FORMER Leeds Unitd goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel denied Middlesbrough a point as Leicester City went second in the table with victory over one of their promotion rivals.
Leading through David Nugent’s 70th-minute strike, Foxes substitute Jamie Vardy untidily brought Boro captain Rhys Williams down in the area, but Schmeichel plunged to his left to superbly thwart Marvin Emnes.
Leicester enjoyed the better of an open first half as Anthony Knockaert and Michael Keane both struck the crossbar in front of a sparse King Power Stadium crowd, with many apparently persuaded to watch the televised clash from home on a snow-swept evening.
The adverse weather conditions delayed Middlesbrough’s arrival, and the kick-off by 15 minutes, but Tony Mowbray’s men also had their moments as an attacking force, with Schmeichel forced to deny Scott McDonald and Andre Bikey in quick succession.
Emmanuel Ledesma, booked for diving in the 20th minute, should have put Boro ahead after the break before in-form Foxes striker Chris Wood hit a post.
Nugent was twice denied by the offside flag but, in between those efforts, he finished superbly on the half-volley to put Leicester ultimately three points ahead of Boro in fifth.
Leicester sit seven points behind Cardiff ahead of the leaders’ trip to Blackpool this evening.
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson named an unchanged XI from the one that dispatched struggling Bristol City last weekend, while Justin Hoyte and Bikey replaced Nicky Bailey and Lukas Jutkiewicz following Middlesbrough’s defeat to Watford
Boro’s top scorer McDonald fired a snap-shot over in the seventh minute after George Friend’s cross was partially cleared by home centre-back Keane and Leicester went on to enjoy a period in the ascendancy.
Leicester should have paid for their first-half profligacy eight minutes into the second period, but Ledesma’s dinked finish dropped wide after a cute, flicked pass from Middlesbrough’s Chelsea loanee Josh McEachran sent him clear.
The hosts responded by striking the woodwork for a third time, Wood planting a powerful header against an upright.
Nugent did manage to beat Steele in the 63rd minute, but was adjudged to be marginally offside when he stroked home Ritchie De Laet’s pass.
There was no debate when the once-capped England striker clinically swept a half-volley into the far corner after Wood dinked the ball into his path.
Substitutes Lloyd Dyer and Vardy might have added a degree of comfort for Leicester, before the latter was left to thank Schmeichel for sparing his blushes.