardy’s first Premier League goal since October, only his second of the season, and kept Smith’s side one place and one point behind Leeds in the table, just above the relegation zone.
Smith, who has had four points in his three games in charge since taking over from Brendan Rodgers, said: “(The forwards) know they are judged by the goals.
“It hasn’t been the most fruitful season for him, but that penalty (he won against Wolves) on Saturday and the goal tonight, it’s as important as it gets.
“Who knows, I could end up with eight goals at the end of the season.”
Vardy had another effort disallowed for offside when Leicester threatened to snatch all three points from him after dominating possession in the second period.
Smith said: “I think it’s his 135th Premier League goal, which shows the quality of striker we have. I am very happy that he got that goal.
“The shot he’s scored today, we’ve seen him take a lot of them over time and if we can keep creating shots like that, he’s going to take them.”
Smith admitted his team could have ended up with nothing to show for their efforts in a topsy-turvy encounter after clear chances from Leeds pair Marc Roca and Patrick Bamford in the final minutes.
Roca’s header from a corner was brilliantly saved by Daniel Iversen before Victor Kristiansen sliced the ball off the goal line, while Bamford missed from one yard out at the far post after another corner.
Leeds head coach Javi Gracia was buoyed by his players’ struggle after three straight defeats, but couldn’t hide his disappointment after they let their lead slip away.
Asked if his team should have won the game, the Spaniard said: “To be honest, I don’t know.
“We have one more point, but after competing in the game like we did, it’s hard to get just one point.
“Even after conceding the goal, we had the clearest chance. We have to keep going and prepare as well as possible for the next game”.
Both teams face relegation rivals again in their next match. Leeds play Bournemouth on Sunday and Leicester face Everton at home on Monday.