Leicester City played some brilliant attacking football and had 22 attempts on goal but dropped two vital points in their pursuit of a first Premier League title when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
The leaders were denied victory by a stunning free kick from Craig Gardner and while they moved three points clear of Tottenham Hotspur, Spurs will replace them in top spot if they win at West Ham on Wednesday thanks to a better goal difference.
While Leicester and Spurs are locked in hot pursuit of the title, reigning champions Chelsea continued their revival under interim coach Guus Hiddink with a third successive league win — 2-1 over relegation-threatened Norwich City.
Sunderland grabbed a point with a last minute goal to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace while Everton pushed Aston Villa closer to relegation with a 3-1 win at Villa Park, where thousands of fans walked out in protest at the way the club is being run.
At the top, Leicester, on 57 points with 10 matches to play, would have opened up a five-point gap with a win but manager Claudio Ranieri was far from despondent despite the two dropped points.
“I am very pleased with our performance,” he told the BBC.
“They played so well, there was no panic after the first goal. We played much better than against Norwich (on Saturday).
“I want to create a lot of chances and sooner or later we score. Tonight wasn’t the right moment but we are alive and we fight to the end. Everybody is ready to fight, to play well, to create chances. Only the victory was missing.”
Leicester came close to dropping two points on Saturday before beating Norwich with a last-minute goal, but they could not repeat the trick on Tuesday.
They fell behind after 11 minutes when West Brom’s Salomon Rondon became the first player to score a league goal against them at the King Power Stadium in 2016.
However, they struck back with a fortuitous deflected shot from Danny Drinkwater and went ahead with a brilliantly-executed first league goal of the season for Andy King on the stroke of halftime.
They were pegged back after 50 minutes when Gardner’s 25-metre free kick left Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel rooted to the spot.
Leicester struck the woodwork twice with efforts from Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, while Leonardo Ulloa, Saturday’s match-winner against Norwich, almost grabbed another winner in the final few seconds but his effort went just wide.
Chelsea stretched their unbeaten league run to 12 matches since former manager Jose Mourinho left in December after a 2-1 win at Norwich, where Kenedy scored the fastest goal in the league this season, after 39 seconds, to put the visitors ahead.
The victory was secured by a second goal from Diego Costa, which looked offside, and lifted Chelsea to eighth.
Interim coach Hiddink told Sky: “We didn’t want to go into the battle but they forced us. We were sloppy in the first half, starting well with a beautiful goal and I think we could have finished it in the first half.
“We were complacent with the last pass. They made our life difficult.”
Norwich pulled a goal back through Nathan Redmond after 68 minutes but defeat saw them slide into the bottom three behind Sunderland.
Aston Villa inched closer to relegation with a 3-1 loss to Everton at Villa Park.
The fans’ protest was planned for the 74th minute, in recognition of Villa’s founding in 1874, by which time the hosts were already 3-0 down.
Villa are eight points adrift at the bottom behind Sunderland, Norwich and Newcastle United, who are all on 24.
In the night’s other match, Bournemouth beat Southampton 2-0 for their first league win over their south coast rivals since 1958.