By Marc Isaacs
LONDON (Reuters) – Leicester City players and fans paid a fond tribute to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on Saturday before the team were held to a 0-0 draw in the Premier League by Burnley in their first home game since the club owner’s death in a helicopter crash.
While it was naturally a day of high emotion at the King Power Stadium, elsewhere in England’s top-flight there were big wins for struggling Cardiff City, who beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1, and Newcastle United, 2-1 winners over Bournemouth.
Leicester supporters and squad members, including injured England defender Harry Maguire, led a march from the city centre to the stadium where hundreds of Leicester shirts, flags and banners were laid around the pitch.
Vichai’s son Aiyawatt and former Leicester managers Claudio Ranieri and Nigel Pearson were among the crowd, who observed a two-minute silence before kick off.
After the match, Leicester midfielder Marc Albrighton explained how it had been one of the most difficult games of his career.
“This week has been hard. We went to Thailand and paid our respects to Vichai and his family,” Albrighton said.
“It is something we felt we wanted to do. It is a tough time for everyone but everyone has done their part. Every single person at this club has stuck together.”
“It’s extraordinary the way the fans have come together. Leicester fans have been brilliant for us and we need them. It’s going to be a tough road. The lads are emotionally drained.
“Today was one of the hardest games I have ever played. It’s hard to focus.”
Leicester manager Claude Puel was proud of his players and praised their professionalism in handling the occasion.
“We were unlucky but I was proud of the players’ performance because they gave their best in this situation,” said Puel.
Cardiff celebrated only their second league win of the season as Sol Bamba netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner to seal their win over 10-man Brighton.
Lewis Dunk fired Brighton ahead but Callum Paterson brought the home side level before Cardiff made the most of Dale Stephens’ first-half sending off.
Bamba’s goal made it an anniversary to remember for manager Neil Warnock in his 100th game in charge.
“I didn’t even realise it was my 100th game until yesterday. Then, it will be about my 70th birthday (at the start of December),” Warnock said. “But I don’t feel it and I feel really proud to be manager of this group.”
While Cardiff are still 18th on eight points, Newcastle recorded consecutive league wins for the first time since April, as Salomon Rondon scored a brace in their win to move out of the bottom three on to nine points.
Jefferson Lerma netted a goal back on the stroke of half-time but Eddie Howe’s sixth-placed side failed to find an equaliser and suffered a major injury blow when Adam Smith was carried off with suspected knee ligament damage.
Southampton striker Charlie Austin was left fuming with officials after they disallowed what he felt was a clear goal during the 1-1 draw with Watford which left the Saints still struggling on eight points.
Referee Simon Hooper believed, incorrectly, that the ball had gone in off Saints’ Maya Yoshida, who was offside. Southampton, leading at the time through a Manolo Gabbiadini goal, were then hit by a late Jose Holebas equaliser.
“It’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t be in the game. We scored a perfectly good goal (at 1-0) that was ruled out for offside,” Austin told Sky Sports. “The officials cost us two points.
“People go on about VAR, they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world then give them all the help they need. It is a joke.”
Huddersfield are still one from bottom in 19th place after drawing 1-1 with West Ham, whose Brazilian forward Felipe Anderson cancelled out a first-half goal from Alex Pritchard.
(Editing by Ian Chadband)