LEICESTER: Leicester City eked out a critical win against struggling Norwich City with a very late winner from substitute Leonardo Ulloa that opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League yesterday. Following their crushing stoppage time defeat at Arsenal last time out, the Foxes had, according to manager Claudio Ranieri, been “ready for the fight” but for most of the match seemed curiously becalmed as Norwich enjoyed the best openings.
Yet Ulloa’s 89th-minute winner, following one of Leicester’s flattest performances of their surreal season, demonstrated to him that his side has the patient, determined make-up of champions. “The conclusion I have drawn from this is that my players believe until the end,” a delighted Ranieri told the BBC. “That, for me, is very important. If the other teams start to win, they can win all the matches. But for us, the next match is always the final match. That is our mentality.”
Ranieri reckoned he had been particularly worried about this match with his players having had two weeks since the deflation of their Arsenal loss to reflect on what might have been. “I was so worried about this match, because after two weeks, your players can lose their tempo, but now I am very relaxed, and now I start to think about the West Brom match (on Tuesday). It is a derby and a very, very, very tough match.”
Cameron Jerome had squandered the outstanding chance of the game for the Canaries just before halftime, glancing a header wide, but though they labored unimaginatively through much of the second half, Leicester sent the King Power Stadium wild in the dying seconds. For once, it was not Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez who delivered the goods but unsung Argentine striker Ulloa, who was brought on in the 77th minute as Ranieri’s final gamble to take the points. It proved an inspired change, with the 29-year-old sliding in at the back post to latch on to Marc Albrighton’s cross and earn the result which leaves Norwich, who were worth at least a point, still in peril just above the relegation zone.- Reuters