Chelsea substitute Eden Hazard’s stunning late goal earned Chelsea a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Monday that completed Leicester City’s fairytale quest for the Premier League title.
With Leicester’s players reportedly gathered at the home of striker Jamie Vardy to watch the match, goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min at Stamford Bridge appeared to have set Spurs up for a victory that would have kept their title hopes alive.
But after Gary Cahill had reduced the arrears in the 58th minute of a stormy affair, Hazard met Diego Costa’s pass with a first-time shot into the top-right corner in the 83rd minute to send hordes of supporters in Leicester, as well as their millions of new admirers around the world, into raptures.
Claudio Ranieri’s side, 5,000-1 title outsiders who narrowly avoided relegation last season, can now look forward to a title party at their King Power Stadium home when Everton visit on Saturday.
They are England’s first new title-winners since Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest 1978 and their surge to glory in the world’s most-watched football championship will go down as one of the most improbable feats in sporting history.
LAST PIECE OF SILVERWARE
Their previous best season in the English top flight was a second-place finish in 1929 and their last piece of silverware had been the 2000 League Cup.
Mauricio Pochettino’s young Spurs team needed to win all three of their final games to stand any chance of claiming a first league title since 1961, but having been held 1-1 by West Bromwich Albion on their previous outing, they failed to close out victory again.
Ranieri had never previously won a league title and was sacked by Chelsea in 2004, but chants of “There’s only one Ranieri!” rang around the game as the final whistle approached.
Bringing the story of his association with the Premier League full circle, the 64-year-old Italian will return to Stamford Bridge for his miracle team’s final game of the season on May 15.
Hazard, last season’s Player of the Year, had scored the goal that brought Chelsea the title a year previously and after a dismal campaign, he resurfaced to write another chapter in English football history.
Spurs, meanwhile, could face disciplinary action from the Football Association after midfielder Mousa Dembele appeared to eye-gouge Diego Costa in one of several fractious incidents.