Story by Bayo Psalms
Leicester City manager, Claudio Ranieri has hailed his players’ team spirit after defeating relegation battlers Newcastle United 1-0 at the King Power Stadium on Monday night.
Shinji Okazaki found the back of the net in the 25th minute of the game with an overhead kick to move the Foxes closer to an unprecedented English Premier League title. The Leaders extend their gap over Tottenham Hotspur to five points.
An improved Newcastle side went close to upsetting Ranieri’s boys twice in the game in Rafa Benitez’s first match in charge after the sacking of Steve McLaren on Friday.
“When you change a manager, players want to show their attitude, and plus, the Newcastle players are very good,” Ranieri said at the post match interview.
“I am sure at the end they will be safe [from relegation].
“For this reason, I was waiting for a difficult match and it wasn’t one of our best performances but we showed our fantastic spirit.
“In the first half, we conceded too many dangerous actions and in the second half, we were a little more concentrated and won the first and second balls. In the first half, we lost so many balls.
“It was important somebody scored the goal and then we defended very well. In this moment, it is important for us to play and to fight.”
The former Chelsea boss was asked if nervous in the second half when the Magpies where insistent on equalizing he maintained that Leicester had a better second half performance.
“It wasn’t a nervous second half, it was maybe much better in the second half because the team was so close and so compact,” he added.
“In the first half, they came too many times through the middle and had some good actions.
“Not always did we play well. We played well for example against Aston Villa and West Bromwich but we drew those matches 1-1 and 2-2.
“Now we play not so good as those games but we won. That is important – three points. There are eight matches to go and we continue. Our fans are dreaming and are proud of us. That’s important for us and we’ll carry on.”
The Italian predicts a tough game in his next Premier League match against Crystal Palace at the Selhurst Park on Saturday.
“I feel I am very concentrated on the next match against Crystal Palace, and it will be another tough match,” he continued.
“Our concentration is important, we are so strong and we think about only one match. Step by step, that is our philosophy.”