15 Mar 2016

Leicester restore 5 point lead in EPL

3:28 pm on 15 March 2016

Leicester City have restored their five point lead at the top of the English Premier League after a 1-nil home win over Newcastle United.

Leicester City football player Shinji Okazaki.

Leicester City football player Shinji Okazaki. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Leicester went in front after 25 minutes when the Japanese Shinji Okazaki beat goalkeeper Rob Elliot from close range with an overhead kick after striker Jamie Vardy had nodded the ball back into the danger area.

City have 63 points, five ahead of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, 11 in front of third-placed Arsenal and 12 ahead of Manchester City who both have a game in hand.

Leicester have 8 games remaining.

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri told the BBC, "I was sure it would be this kind of match. Their players showed Rafa their attitude and the Newcastle players are very good. I am sure that they will be safe.

"It wasn't the best performance from us but we showed fantastic spirit. We defended very well. We played, and we fight. It wasn't nervy in the second half, the team was so close and compact.

"I feel now that I am just concentrating on the next game against Crystal Palace. We are so strong, we think only one game at a time. Step by step, that is our pphilosophy."

Rafa Benitez, who succeeded Steve McClaren at the weekend, suffered defeat in his first game as Newcastle manager and has a huge task to keep them up with a crunch match against fellow north-east relegation candidates Sunderland on Sunday.

Newcastle are second from bottom, but only a point away from leaving the relegation zone.

Benitez said "I thought that we could get a result and I was convinced we could do it. But they worked really hard and are pushing and their tempo is not easy for any team.

"I will take the positives - we did well, you could see the commitment and the passion.

"There were a lot of positives and the team showed that they are convinced they can win. Every game will be important for us.

"We know our next game against Sunderland is a derby and it will be important for everyone but I have a feeling the fans are really good and they are the number 12 for the next game. We have plenty of things to do and they need to rest and work hard.

"I like the people, the staff, the fans and everyone is behind the club. Eveything is positive but now we have to give them what they want on the pitch. We cannot change this result but we can be happy in terms of the commitment of the players."

-Reuters and BBC