Leicester City 2, West Ham United 2
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri insists his team are not worried about the growing threat of Premier League title rivals Tottenham despite dropping points at home to West Ham.
Spurs could cut the gap to five points with four games remaining if they beat Stoke on Monday, yet Ranieri maintained his 10-man team should be happy with a draw salvaged by Leonardo Ulloa’s 95th-minute penalty.
He also defended Jamie Vardy from accusations of diving, after the striker’s 22nd goal of the season was marred by a sending off triggered by what referee Jon Moss deemed to be simulation.
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Moss aggrieved Leicester further by awarding an 84th-minute penalty that Andy Carroll converted, before left-back Aaron Cresswell looked to have snatched all three points for the Hammers.
“Never we are worried,” said Ranieri. “We were worried at the beginning of the season to achieve 40 points. Now we enjoy. I never speak with my players about the gap, blah, blah, blah. Everything is in our hands.
“Never have I spoke or will speak about the referee. He [Vardy] never dives. He’s always good. He’s very fast and at this speed, if you touch even a little then [you may fall]. But it’s OK.
“I always speak with the players about our performance and our performance was good. Also, it was better with 10 v 11. When we conceded the second goal, my players wanted to draw and it was unbelievable.”
Bilic: It wasn't a penalty
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said Moss had been wrong to award Leicester a decisive late spot-kick for Carroll’s challenge on Jeff Schlupp but sympathised with the officials after a turbulent fixture.
“I’m not eagle-eyed, I’m not an ex-referee, I’m not Howard Webb; I’m a football coach and I don’t want to talk about that. On the contrary I would like to say it’s hard for him.
“It’s easy now to say that the refs shouldn’t get influenced by the fans. On paper it is easy to say that. Actually it’s real life. Of course it’s not a penalty.”
Hammers midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate’s header forced Kasper Schmeichel to tip onto both posts in a first-minute warning that Leicester were at risk of only their fourth defeat of a fairytale season.
Vardy goes from hero to villain
The Foxes took the lead on 19 minutes, though, breaking swiftly from a West Ham corner through Riyad Mahrez and then N’Golo Kante, who fed Vardy to rifle left-footed across Adrian.
Vardy was inches from adding a second when he arrived fractionally late to meet Shinji Okazaki’s low cross just after half-time, but was soon at the centre of the action for other reasons.
Moss showed Vardy a second yellow card when the former Fleetwood forward ran across Angelo Ogbonna and hit the deck dramatically, and West Ham were soon building momentum.
It took until six minutes from time for them to equalise, however, and it needed another brave call from Moss, who penalised Leicester defender Wes Morgan’s persistent fouling at set-pieces.
Carroll sent Schmeichel the wrong way and moments later Cresswell completed the turnaround with a dipping shot, but Moss would intervene again to hand the hosts a lifeline.