Referee 'farce' as late drama earns Leicester a point
Injury time equaliser from Leonardo Ulloa saves the Foxes after Jamie Vardy sees red against West Ham
Leicester 2 West Ham United 2.
Referee Jon Moss was the centre of attention at the King Power Stadium on Sunday as he awarded two penalties and showed Jamie Vardy a red card on a dramatic afternoon that could have major ramifications for the title race.
In among all the controversy Leicester squandered a 1-0 advantage before scoring a late equaliser to snatch what could be a critical point in the title race. And despite all the action it was the performance of Moss that captured the headlines on Sunday evening.
The game got off to an exciting start when Cheikhou Kouyate's header was brilliantly saved by Foxes' keeper Kaspar Schmeichel and the ball ended up in his arms after hitting both posts. There were also near misses from Dimitri Payet and Michail Antonio.
Then out of nothing, Leicester roared into life, launching a lightning counter-attack from a West Ham corner with Riyad Mahrez picking out N’Golo Kante. He then slipped the ball to Vardy who finished for his 22nd league goal of the season.
Vardy's next significant contribution, however, was to receive a yellow card for a rash challenge on Kouyate, with Moss also carding three Hammers – Winston Reid, Mark Noble and Payet - in the space of 15 minutes before the break.
Twelve minutes into the second half Vardy was shown a second yellow, this one for simulation, although TV replays were inconclusive as to whether he had dived or made faint contact with the West Ham tackler in the penalty area.
Nonetheless it took West Ham nearly half an hour to exploit their numerical advantage and only then because Moss considered Wes Morgan to have wrestled Winston Reid in the Leicester area. There was contact but no more than Angelo Ogbonna inflicted on Leicester's Robert Huth in the penalty area a few minutes earlier, and which went unpunished.
Andy Carroll kept his composure to equalise from the spot and barely two minutes later West Ham were ahead. For once Moss had no influence on events, the referee just an onlooker as Antonio's cross into the Leicester area was cleared only as far as Aaron Cresswell, who from 20 yards volleyed the ball past Kasper Schmeichel for what was surely a wonderful winner.
Some Leicester fans wept as the clock ticked into injury time, others sardonically sang "2-1 to the referee", but there was still one final act in the drama. In an afternoon of dodgy decisions, Moss saved his worst for last, adjudging Carroll to have felled substitute Jeffrey Schlupp just inside the area. There was pandemonium on the pitch as players protested but Leonardo Ulloa rose above the furore to fire the ball past Adrian with the last kick of a match that stretches Leicester's lead over Spurs to eight points.
It was Leicester's 11th penalty of the season, the most in the Premier League, and Carroll was not alone in believing it should never have been given. "A couple of decisions were not the greatest and got them a draw," he reflected. "I am surprised he didn't give our penalty earlier and at the end I feel like he has tried to equal it out. I think that is what he was going for, he [Schlupp] ran straight into me."
Claudio Ranieri's immediate reaction was to tell television reporters that "I judge my players not the referee, the referee is not my matter." But as the Guardian reported, the "lingering image of this match might be the sight of... Moss, being escorted off the pitch at the end by what appeared to be a bodyguard and pursued by a television cameraman."