Claudio Ranieri hails friendly Foxes as Vardy streak continues
Claudio Ranieri emphasised his pride at the spirit among his Leicester side after their 2-1 win over Watford.
That spirit was t ypified by Riyad Mahrez, Leicester's usual penalty taker, inviting his record-chasing team-mate Jamie Vardy to take a decisive spot-kick on Saturday.
Vardy emphatically obliged, blasting his shot straight down the middle to score for the ninth successive Barclays Premier League fixture.
The 28-year-old's 12th goal of the season saw him move to within one game of equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy's run of scoring in 10 straight matches, set in 2003 while at Manchester United.
Ranieri said: "They are all real friends, everybody understands the project.
"It is a very strong group, a friendly group and there is a good spirit in the group.
"When we get the penalty Riyad Mahrez gives Jamie the ball and says, 'come on, score'. It was a lovely moment.
"Jamie wanted to score. It is so good for him to be scoring goals. Van Nistelrooy was a truly fantastic striker and Jamie has everything to reach that quality."
The victory saw Leicester move level on points with Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City ahead of their game at Aston Vila on Sunday, but Ranieri refused to get carried away.
"We are very calm," said the Italian. "For me now I just want to get to 40 points and then after we do that we will see where we can go and maybe make a different goal."
Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was at fault for both Leicester goals, allowing Ngolo Kante's shot to slip through his hands for the opener and then bringing down Vardy for the penalty.
Troy Deeney's spot-kick got the Hornets back into the game with 15 minutes remaining, but there was no equaliser.
The 34-year-old has been a model of consistency since joining the club from Tottenham almost 18 months ago, but he held his hands up and accepted blame for this defeat, taking to Twitter to apologise.
He said: "Just want to apologise to the fans, the boys and the manager, I did let you down today, and I'm feeling really sad about that! Thanks for all you support, means a lot to me!"
Asked how he supports Gomes after such mistakes, Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores said: "More than ever.
"He makes a mistake, but before he was making saves every single time. But that is football, you can not change it so we support him every time.
"This is possible. It is football and during the play he is always focused and he is always concentrating and ,finally for us, it is an accident.
"We have to accept in football sometimes there are accidents and in this case we are not expecting it, but finally we support and love this player."