Vardy off but Le­ices­ter rally to hold Stoke

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

STOKE-ON-TRENT: Claudio Ranieri lost Jamie Vardy and his own com­po­sure, but saw 10-man Le­ices­ter City dis­play the spirit of cham­pi­ons in a 2-2 draw at Stoke City yes­ter­day. Daniel Amartey com­pleted the come­back in the 88th minute as he rose be­tween two de­fend­ers to head home a Chris­tian Fuchs cross and earn Le­ices­ter a cru­cial point af­ter they had played for 62 min­utes with­out Vardy. Ref­eree Craig Paw­son, widely crit­i­cised for his fail­ure to send off Manch­ester United’s Mar­cos Rojo at Crys­tal Palace in mid-week, dis­missed Vardy for a sim­i­lar two-footed chal­lenge.

He also showed Le­ices­ter five yel­low cards in the fi­nal seven min­utes of the first half, lead­ing to tem­pes­tu­ous scenes at the in­ter­val. Vardy was dis­missed, for the third time in his ca­reer, on 28 min­utes af­ter launch­ing him­self into a chal­lenge on Mame Bi­ram Diouf with his studs show­ing. It was a con­tentious de­ci­sion and led to a Le­ices­ter melt­down, plus two goals for the home team.

Danny Simp­son was booked af­ter con­ced­ing a penalty for hand­ball, from which Bo­jan Kr­kic gave Stoke a 39th-minute lead.

Four Le­ices­ter play­ers fol­lowed Simp­son into the book in the fi­nal seven min­utes of the half: Is­lam Sli­mani, Andy King, Fuchs and Marc Al­brighton. Af­ter Paw­son blew the half-time whis­tle nu­mer­ous vis­it­ing play­ers, and Ranieri, ap­proached the of­fi­cial, who was sur­rounded by se­cu­rity per­son­nel. Ranieri, the vet­eran Le­ices­ter man­ager, had to be hauled away by his play­ers, while City coach Mike Stow­ell re­strained Sli­mani, who was lead­ing the play­ers’ protests.

It was a scene that could yet lead to dis­ci­plinary ac­tion by the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion. In ad­di­tion, fu­ri­ous Le­ices­ter sup­port­ers, gath­ered in the cor­ner of the ground where the tun­nel is sit­u­ated, had to be held back by stew­ards as Paw­son headed into the dress­ing room.

It ap­peared that ob­jects were also thrown in the of­fi­cials’ di­rec­tion. On the field, the open­ing goal fol­lowed 11 min­utes af­ter Vardy’s dis­missal when Simp­son slid in to try and in­ter­cept Bo­jan’s cross from the left-hand by­line and han­dled.

TECH­NOL­OGY THWARTS SHAWCROSS

The Spa­niard took the re­sult­ing penalty him­self and slot­ted the ball low into the bot­tom-left cor­ner of Kasper Sch­me­ichel’s goal. Stoke dou­bled their lead in in­jury time when Gian­nelli Im­bula re­ceived a short free-kick and drove a pow­er­ful shot against the post and off Sch­me­ichel, al­low­ing Joe Allen to tap into an open goal.

Ear­lier, Sch­me­ichel had dived sharply to the foot of his post to keep out Jonathan Wal­ters’s low shot af­ter just five min­utes. But Le­ices­ter, with Vardy look­ing sharp on the counter-at­tack, looked just as likely to open the scor­ing.

The Eng­land for­ward volleyed wide from Al­brighton’s long ball, then started a coun­ter­at­tack that al­lowed Riyad Mahrez a run at goal from which he tested Lee Grant with a driven shot. King’s cross was then met by Robert Huth, whose pow­er­ful header was tipped over the cross­bar by Grant.

Sli­mani beat Ryan Shawcross to King’s long pass on 23 min­utes, tak­ing the ball in his stride and forc­ing Grant into another solid piece of goal­keep­ing. A mis­take by Erik Pi­eters gifted Le­ices­ter the ball in his own half and al­lowed Mahrez another shot at Grant. Huth was cau­tioned, along with Stoke’s Glen John­son, early in the sec­ond half, be­com­ing the visi­tors’ sixth book­ing in nine min­utes ei­ther side of the in­ter­val. The game might have been put com­pletely be­yond their reach just be­fore the hour when Diouf’s deep cross found Wal­ters, whose goal­bound header was well saved by Sch­me­ichel.

Le­ices­ter, to their credit, halted their de­cline and ill-dis­ci­pline as they sought a way back into the con­test.

In the 74th minute, sub­sti­tutes De­marai Gray and Leonardo Ul­loa com­bined to give Ranieri hope when their re­spec­tive first touches led to a goal. Gray crossed from the left and Ul­loa rose im­pres­sively to head goal­wards. Shawcross cleared, but the goal-line tech­nol­ogy con­firm­ing the ball had crossed the line.

— AP

STOKE: Le­ices­ter City’s Riyad Mahrez, right, makes an at­tempt on goal past Stoke City’s Erik Pi­eters dur­ing their English Premier League soc­cer match at the Bet365 Sta­dium, Stoke, Eng­land, yes­ter­day.

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