Marc Albrighton: Shinji Okazaki has been terrific for Leicester
Published 15/03/2016 | 04:36
Marc Albrighton hailed Shinji Okazaki's predatory instincts in the wake of Leicester's vital win over Newcastle.
The Japan striker scored a brilliant overhead kick to earn the Foxes a 1-0 victory over Newcastle that restored their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
It was a significant statement from Claudio Ranieri's men after Tottenham won at Aston Villa on Sunday to close the gap, with Okazaki the difference.
The 29-year-old has been one of a number of impressive support stars to leading marksman Jamie Vardy and winger Albrighton was full of praise for the former Mainz man.
He told Leicester's official website: "He's always there in the penalty or six-yard box. He's scored a couple of scrappy goals this season but that was definitely up there with one of the best this season.
"The skill and technique involved in his finish was superb so credit to him. He's been terrific for us this season and the goals are coming with it."
It was far from a stellar performance from Ranieri's side - certainly not one in the manner they have become accustomed with playing this season, but as the end of the campaign comes onto the horizon, the points were the most important thing.
"It was quite a scrappy game and it wasn't the best that we've played this season," Albrighton added. "I thought Newcastle gave a good account of themselves - they stuck in the game.
"They made it difficult for us but at this stage of the season the most important thing about a football match is the result and we managed to get all three points today which was crucial.
"One-nil is always a difficult scoreline because the other team always feels like they've got the chance to get back in it. One chance or bit of luck can put you on level terms and it could swing their way.
"It's not a nice scoreline but we dug in and I thought our game management towards the end was superb."
Defeat for Newcastle meant a losing start for new boss Rafael Benitez but, after limited preparation, he will be better judged after Sunday's clash with fellow strugglers Sunderland.
The Spaniard can count on the services of forward Siem de Jong for that after he came on against Leicester to complete a recovery from an eye injury.
"The eye is fine. It's taken a while to fully heal and it was quite a nasty injury, and it needed treatment in the hospital. It was quite a shock when it happened and I was quite scared about seeing normally again, but it's all gone back to normal so that's a good thing," De Jong told United's official website.
"You always want to win or at least draw a game, and you're always disappointed afterwards when you get nothing. We need to get the positives in and the negatives out, and we need to improve this week.
"We only had three days to train with the new manager, so hopefully a few more days we can improve a little more and it's an important game coming up next week."