Leonardo Ulloa’s injury-time penalty rescued a point for Leicester in a controversial encounter with West Ham as the Foxes went eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Jamie Vardy’s crisp finish from a lightning break gave Leicester the lead on 18 minutes – but he was then sent off after getting a second yellow card for diving when he tangled with Angelo Ogbonna early in the second half.
Referee Jon Moss made himself even more unpopular when he awarded West Ham a penalty with six minutes left. There had been pushing and pulling in both penalty areas but he decided to punish Wes Morgan for pulling back Winston Reid at a corner.
Substitute Andy Carroll slotted home the penalty and Aaron Cresswell looked to have opened the door to Leicester’s title rivals Spurs with a stunning left-footed finish two minutes later.
As the game went into injury time, Moss produced another controversial decision when he pointed to the spot once more after Carroll made the merest contact with Jeff Schlupp.
West Ham clearly felt Moss had evened things up after earlier decisions in their favour, but Ulloa was not concerned as he took the chance to secure what might yet be a vital point – although Leicester will be without Vardy for next weekend’s home game with Swansea.
How precious is Leicester’s point?
Leicester’s fans celebrated at the end before turning their anger on referee Moss – although it was his very questionable decision that allowed them to earn that point at the end.
Psychologically, this point could be vital because a loss might just have produced a few doubts and given Spurs just a little more wiggle room going into their game at Stoke on Monday.
It means Leicester’s last Premier League defeat is still that last-minute loss at Arsenal on Valentine’s Day and their spirits will be lifted by the manner in which they earned a point when it seemed certain they would end up empty-handed.
Referee Moss highlights inconsistencies
Referee Moss was surrounded by players of both sides and escorted from the field by stewards to jeering from the home fans at the final whistle.
Moss’s eventful second half began after 56 minutes when he penalised Vardy for simulation as he tumbled theatrically under a challenge from Ogbonna. Having already given Vardy a yellow card, he felt obliged to give a second.
Vardy made the most of the contact and ran the risk of punishment. And he has been accused of doing this before this season. Opinion was split but plenty felt Moss was right.
For West Ham’s penalty, there was undoubtedly pulling and pushing between Morgan and Winston Reid – so again Moss had justification.
The difficulty, the inconsistency, is that similar behaviour had been going on in both penalty areas all afternoon without punishment – so why did Moss decide this was the time to penalise it?
Too often, these decisions seem arbitrary, as was demonstrated when Ogbonna dragged Huth to the floor even more unceremoniously a few minutes later and no foul was given.
Finally, in injury time and with an atmosphere of chaos engulfing the game, Moss pointed to the spot for the slightest touch from Carroll on Schlupp. It was incredibly harsh and the Hammers clearly felt Moss had punished them to make up for earlier decisions given against Leicester.
It is a tough job – as the abuse directed the referee’s way at the end proved.
Chance for Spurs?
Not as much as there might have been had Ulloa not scored at the end, but they can apply pressure and move to within five points of Leicester if they win at Stoke.
Leicester at least have the point in the bag but Mauricio Pochettino and his players will just feel the door is ajar, even if they know time and games are running out.
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri: “It was a very tough match. We were lucky at the beginning when they touched both posts. After that we scored a great goal and we had an opportunity to finish the match at the beginning of the second half.
“After then sending off it changed our match.
“I never spoke about the decision of the referee. Two yellow cards, that’s it.
“Our performance 11 v 11 and 10 v 11 was fantastic.”
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic: “It was a good game of football. We showed determination, character and quality. We turned the game around. We were dangerous, and after sending off we totally dominated the game.
“It was extremely hard for referee, but I mean that was no penalty at all.”
Man of the match – N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
The facts you need to know
- Leicester have won (11) and scored (9) more penalties than any other Premier League team this season.
- Leicester scored with both of their shots on target.
- West Ham were awarded their first Premier League penalty on the road since October 2010.
- Vardy is only the second Leicester player to score and be sent off in the same league game (David Lowe v Wimbledon in 1994 is the other).
- Vardy has scored the opening goal in 11 Premier League games this season – more than any other player.
- Vardy has had a hand in more Premier League goals this season than any other player (22 goals, 6 assists).
Leicester – minus the suspended Vardy – are at home to Swansea next Sunday. The Hammers host Watford on Wednesday.
- Home TeamLeicesterAway TeamWest Ham
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