03 Apr Foxes countdown to title
Claudio Ranieri insists leaders Leicester answered any doubters as they moved seven points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Captain Wes Morgan’s first goal of the season earned the Foxes a 1-0 win over Southampton to put clear distance between them and Tottenham in the table.
Spurs had drawn 1-1 at Liverpool on Saturday to hand Leicester the chance to stretch their remarkable lead 24 hours later.
Boss Ranieri recognised their rivals were waiting for a slip and, while he still refused to talk about the title, believes the Foxes proved they have staying power at the top.
He said: “It was a good answer to the Premier League because now everybody is waiting for us after the Liverpool v Tottenham draw. We gave a very good answer.
“I am very calm. We believe in what we are doing, we believe it’s a magical season and believe next season won’t be the same, but then we try. We try to do our best. Other teams can win
3-0, 4-0, we have to fight to win 1-0. We must be focused in our way.”
A year ago this weekend the Foxes started their great escape, winning seven of their final nine games to stay up.
On Sunday chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha paid for free doughnuts and beer for fans to celebrate his birthday on Monday.
“We sung happy birthday to him in the dressing room before the match and I asked the players to give him a good present, three points,” he said. “We are pleased for him because he is a fantastic man. He came from Thailand to watch the match and has a very long journey back.”
Again, Leicester were not at their best, but only goalkeeper Fraser Forster denied them more goals as he stopped Jose Fonte scoring an own goal before saving from Danny Simpson.
Southampton were mostly toothless, but Sadio Mane should have opened the scoring in the first half when Simpson blocked his effort after the forward rounded Kasper Schmeichel.
Defeat dented the Saints’ European hopes and boss Ronald Koeman felt Simpson stopped Mane’s shot with his arm, while they were also denied a penalty when the ball hit Robert Huth’s hand in the box.
He said: “I think we deserved two penalties, that’s the third time in a row, Stoke, Liverpool and today. It’s a key moment in the game.
“The chance of Mane is handball off his (Simpson’s) arm. It’s a penalty and it’s a red card. It makes it totally different and the second is the cross of Charlie Austin, defended by handball.
“I saw the penalty for Newcastle (against Norwich) on Saturday, is that different? If it’s not a penalty don’t give them, but it’s a big decision in the game.
“I asked him (referee Michael Oliver) to see the clip, but it’s not allowed for them to see the clip. Maybe if he stays home with his family he will realise he made a big, big, big mistake.”
On the penalty shouts, Ranieri said: “Two? When Simpson saves the shot, he was running. He touched the ball with his hand, but it was very close to his side. I think it’s not a penalty. The other I didn’t see.”