MARCOS ALONSO scored the goal that secures third place for Chelsea.
But if boss Thomas Tuchel could shut up shop and end this season a game early he probably would.
James Maddison bent in a beauty to fire Leicester in frontCredit: Alamy
Marcos Alonso got Chelsea level as he flashed home a volleyCredit: AFP
Two cup final defeats, trailing far behind Manchester City and Liverpool, player unrest, a cash flow crisis, a takeover and most of the defence leaving or desperate to.
Bronze medal position in the Premier League hardly counts as success at this club even if, given the circumstances, Tuchel has done a decent job.
Fourth-placed Tottenham can still draw level on points this Sunday but Chelsea’s goal difference is 18 better than Spurs.
There is a sense that Chelsea are just biding time now and focused on getting over the line on Sunday in order to regroup and start the overhaul under new owner Todd Boehly and his American backers.
Stamford Bridge is a third empty because ticket sales are banned under Government rules and even those who can come to games just want to put this season behind them to focus on the future.
After the deflating FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool on Saturday, the old Chelsea would have bared its teeth returning to Premier League action.
But in a game with relatively little riding on it, Leicester rolled out a performance of confidence and relaxed football which made them dangerous in the first half particularly.
Beached in the no-man’s land of mid-table, the lack of pressure seemed to suit the visitors far more than Chelsea.
James Maddison’s goal after seven minutes was flukey in the way it fell to him but there was no accident with the superb finish.
Timothy Castagne latched on to a long punt upfield from keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
His diagonal ball inside cannoned off the shins of Antonio Rudiger and into the path of Maddison.
He then unleashed a beauty of a shot that arced precisely beyond the reach of Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy but just inside his near post.
While the City midfielder stood and took the adulation of the away end, Tuchel stood frozen on the touchline, arms outstretched in a gesture of utter bewilderment at how that goal happened.
Along with everything else in a deeply frustrating campaign, Stamford Bridge is not what it once was. Neither is Chelsea’s ability to rebound if they go behind.
Current Chelsea are struggling for a rhythm and it was hard work watching them grind it out in search of an equaliser.
This made Alonso’s goal all the more welcome for the home fans with its delivery and skill in the taking.
Wing-back Reece James, who has been tortured by City’s impressive young left-back Luke Thomas all half, finally got some breathing space to pump a high ball to the far post.
That’s where he found Alonso charging at full pace to smash in a left-foot volley from just outside the six-yard box – a trademark goal for the Spanish full-back.
Alonso thanks Reece James for his perfect assistCredit: EPA
Maddison celebrates firing the Foxes in front in styleCredit: Getty
Alonso is one of several Chelsea stars looking to leave the club this summer with lucrative offers back home tempting him, club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Rudiger.
German Rudiger is seen as the biggest miss and the aggressive centre-back is guaranteed a rousing send-off at home to Watford on Sunday in his final match before departing for Real Madrid.
But after testing Schmeichel with a low, powerful shot in the 63rd minute he can count himself lucky to still get the chance to wave goodbye to Stamford Bridge in three days’ time.
A rush of blood triggered a full-on mid-air two-footed at Wesley Fofana in a reckless tackle that was worth more than the yellow dished out by ref Stuart Attwell.
City captain Schmeichel’s own future with Leicester has been a subject for debate in recent days.
But a series of saves and a commanding and confident performance last night underlines how difficult it will be for boss Brendan Rodgers to replace him.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have all-but sealed third place in the Premier LeagueCredit: Getty
Incoming Chelsea owner Todd Boehly was in the stands at the Bridge againCredit: Getty
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