Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri criticised referee Martin Atkinson for sending off Danny Simpson in Sunday’s last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.
The Premier League leaders were in front after Jamie Vardy’s penalty, but saw Simpson sent off for two bookings in the space of five minutes early in the second half following fouls on Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud.
That allowed Arsenal to recover and record a dramatic victory thanks to goals from substitutes Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, with the winner coming in the fifth minute of added time.
But Ranieri was adamant Leicester would have won the match if Simpson had not been removed and felt the decision was harsh.
“I don’t know if in a normal match that our two yellows cards were a sending off,” he told Sky Sports.
“I don’t know because they were two normal fouls, but not two yellow cards. I think the referee was too severe against us for the sending off.
“I am sure that at 11 v 11, we win the match. Yes of course [Simpson should not make the challenge], but look, the match was full of fouls and then why send off a player? Come on.
“I said well done to my team, they put in a fantastic performance like I want and we lost the match in the last second.
“For me it wasn’t a sending off for Simpson, but we will carry on like we have for so long and now we have to think about Norwich City.”
The defeat is a major blow to Leicester’s hopes of winning a shock Premier League title, but Ranieri insists his players are ready for battle.
He added: “We want to fight match after match. We know the matches are hard. Now there are so many teams who want to win the league like Arsenal or want to avoid being relegated. Every match is different and tough.
“It was a fantastic match, very fast. We know Arsenal are a fantastic team, they move the ball very quickly and are full of skill, but we had to concentrate.
“We tried to counter-attack, have a fast transition and we controlled the match very well. They scored with the last chance – they were smarter than us and that is football.
“We showed a good performance, it is our third defeat in the Premier League. It is good, we are still top of the table, got two points more – we have to fight, carry on and smile.”
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