Ranieri, Leicester in trouble over stormy scenes

Jamie Vardy (left) being sent off by referee Craig Pawson for a two-footed lunge at Stoke City's Mame Biram Diouf.
Jamie Vardy (left) being sent off by referee Craig Pawson for a two-footed lunge at Stoke City's Mame Biram Diouf.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Manager Claudio Ranieri and Leicester City's players and fans may be in hot water following ill-discipline and off-field crowd behaviour during the 10-man champions' remarkable 2-2 fightback at Stoke City on Saturday.

The normally unflappable Ranieri has rarely ever appeared more enraged as he confronted referee Craig Pawson at the interval following a stormy first half during which Jamie Vardy was sent off and Leicester fell two goals behind.

The Italian, though, was back at his affable best following his team's "fantastic" revival, after Bojan Krkic's 39th-minute penalty and a first-half stoppage-time tap-in by Joe Allen appeared to put Leicester on their way to a ninth league defeat of the campaign.

As they were coming off the pitch at the break, Ranieri and some of his players remonstrated with Pawson and, as the official passed Leicester supporters while accompanied by security, coins appeared to be thrown at him.

The game had reached boiling point after Pawson dismissed Vardy contentiously for a two-footed lunge that had not connected with Stoke's Mame Biram Diouf.

NOTHING WRONG

We must respect the referee every time. I said nothing to him at half-time. I just wanted to show to our fans, to my players, that I was there. There was nothing wrong.

CLAUDIO RANIERI, Leicester manager, on the referee's inconsistent decisions.

In midweek, Pawson had a similar call to make over a challenge from Manchester United's Marcos Rojo at Crystal Palace and only gave him a yellow card.

Former elite referee Howard Webb added to the controversy by saying that, following the Rojo incident, Pawson should not be allowed to officiate the forthcoming Liverpool-Manchester City clash.

Of the apparent inconsistency, Ranieri shrugged: "I don't want to speak about this, every match is different. We must respect the referee every time. I said nothing to him at half-time. I just wanted to show to our fans, to my players, that I was there. There was nothing wrong."

Stoke manager Mark Hughes backed Pawson's call.

"I've seen the incident and it looked to me like he had two straight legs, he was off the ground and out of control," Hughes said.

"I can understand, there have been a couple of incidents where players have done similar and got away with a yellow card. They were deemed to be wrong, so this time the referee got it right."

The sending-off set the tone for five yellow cards to be shown to Leicester players in seven minutes before the break and, with a sixth brandished soon after half-time, Leicester are in line for a Foootball Association fine.

Of the objects thrown on to the pitch, Ranieri said: "I didn't see them. Of course I would be disappointed (if they did)."

The Italian had to be restrained by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel as he tried to get his vigorous point across to Pawson.

"I was angry because I saw my players were fighting a lot," said Ranieri. "At half-time we spoke a lot and continued to believe something good could be possible."

In the final 15 minutes, goals from substitute Leonardo Ulloa and Daniel Amartey earned Leicester only their second away point all season.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2016, with the headline 'Ranieri, Leicester in trouble over stormy scenes'. Print Edition | Subscribe