Ranieri refuses to condemn ref after Vardy sees red

 17 Apr 2016 - 18:15

Ranieri refuses to condemn ref after Vardy sees red
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (2-L) is comforted by Leicester's manager Claudio Ranieri (C) after being sent off during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium in Leicester, Britain, 17 April 2016. EPA/TIM KEETON 

Leicester, United Kingdom: Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri refused to condemn Jonathan Moss after the referee sent off Jamie Vardy for diving and gave West Ham a controversial penalty in a potentially damaging 2-2 draw for the Premier League leaders on Sunday.

Moss dismissed England forward Vardy when he threw himself to the turf in search of a second half penalty and compounded Leicester's frustration by awarding a late spot-kick for Wes Morgan's shove on Winston Reid.

Carroll converted that penalty and Aaron Cresswell then struck with four minutes left to put West Ham ahead at the King Power Stadium.

But Moss had one more contribution in the final seconds when he decided Carroll's soft tackle on Jeffrey Schlupp was worthy of another penalty and Leonardo Ulloa smashed home the equaliser with virtually the last kick.

Although Moss was booed off, Ranieri opted against criticising the official and instead saluted his title-chasing players for persevering to salvage a draw that leaves them eight points clear at the top.

"The sending off changed our match," Ranieri said.

"But I judge my players not the referee, the referee is not my matter.

"Our performance was fantastic, this is our soul, we play every match with this, blood, heart and soul, it was magnificent. This point is very important psychologically."

Second placed Tottenham can close the gap on Leicester to five points if they win at Stoke on Monday and Vardy's suspension for next weekend's clash with Swansea will add to the pressure on the leaders.

But Foxes right-back Danny Simpson agreed with Ranieri that the battling nature of Leicester's display after Vardy's 56th minute dismissal and then the shock of conceding two late goals showed their character and spirit won't be broken by the title race pressure.

"We have shown today our team spirit and togetherness," Simpson said.

"We will always fight to the death. We cannot control other things, we can fight and work hard.

"Jeff Schlupp did well to get a penalty and Leonardo Ulloa slotted it away when there was a lot of pressure on him.

"I think that will turn out to be a massive point, not many teams go 2-1 down and do what we did.

"Psychologically it will give us a massive boost."