Samir Nasri has branded Jamie Vardy a cheat and accused the Leicester City striker of getting him sent off by playacting during the second half of Sevilla’s Champions League last-16 defeat at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night.
Sevilla were trailing 2-0 and Nasri was on a booking when he squared up to Vardy, who stumbled backwards after the two went forehead to forehead, with the Frenchman later claiming that he made no contact with the England international. “He didn’t say anything but he played it well,” Nasri said.
“We went face to face and then he fell on the floor [in fact he stayed on his feet]. I thought the English player was tougher than that. He was the one who came to my face.”
Both players were shown yellow cards by Daniele Orsato, the Italian referee, resulting in Nasri being dismissed and forcing Sevilla to play the final 15 minutes with 10 men on a night when Leicester won 3-2 on aggregate to secure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Nasri was incensed at the time of his sending-off and took an age to leave the pitch as he tried to confront Vardy, who has strongly denied the allegation that he cheated. Players from both teams intervened to restrain the former Arsenal midfielder, who could face an additional one-match ban from Uefa for his response to the red card.
Nasri, however, pointed the finger of blame at Vardy for the flashpoint. “For me, he is a cheat,” Nasri said. “Because if he was a foreign player, you, the English press, would say he is a cheat. They were winning 2-0; play the game like a man. Win it. You are not better than us but you are winning 2-0, you will qualify [for the quarter-finals], just play the game. You have quality, you are an international player, you don’t need to do that.”
Responding to Nasri’s comments, Vardy said: “I’m not a cheat and I never have been. That’s all I’ve got to say on the matter.” A Leicester spokesman said: “The club refutes entirely any allegation that questions the professional integrity of Jamie or any of its players.”
Tensions were still running high after the final whistle and it is understood that Nasri waited for Vardy in the tunnel. There was no conversation between the two of them but Nasri made it clear that he would like to have told Vardy what he thought about what happened. “I would love to speak to him but, you know, too many cameras, too many security [people], and I have to think about next year and not getting a big suspension,” he said.
Nasri, who is on a season’s loan from Manchester City, did accept that he reacted initially. “I think it was a foul or something. Then he pushed me and I said: ‘What are you doing?’ Then he came in my face. That’s what happened. I did [react] but I didn’t touch him, I didn’t do anything with my head.” Asked whether he thought Vardy dived, Nasri replied: “You don’t think so? Look at the image. Yes he did it, but he did it well. I should have thought about it before and been smarter. If I tell the truth I think you won’t be able to write it.”
Steven Gerrard, who was covering the game as a pundit for BT Sport, described Nasri’s actions as “stupid and amateur for a player of his experience”, mindful of the fact that the 29-year-old was walking a tightrope because of his earlier caution. Nasri did acknowledge that he should have handled things better.
“I was surprised but, like I said, I should have thought about it and not reacted. But come on, man, I am losing, I see the whole thing, coming out of the Champions League, which is a big blow for us. It was just a reaction.”