Everton suffered a cruel penalty shootout Carabao Cup exit after Leighton Baines’s blistering 25-yard 90th-minute strike – his first goal for more than two years – kept alive the Blues' semi-final hopes in the most dramatic fashion.
Left-back Baines, who last completed 90 minutes on 5 January this year, advanced unchecked to thrash an effort which swerved to Kasper Schmeichel’s right and high into the net.
Jamie Vardy hit the winning spot-kick after Jordan Pickford had saved Leicester’s first effort from James Maddison. Kasper Schmeichel denied Cenk Tosun and Baines and although Mason Hogate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin converted Vardy’s side-footer settled the tie.
Everton’s fightback from two goals down at half-time was launched by Tom Davies with 20 minutes to play.
Davies’s second goal of the campaign – and first at Goodison Park since May 2018 – was a technically polished effort. The cross was supplied from the right by Richarlison, fed by Seamus Coleman.
Midfielder Davies met the delivery with a controlled, sweeping volley inside Schmeichel’s right post.
Calvert-Lewin headed over as Everton got their second wind and the Blues screamed for a penalty with two minutes remaining when Coleman went down in the area after a challenge from Vardy.
Leicester opened up their advantage courtesy of strikes inside three minutes from Maddison and Jonny Evans.
Everton started brightly and Calvert-Lewin had already flashed a volley wide from Bernard’s left-wing corner when Schmeichel’s scuffed kick landed his team in trouble.
The ball spun skyward off a startled Alex Iwobi, which in turn seemed to catch Evans by surprise. His backwards header was never going to reach Schmeichel and allowed Richarlison to intercept.
The Brazilian had to lunge to get his toe on the ball, however, and ran out of room at the byline after his poked first touch.
Calvert-Lewin chasing down Wes Morgan whipped up Goodison, with a similarly meaningful challenge from Holgate on Vardy drawing another giant roar.
The nature of Everton’s work, though, - and Yerry Mina did well to pinch the ball off Ayoze Perez’s toes in a dangerous position – reflected the pattern of the game at this stage.
Leicester were seeing more of the ball, the home team struggling to locate the urgency and thrust to disrupt opponents who boast the Premier League’s best defensive record this season.
Indeed, the visitors had struck their double blow before Schmeichel was called into action.
The Leicester goalkeeper dived to his right to hold Mina’s header from Bernard’s floated free-kick on 36 minutes.
Sixty seconds later Richarlison dug out a shot under pressure from Dennis Praet but sent his effort beyond the far post.
Leicester’s opening goal was the product of excellent work from right-back Ricardo Pereira.
The Portuguese had already sent in one low cross which was swatted over by Perez, aiming to lift his strike over the grounded Davies.
But when Davies’s interception on a forward ball ran favourable for Pereira he made maximum gains.
Pereira fed his delivery square to Maddison, who gathered with his left foot before depositing his finish in the bottom corner with a flick of the outside of his right boot.
One quickly became two. Vardy got the touch on Maddison’s left-win corner and Evans arrived at the far post to lift his finish into the net.
Moise Kean came on for Bernard – left writhing when he inadvertently kicked the bottom of Perez’s boot after 20 minutes – and received a fabulous reception.
Schmeichel erred with his kicking again when he directed a pass to Davies three minutes after the restart but Leicester recovered to crowd out Kean as he ran into the box.
Pickford tipped over Perez’s 25 yarder and was alert again to clear with Vardy bearing down on the home keeper.
Calvert-Lewin’s barrelling run from the left – he was switched wide as part of the half-time reshuffle, which also involved Richarlison moving to the right and Iwobi playing behind the main striker – eliminated Wilfried Ndidi and Praet.
Kean collected the subsequent pass and was narrowly of target via a deflection off Ben Chilwell.
Any contact from Mina on Baines’s resultant corner would have diverted the ball into the net.
Leicester and Vardy in particular retained a substantial threat on the counter.
Vardy rarely stands still and he was on the move to nip in front of Coleman to steal possession and feed Marc Albrighton for a curling shot which clattered the woodwork.
Meantime, Pickford saved with his legs from Praet following another Leicester raid and from 30 yards Holgate sent a strike hurrying wide.
Davies’s exquisite volleyed finish reignited the contest and Everton could have been level three minutes later but Calvert-Lewin couldn’t keep his header down following Kean’s jinking run and cross.
Tosun replaced Iwobi for the final 12 minutes and Anthony Gordon followed for a senior Goodison Park debut soon after.
Coleman’s penalty appeals fell on deaf ears.
But fellow full-back Baines wasn’t done, striding forward to thump home and get his name on the scoresheet for the first time since November 2017.
Vardy and Leicester, though, would have the final say.
Lucas Digne has proved an immovable object in Everton’s left-back position since joining, then the Frenchman’s replacement here in Leighton Baines continues look an irresistible force.
Baines’s 25-yard strike right as Goodison Park was being told we were due four minutes’ stoppage time was as thrilling as anything he’s summoned in 414 Everton appearances.
What a luxurious position for Everton, having the ability to summon one first-rate full-back as direct replacement for another.
Baines entered his 36th year with a high-tariff performance as an early substitute for Digne in a fire-and-brimstone game at Manchester United on Sunday.
The following day he featured prominently in a national radio discussion about the Premier League’s finest collection of players over the past decade.
And on his first competitive start since 2 February – or, viewed alternatively, in 319 days – Baines gave us a reminder of why he’s so highly regarded.
His first pass forward, to the feet of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, bore all the hallmarks of Leighton Baines, precise and perfectly weighted.
Baines was alert to nick a ball in front of James Maddison and hungrily snapped at Ayoze Perez to stop the Spaniard turning.
No joy for Perez when he tried to round Baines on a break down Leicester’s right.
More numbers to illustrate what a quiet time of it Baines has had until returning in a fashion which would suggest he’s never been away.
He last completed 90 minutes 347 days ago, in Everton’s FA Cup third round tie with Lincoln City on 5 January.
Prior to this game, he’d had 73 minutes competitive action this term, 65 of them against United and eight in the victory over Chelsea one week earlier.
Baines’s vision and cushioned touch to feed Bernard five minutes before half-time were immaculate.
He sped across on the cover to tackle Ben Chilwell after a bouncing throw-in escaped Yerry Mina.
Everton’s goal at United three days ago came from a Baines corner and he’d have added another assist here if Mina had reached a wicked dead ball from the right.
Baines’s duel success hovered around 80 per cent and he sent over four crosses, more than any other player on the field bar Maddison.
The stat which screams loudest from the page, though, is the one which shows Baines scoring Everton’s equalising goal.