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Claudio Ranieri tells Leicester to find character that saved them in 2015

Published 27/11/2016

Leicester's Islam Slimani rescued a point with an injury-time penalty in their 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Leicester's Islam Slimani rescued a point with an injury-time penalty in their 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has told the struggling champions to harness the spirit of their great escape after the Foxes' drop fears grew.

The champions are just two points above the Premier League relegation zone after Saturday's last-gasp 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough.

Islam Slimani's injury-time penalty rescued a point for the struggling title holders who have won just once in their last eight league games.

Leicester beat relegation under ex-boss Nigel Pearson in 2015 - before clinching the title with Ranieri a year later - by winning seven of their final nine games after looking certainties for the drop.

Ranieri admitted on Saturday for the first time a relegation battle was a possibility and he wants the Foxes to rediscover that great escape fight.

"They must play with the pressure, they must remember how it was two seasons ago. They must play with the same character," he said.

"We must live in two ways. One in the Champions League and one in the Premier League. In the Champions League we are so happy but in the Premier League we aren't happy. Then it's important to be focused on the Premier League.

"The players are human. They are not machines. They remember last season, everyone playing well and everything they tried to do was good. This year no, we have to reconnect their brains."

Leicester struggled all game against spirited Boro, who twice went ahead through Alvaro Negredo, with Riyad Mahrez's penalty initially equalising in the first half.

The Foxes have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six league games and Ranieri feels their struggles can be, in part, put down to human nature after shocking the country to win the title by 10 points in May.

He said: "Look at Chelsea last season, with a lot of champions they didn't work so well. This season, they have (N'Golo) Kante and (Marcos) Alonso, the others are the same and now are top. What happened? It's football. It's men. It's a lot of things."

The draw left Middlesbrough a point above the relegation zone but midfielder Adam Clayton praised Negredo after he ended an 11-game goal drought.

"I'm not sure (Lionel) Messi would have got many goals playing up front for us in the games we've played," he said.

"But he's had two chances and put them in the net so hopefully that can get him up and running and starting to score a few more."

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