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Ranieri hails Schmeichel heroics as Foxes made to wait

FC Copenhagen 0 Leicester City 0

By Mark Ogden

Published 03/11/2016

Test: Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater battles with Thomas Delaney
Test: Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater battles with Thomas Delaney

Claudio Ranieri praised Kasper Schmeichel for securing a Champions League point for Leicester City on a "horrible" pitch against FC Copenhagen in Denmark.

Copenhagen-born Schmeichel denied the Danish champions a late victory in the Parken Stadium with a dramatic 90th-minute save to keep out Andreas Cornelius' close-range header.

The point leaves the Premier League kings needing just one more draw from two remaining Group G games against Club Brugge and FC Porto to ensure qualification for the knockout stages.

And Ranieri admitted that Schmeichel's contribution was crucial as the Foxes became the first Champions League debutants to keep clean sheets in their first four games in the competition.

"Kasper made a very good save at the end, the only shot, because the rest were from distance," Ranieri said. "He had one shot to save, but it was a very important save.

"Kasper is fantastic. I have coached a lot of champions and I don't want to say who is the best, but he is a good one and he is having a very good season.

"Copenhagen put us under pressure all match, but of course Kasper is a good keeper and he was ready to save us.

"This is my second year here and he always puts in a good performance. I'm very happy with him."

With Copenhagen unbeaten at home since losing to Jablonec in a Europa League qualifier in August 2015 - the Danes have only ever lost one home group game in the Champions League - Leicester's challenge to win a fourth successive match in the competition was always going to be a tall order.

But their task was made more difficult by the surface at the Parken, which was only re-laid recently following a Justin Bieber concert in early October.

"The pitch was horrible, for us and for them," Ranieri said. "We slipped a lot and it was very dangerous, but fortunately all my players are okay and nobody is injured.

"We trained on it on Tuesday and I said to the players, 'Be careful, choose the right shoes because you can slip'. Two or three times, it was very dangerous for us, but only in the sense of mistakes being made.

"The pitch was soft and not really flat, but we showed good character and good personality and I am satisfied - clean sheet, one point, it's okay."

With Leicester failing to claim the victory that would have assured them of top spot in Group G, Ranieri insists that the focus must now shift to regaining momentum with a win at home to Brugge in three weeks' time.

"Now our mind is about Brugge," Ranieri said. "Porto are three points behind us and there is a big challenge between them and Copenhagen.

"Brugge are down, but they want to do something, so it is not easy. But we want to get three points so we can go to Porto at the top of the group."

Copenhagen: Olsen, Ankersen, Jorgensen, Johansson, Augustinsson, Verbic (Kusk, 83 mins), Kvist, Delaney, Falk (Toutouh, 65 mins), Santander, Cornelius. Unused subs: Andersen, Hogli, Antonsson, Gregus, Pavlovic.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Hernandez, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Mahrez, Amartey, Drinkwater, Schlupp (Okazaki, 71 mins), Vardy, Musa. Unused subs: Zieler, King, Albrighton, Simpson, Gray, Ulloa.

Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)

Man of the match: Kasper Schmeichel

Match rating: 5/10

Belfast Telegraph

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