Leicester City 2-2 West Ham United
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Morgan (c), Fuchs; Mahrez, Kanté, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy
West Ham United: Adrian, Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Obiang, Kouyate, Noble (c), Moses, Payet, Emenike
Leicester City, everyone’s favourite rags to riches team, hosted West Ham United today in a crucial tie that is key to the end of the season. The usual Leicester resilience was expected alongside the Hammers strong attacking presence and, fortunately for the viewers, this game had it in droves.
Three minutes marked a heart-in-mouth situation for the blues as Kouyaté placed a seemingly innocuous header into the bottom corner, which rebounded off both posts before Kasper Schmeichel could gather the ball. The vibe was set. The game had begun. The next period of play was full of crunching tackles from both sides, each one becoming more wild and more worthy of yellow cards. Jon Moss, later to become the villain of the game, did start brandishing the warnings and the game did calm a little. Goal number one arrived in the 19th minute from a wonderful attack right from the keeper onwards. It was clinical, it was lightning fast, and it was Jamie Vardy blasting the ball low and perfectly to claim his place back as joint top scorer in the league.
Twenty-two goals does not equate to Premier League invulnerability however.
Vardy became involved in a very contentious ‘did he dive’ situation and rose from the ground to claim a second yellow card rather than a penalty. The stadium erupted in anger; Vardy inexplicably lost his blue arm bandage and Twitter descended into a flurry of deep-sea diving videos from the London supporters and match fixing allegations from the Midlands. Regardless of the outcome of that incident, the main issue of the game was both teams constant need to wrap their arms around player’s throats during any corner or free kick. In an outfield position we would have seen multiple fouls and possible yellow cards, but the grey area that surrounds penalty area jostling meant that many players were thrown to the ground or completely unable to move and Mr. Moss failed to award anything towards any of them.
A seemingly inevitable penalty eventually happened in the 83rd minute, giving West Ham an easy chance to equalise. Andy Carroll was already in fine form this month and had no issue tucking away the goal. King Power became silent. Ranieri cancelled his Domino’s order for the players. Two minutes marked the worst news any blues or casual supporter could hear, Aaron Cresswell struck a beautiful goal that dealt a Hammer blow (sorry) to any chance of a point for the Foxes. Four minutes of extra time were announced and ten men City never looked down and out. With literally two seconds left of the allotted time, Carroll decided to live at the other end of the field and throw players on the floor instead. Leicester City had a penalty. The footballing Gods had struck again. Ulloa, the substitute who’s name is pronounced nothing like it’s written, netted the goal with ease and gave a bizarre but well earned point in his teams second attempt on target in the whole game.
Leicester face Swansea next week and may miss the presence of Jamie Vardy, whereas West Ham host Watford in their hope to reach the Champions League. The Premier League dream boat keeps sailing on, but Tottenham beating Stoke tomorrow can bring them within touching distance of the new heroes of English football.
Follow Jon Dudley on Twitter – @DudleyJon