It was never going to be an easy task for Leicester when they took on Crystal Palace on Monday.
The visitors started the game in 13th place, but had already taken points from three of the current top four heading in, and made Brendan Rodgers’ team work for their 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture back in December.
The importance of a win was not lost on Leicester, though. And it certainly was not lost on Kelechi Iheanacho, whose inspirational performance may have just won his team a place in next season’s Champions League.
Leicester went in knowing that a victory would put them seven points clear of fifth-placed West Ham with five games to play. Even despite their propensity for losing their bottle in the key moments, that looks unassailable for any of the chasing pack.
But they had to get there first, and would have been fearing the worst when Wilfried Zaha raced onto Eberechi Eze’s pass to give Palace an unlikely lead.
This is a better Leicester team than a year ago, though. They have the resolve to dig deep and grind out wins, but more importantly, they have a depth to them that means they are no longer reliant on Jamie Vardy bailing them out.
The captain was on the pitch for all of this one, but he could only watch as Iheanacho single-handedly dug his team out of a hole. He made the equaliser, charging onto Youri Tielemans’ hopeful long ball and pulling it back to Timothy Castagne, whose equaliser shortly after the break was a huge relief.
He had netted eight goals in his last six league games heading into this one, so his goalscoring prowess was no longer a secret. But the match-winning moment here was possibly the pick of the lot.
He barely had a sight of goal as be brought the ball back into his weaker left foot, but he came up with something truly spectacular. Shifting the ball across Scott Dann, he manoeuvred into half a yard of space, and arrowed his strike high past a rooted Vicente Guaita.
It may be the goal that defines Rodgers’ Leicester so far, and it certainly puts them into a strong position in pursuit of their goals this season.
With just 15 points left to play for, they are right on the brink of securing a top four spot. Realistically, two wins will now do it, and with Southampton and Newcastle coming up, they could have things wrapped up before their gruesome final three games come into consideration.
With an FA Cup final also on the horizon, things are looking very bright indeed for the Foxes. They will be trying desperately not to get ahead of themselves, but Iheanacho’s stunning form makes that quite the task.