Thursday 22 March 2018

Leonardo Ulloa says anything is possible after Leicester beat Manchester City

Leicester are starting to believe
Leicester are starting to believe

Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa claims anything is now possible after the unexpected Barclays Premier League leaders sensationally thrashed Manchester City to establish themselves as title favourites.

The Foxes ran out comprehensive 3-1 winners at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to fire out the strongest warning yet that their surprise title challenge is a genuine one.

Leicester - 5,000/1 outsiders at the start of the season - are five points clear at the top with 13 games remaining and now the side most fancied by bookmakers, at odds of 7/4, to take the crown.

It has been a remarkable rise and, with the Etihad win coming just four days after a highly impressive defeat of Liverpool, there seems little sign of them slowing down.

Striker Ulloa said: "After this everything is possible, but we need to fight the same and play with the same mentality, and the same spirit. After that we will wait to see what happens at the end of the season."

The game was billed as the biggest of the season so far, but only Leicester rose to the challenge. Robert Huth bundled in the opener after three minutes and the home side were cut open continually in the first half.

Riyad Mahrez scored a brilliant, and deserved, second goal soon after the break and Huth put the result beyond doubt with a firm header on the hour.

City, with the feel-good factor surrounding Pep Guardiola's summer arrival completely shattered, could muster just one late consolation from Sergio Aguero.

Attitudes to Leicester have now noticeably shifted. No longer are they regarded as underdogs likely to run out of steam, but as serious contenders.

Manager Claudio Ranieri and his players are trying not to think about that, or get carried away by the hype surrounding them, as they gear up for another tough game at Arsenal next week.

Ulloa said: "We are so happy because this was a massive game. Everyone is happy now. We need to enjoy this but on Sunday we start to think about Arsenal.

"We knew these were two difficult games. We want six points and we are now focused on the next game.

"We don't think about the title. We think for the next game, step by step, and at the end of the season we will know what happened."

For quadruple-chasing City this was a rude awakening. Manuel Pellegrini's men have not been entirely convincing this season but they were well placed in second, three points behind the Foxes, before the game.

The quality and depth of their squad is not in doubt and they are well capable of going on a long winning run, but now they are playing catch-up.

Defender Pablo Zabaleta said: "Six points behind now, obviously this was a crucial game to try to get three points and be on top of the league, but there's still a long way to go.

"In this league you cannot give up so early, we need to keep working hard and just try to be back in our best form to win the games.

"We have the Champions League coming up as well so we need to reach again our best form and obviously you need your best playing their best football."

Of prime concern to City as they fight on multiple fronts is their growing injury list. Playmaker David Silva left the action in the second half with an ankle problem, joining Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus Navas, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala on the sidelines.

Zabaleta said: "It's been a very difficult season in terms of injuries and obviously now it's a period with big games coming up.

"I know it's really hard but now all we can do is be focused on the next games. We have another huge game next week against Spurs, so we have a long week now to rest.

"In the last 10 days we've played two more games than Leicester and obviously in the way we are playing at the moment it's hard.

"But we need to accept that we are Manchester City, we aspire to win as many trophies as we can."

Press Association

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