Saturday 24 August 2019

Leicester face disciplinary action after Stoke draw

Stoke City 2 Leicester City 2

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy is shown a red card by referee Craig Pawson. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy is shown a red card by referee Craig Pawson. Photo: Reuters

Liam Blackburn

This chaotic match will have repercussions, possibly on the football front, definitely in disciplinary terms. Leicester recovered from anger and disarray to salvage a draw that they celebrated like a victory. Two goals down and destabilised by a sense of persecution following the first-half dismissal of Jamie Vardy and the award of a penalty against Danny Simpson, the champions stormed back and equalised with two minutes to go in normal time. The thrilling 4-2 victory over Manchester City the previous weekend did not prove to be a turning point in their Premier League campaign, but maybe this will.

What is certain is that Leicester will face disciplinary proceedings after they were shown six yellow cards in addition to Vardy's red and the most extraordinary sight on a wild afternoon was of Kasper Schmeichel ushering the normally placid Claudio Ranieri away from referee Craig Pawson at half-time. The Italian said later that his representations to Pawson - and his subsequent gestures to the Leicester fans - were intended to defuse tension or at least turn it into positive energy. The authorities will probably invite him to elaborate on that.

Leicester City's Leonardo Ulloa tries to fend off Stoke City's Erik Pieters. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City's Leonardo Ulloa tries to fend off Stoke City's Erik Pieters. Photo: Reuters

Whatever appears on their rap sheet, Leicester's away record remains awful. This was only their second point on their Premier League travels this season but the context could make it worth more to Leicester's players.

Leicester's woe began in the 28th minute when Vardy was sent off for a tackle on Mame Biram Diouf that Pawson deemed to be dangerous. The striker lifted both feet off the ground as he dived for the ball in his own half but he had landed by the time he connected with it. Pawson, who had been criticised in midweek for failing to punish Manchester United's Marcos Rojo for a two-footed lunge at Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, ruled it to have been reckless.

Leicester's rage intensified 11 minutes later when Stoke were given a penalty after a cross by Bojan Krkic hit the outstretched arm of Simpson as the defender, two yards away from the crosser, tried to make a block. Deliberate? No. Careless? Debatable. Krkic capitalised from the spot.

To compound Leicester's grievance, fortune turned against them. Stoke doubled their lead just before half-time when Johnson rolled a free-kick to Giannelli Imbula, whose shot struck the inside of the post, bounced off Schmeichel's back and to the feet of Joe Allen, who stroked the ball into the net.

Leicester City's Andy King challenges Stoke City's Bojan Krkic. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City's Andy King challenges Stoke City's Bojan Krkic. Photo: Reuters

It seemed that the visitors composed themselves at half-time because they emerged with fresh focus. But balancing the scores would be tougher. Schmeichel had to make a fine save to prevent Stoke from going three goals up. Ranieri's next significant intervention was to make a double substitution in the 72nd minute, and the two new arrivals combined to revive hope for the champions. Demarai Gray delivered a cross from the right and Leonardo Ulloa sent a powerful header past Lee Grant.

Two minutes from time Leicester's turnaround was complete, as Christian Fuchs swung a ball into the box and Daniel Amartey powered a header into the net from eight yards. It felt like justice to Leicester.

Observer

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