Belfast Telegraph

Ranieri on high as gutsy Foxes stage late show

By Samuel Stevens

Claudio Ranieri does not often give in to bouts of egotism, but the unbeaten Leicester City manager can be forgiven for doing so after this latest epic saw his side climb to second.

New loan signing Nathan Dyer headed the winner a minute from time after Ritchie de Laet and Jamie Vardy had cancelled out fine long-distance efforts by Aston Villa's Jack Grealish and Carles Gil.

Ranieri was derided by club legend Gary Lineker as an "uninspired" choice to succeed Nigel Pearson. But a late 17-minute salvo yesterday propelled the Foxes above Arsenal and Manchester United in the table.

"I wanted to play," Ranieri joked at full-time. "It was an amazing match, unbelievable. My players showed wonderful character. The fans can dream but I have solid feet on the ground."

Grealish, yet to commit to either England or the Republic of Ireland, marked his return from an ankle injury to pounce when Carlos Sanchez's strike deflected neatly into his path.

After the break, Riyad Mahrez and Gokhan Inler stood off the approaching Gabby Agbonlahor down the left wing, giving him time to pick out a pass, and Gil ghosted in to finish.

Less than 10 minutes later, De Laet corkscrewed his body to latch onto Mahrez's looping cross to convert.

The sensational Mahrez then cut in between Grealish and Sanchez, offloading it to Danny Drinkwater before Vardy (left) surged past Micah Richards to bury it.

Soon after, Mahrez scooped a cross over the back line and onto the head of Dyer, who guided it past Brad Guzan.

"I'm devastated," Villa manager Sherwood said. "When you are at this level, in control, to throw it away... I'm lost for words."

Belfast Telegraph


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