FOXES UP FOR THE FIGHT

Ul­loa’s late penalty ex­tends Le­ices­ter’s lead at the top

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

Le­ices­ter City boss Clau­dio Ranieri be­lieves that the bat­tling qual­i­ties shown in the 2-2 draw with West Ham can give the Foxes a mas­sive psy­cho­log­i­cal boost in their bid for a first Premier League ti­tle.

The league lead­ers - who are now eight points clear of Spurs - showed im­pres­sive char­ac­ter, qual­ity and re­silience to re­cover from Jamie Vardy’s send­ing-off and a West Ham comeback to eke out what could prove a cru­cial point in the ti­tle race.

The King Power Sta­dium faith­ful went through the whole gamut of emo­tions af­ter goalscorer Vardy’s con­tro­ver­sial dis­missal paved the way for West Ham to go ahead through Andy Carroll’s spot-kick and a won­der­ful Aaron Cress­well strike. But Leonardo Ul­loa’s stop­page-time penalty se­cured a vi­tal draw for the Foxes.

“The send­ing off changed our match,” Clau­dio Ranieri told Sky Sports. “I judge my play­ers not the ref­eree, the ref­eree is not my mat­ter.

“Our per­for­mance was fan­tas­tic, this is our soul, we play ev­ery match with this, blood, heart and soul - it was mag­nif­i­cent.

“This point is very im­por­tant psy­cho­log­i­cally.”

Le­ices­ter de­fender Simp­son echoed his man­ager’s com­ments: “We have shown our team spirit and to­geth­er­ness.

“We will al­ways fight to the death. We can­not con­trol other things, we can fight and work hard.

“Jeff Schlupp did well to get a penalty and Leonardo Ul­loa slot­ted it away when there was a lot of pres­sure on him.

“I think that will turn out to be a mas­sive point, not many teams go 2-1 down and do what we did, phys­i­o­log­i­cally it will give us a mas­sive boost.” While all the fo­cus was on Le­ices­ter’s ti­tle charge, the draw leaves West Ham three points be­hind Manch­ester United as they bat­tle them­selves for a fin­ish in the top five. Ham­mers boss Slaven Bilic was dis­ap­pointed not to leave the King Power with all three points. “We are gut­ted, we did enough to win the game, be­fore [the] last five sec­onds,” said Bilic. “The game went that way and it was hard for the ref­eree with the crowd. “I feel for him. Although it was not a penalty. “We did enough to win the game and de­served to win it.”

MIXED EMO­TIONS: Jamie Vardy scored (inset) be­fore be­ing sent off in the 2-2 draw with West Ham

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