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Sunday 4 December 2016

Ranieri unfazed by Leicester performance after win over Norwich

Published 27/02/2016 | 18:21

Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa celebrates after his late winner handed the Foxes a 1-0 victory over Norwich
Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa celebrates after his late winner handed the Foxes a 1-0 victory over Norwich

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri insisted he is only interested in points - not performances - after the Foxes scraped past Norwich.

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Leonardo Ulloa's late strike handed them a barely-deserved 1-0 win to open up a five-point gap at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Norwich had frustrated the Foxes for long spells and looked on course for a priceless point in their fight for survival before Ulloa's 88th-minute winner.

Leicester are clear of second-placed Tottenham, who host Swansea on Sunday, as they hit back from their own last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Arsenal last time out.

Ranieri had pinpointed their next five games - starting against Norwich - as key to their title hopes and said he would happily take substance over style.

He said: "You cannot always play well, it's not important to play well or not, it's important to take points.

"We wanted to re-start. We believe in ourselves, we believe until the end that it's important to fight. We lost a match in the last second against Arsenal and today we won in the last minute. That's football.

"We expected a battle. I want to say well done to Norwich because it was a good battle. The first half we tried to find a solution but it was difficult because Norwich played to maintain the clean sheet.

"With 20 minutes to go it was an open match; we can score, they can score. I tried to make some changes to spread out the defensive line. It was a good choice."

The winner was just Ulloa's third goal of the season as he plays second fiddle to Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, and he came on with 12 minutes left after Ranieri shuffled his pack.

Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were silenced by the gritty Canaries and denied any clear chances with the Foxes well below par.

Norwich are only out of the drop zone on goal difference ahead of Newcastle and came closest in the first half when Cameron Jerome headed wide from six yards.

The Canaries, though, have lost seven of their last eight games in all competitions, but after their efforts boss Alex Neil felt defeat was harsh on his side.

He said: "If Leicester were the better side and deserved the win you take your humble pie, regroup and get ready for the next game. In recent weeks we have been 2-0 up against West Ham, 3-1 on Liverpool and today we had a great opportunity to get a point or maybe three.

"We'll take a lot of heart from the performance. We'll look at the game and know we should have got something better than what we did. We have a big game on Tuesday now (against Chelsea) and if we can fight and scrap, create as many chances as we did today and keep the opposition quiet we'll have a good chance.

"Being 2-0 up at home and drawing 2-2 (against West Ham) that's going to dent the confidence more than coming to the leaders and putting in as good a performance as we did."

Press Association

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