LEICESTER, England — The Foxes thought they had it. Then this dramatic fairytale took a dark turn… then they had it again.
[ VIDEO: Did Moss get it right? ]
Leicester City and West Ham United drew 2-2 at the King Power Stadium on Sunday — Leicester are eight points clear of second-place Tottenham who play on Monday — as a second half filled with drama ensued.
[ MORE: Carroll talks to NBC’s crew ]
Here’s what we learned from a crazy encounter the King Power.
VARDY PARTY CONTINUES… JUST
Jamie Vardy, 29, has been the hero so many times this season for Leicester. On Sunday it seemed like that would once again be the case as he latched onto N'Golo Kante‘s pass in the first half following a breakaway and smashed home to join Harry Kane as the leading goalscorer in the PL.
[ MORE: Vardy to get extra ban? ]
In the first half Vardy was booked for a late but not malicious challenge on Cheikhou Kouyate and then this happened with over 30 minutes to go.
There’s no debate about this. Referee Jon Moss got the call spot on. Look at the video above. Vardy not once, but twice has a look to his right and can see the defender coming. He intentionally drags his legs into the defender and goes down. It was a great decision and Vardy had suddenly turned into the villain. He was applauded off the pitch but Leicester’s supporters will be without him for the game with Swansea City next weekend as the one-game suspension for two yellow cards cannot be appealed. He may also miss more games if it is proven he swore at Moss on his way off the pitch.
Vardy looked as if he would be the ultimate villain as West Ham United scored twice through Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell but then Leonardo Ulloa‘s spot kick got him out of jail. It is hard to criticize Vardy because he’s the main reason Leicester is in this incredible position with four games to go. However, there was no need for him to take a tumble in the box. Had Leicester lost, the Vardy Party would have lost some momentum. After this dramatic finish, it’s still going strong.
DIVINE INTERVENTION AT PLAY
With the first attack of the game West Ham should have been ahead. Then, as it seems to have done for most of this season, divine intervention saved Leicester.
Kouyate’s header from Dimitri Payet‘s free kick flew off him at an awkward angle and looked destined for the top corner. Kasper Schmeichel somehow got a slight fingertip on the ball and it hit the post. The ball then preceded to roll across the line, hit the other post and roll back into Schmeichel’s arms. For a moment the King Power stood silent. What had we all just witnessed?
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Those saying luck has been on Leicester’s side this season are scoffed at. Yet along with the sensational consistency of their players, Claudio Ranieri‘s experience and the faltering of the perennial title challengers, luck has played a big part in this run.
In the last three games alone you can point to pivotal moments going in their favor and lady luck seeming to shine down on the Foxes as they look to seal one of the greatest stories in sporting history. Against Southampton a few handball decisions in the box went their way and against Sunderland Jack Rodwell somehow skied an effort at a pivotal moment.
Then, just when it looked like they would lose for just the second time at home this season to throw a spanner in the works of their title hopes — with Spurs potentially going just four points behind them with four games to go — Moss awarded them a penalty for Carroll’s nudge on Jeffrey Schlupp. Ulloa scored the spot kick to make it 2-2 and the King Power erupted. Suddenly all was not lost for Leicester and lady luck had intervened again.
Greater powers are at work pushing Leicester towards this title. The opening shot of the game and the last action points to as much.
MOSS BUCKLES UNDER PRESSURE
After sending off Vardy and awarding West Ham a penalty kick, Jon Moss was the most hated man not only in the King Power Stadium but of every Leicester fan in the world.
He got Vardy’s red card and West Ham’s penalty decision correct but when it came to the penalty kick for Leicester in stoppage time, he didn’t get it right. It seemed like Moss buckled under the pressure and the ferocious abuse being chucked his way by the home fans. In the process he cost West Ham a crucial three points in their battle to finish in the top four.
Carroll did not need to make the challenge but he looked to have shouldered Schlupp who went down easily. Moss evened things up. Nobody wants to be remembered as the referee who cost Leicester the title and even though Moss was booed by the entire stadium at the final whistle, Leicester’s fans will be thanking him for snatching them back a point to keep them eight points ahead of Spurs who play at Stoke City on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).