Leicester City 2:2 West Ham United
Leonardo Ulloa equalised from the spot against West Ham with seconds remaining of a game wrecked by referee Jon Moss at the KPS on Sunday…
On the back of five straight wins Claudio Ranieri named an unchanged starting line-up, but it was the visitors who got off to the better start.
Schmeichel pulled off a fantastic save, tipping Kouyate’s header against the right hand post. The ball went across the face of the goal and looked sure to be converted by Emenike, before it hit the other post and landed safely in the City keeper’s grasp.
After this early warning that West Ham hadn’t come to roll over for the league leaders City began to press forward.
Huth got his head to an Albrighton free-kick, but beat the right hand post by a couple of yards, and then Drinkwater fired an effort from range over the bar.
City then took a 19th minute lead after a sweeping upfield move. From a Schmeichel throw Mahrez sent Kanté on a charge down the middle, and he set up Vardy in on the left for a great first touch and cracking shot past Adrian.
Ten minutes after his goal Vardy was booked for a fair challenge on Kouyate, a decision by referee Jon Moss that would have big repercussions.
In an increasingly tight and physical encounter up to the break, Reid, Noble and Payet were all yellow carded.
Slaven Bilić brought Carroll on for the second half, setting up a Clash of the Titans, with Huth performing magnificently in City’s defence.
From a Payet corner Carroll headed well wide, and then at the other end Huth headed a Fuchs cross over.
Schlupp replaced Albrighton in the 54th minute and City came agonisingly close to extending their lead when a cross/shot from Okazaki evaded Vardy by half a yard at the far post.
The game then dramatically turned on a 58th minute incident.
Vardy and Ogbonna chased a ball into the penalty area, with the West Ham defenders hand on his shoulder Vardy appeared to cut across him and went flying.
Referee Moss judged it to be a dive, worthy of a yellow card and City’s leading scorer was dismissed on the strength of an earlier yellow that shouldn’t have happened.
With the crowd in uproar Ulloa came on for Okazaki and City prepared to dig in and defend the lead.
Reid connected with a Payet cross from the right, but sent his effort into the side-netting. City were defending stoically, but no outlet ball to Vardy was seeing the pressure build. There was a nervy wait after Morgan was booked for fouling Carroll in the perfect spot for a Payet free-kick. After Amartey replaced Mahrez, Payet sent his free-kick sailing into the Family Stand, to general sighs of relief.
But under relentless West Ham pressure City finally cracked with five minutes remaining.
After constant wrestling matches in both areas referee Moss decided to award a soft one for Morgan putting his arms around Reid, no doubt influenced by a deputation of West Ham players urging him to be vigilant before the ball was even delivered.
Carroll sent Schmeichel the wrong way with his spot-kick, the first goal City had conceded since March 1st.
Like buses, the next one arrived two minutes later and this time there were no arguments as Cresswell latched onto a half clearance on the edge of the area and fired a magnificent shot inches under the bar.
City might have forgotten what it was like to go behind in a game, but they reacted well and, combined with another bizarre decision by the ref, managed to rescue a point.
Into time-added-on Huth was wrestled over by Ogbonna in a similar manner to incident that led to Morgan conceding a penalty, but Moss didn’t want to know, leading to prolonged chants of: “2-1, to the referee.”
Minutes later a challenge that looked a lot less like a penalty, as Schlupp and Carroll came together right on the edge of the area, saw Moss pointing to the spot.
With Mahrez and Vardy both absent, Ulloa stepped up to fire his spot-kick past Adrian sparking emotional scenes around the KPS.
Referee Moss was resoundingly booed off as his escort from the pitch had to avoid angry players from both sides, but Claudio Ranieri would not be drawn to comment: “I judge my players and not the referee. The referee watched this, it’s OK. If some players don’t play well or make mistakes, I speak with them and we try to improve their performance. The referee is not my matter.”
After a very tough afternoon City emerged 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League with four games remaining. All eyes will now be on Stoke v Spurs tonight.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Mahrez (Amartey 78), Albrighton (Schlupp 54), Okazaki (Ulloa 59), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, King, Gray.
West Ham: Adrian, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Obiang (Carroll 46), Noble (Lanzini 63), Kouyate, Emenike, Payet, Moses (Valencia 72), Antonio. Subs Not Used: Randolph, Tomkins, Collins, Byram.
Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 32,104.
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