Le­ices­ter ro ut Swansea even with star man in the stand

Ul­loa steps up to the task of re­plac­ing sus­pended Vardy as league lead­ers ham­mer lack­lus­tre Swansea

The Herald - Herald Sport - - BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE -

CLAU­DIO RANIERI, the Le­ices­ter City man­ager, last night called on his play­ers to fin­ish the job and win the Bar­clays Premier League.

The Foxes cruised to a 4-0 win over an in­sipid Swansea City side to move eight points clear at the top of the ta­ble ahead of sec­ond-placed Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s home match with West Bromwich Al­bion this evening.

They need just five points from their fi­nal three games af­ter be­ing 5,000-1 to win the league at the start of the sea­son and Ranieri, hav­ing only just bro­ken his self-im­posed ban on any kind of ti­tle talk, wants them to fin­ish an un­be­liev­able cam­paign in style.

Leonardo Ul­loa re­placed the sus­pended Jamie Vardy and scored twice while Riyad Mahrez and Marc Al­brighton also found the net in a straight­for­ward af­ter­noon’s work.

“I talked to my play­ers be­fore the match and I said: ‘We had a dream so far - now make a dream re­al­ity,” said Ranieri.

“Now is the right mo­ment to push. If Tot­ten­ham are bet­ter than us, okay, but we have to fight be­cause we will never have this fan­tas­tic mo­ment.

“There are only three matches and we know they are im­por­tant for our his­tory. For this rea­son, we give every­thing.

“We play with our hearts and it’s dif­fi­cult to beat those who play with the heart and soul.

“In my mind, Tot­ten­ham will win all the matches.

“We have to win five points and it’s done. It’s not easy, but we have to con­cen­trate.”

Ranieri was par­tic­u­larly pleased by his side’s abil­ity to record such a re­sound­ing win with their top scorer Vardy miss­ing.

“It’s im­por­tant be­cause ev­ery­one wanted to see our an­swer with­out Jamie Vardy and that was a fan­tas­tic an­swer, in my opin­ion,” said the Ital­ian. “With­out Jamie, ev­ery­one made some­thing more.

“I love to see my play­ers fight­ing to­gether.”

Ranieri re­served par­tic­u­lar praise for Ul­loa with the Ar­gen­tinian un­doubt­edly the star man on the day.

“I am very, very pleased with Leonardo,” he said. “I am very pleased with Jeff Schlupp and all of my play­ers.

“Leonardo made a fan­tas­tic per­for­mance. He jumped, he scored two goals, he at­tacked, he de­fended. Well done.

“We scored an early goal and played so, so well tac­ti­cally.

“Very con­cen­trated, very fo­cused be­cause Swansea want to build from be­hind and to move the ball quickly.”

Ul­loa also made thoughts about his team-mates clear af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

“I am happy be­cause this team is un­be­liev­able,” he said. “We miss Vardy as he is a very good player, but we knew we could play well and I en­joy play­ing with th­ese team-mates.

“I am al­ways ready to play and want to help the team. It is what I work for. I am just happy I could score two goals.”

Should Tot­ten­ham slip up at White Hart Lane this evening, Le­ices­ter can win the Premier League at Manch­ester United next week.

Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin watched his side ca­pit­u­late af­ter a mis­take from cap­tain Ash­ley Wil­liams gifted Mahrez a 10th-minute opener.

They are safe this sea­son, but have now shipped seven goals in their last two games fol­low­ing last week’s 3-0 de­feat at New­cas­tle.

“Le­ices­ter de­serve to win the ti­tle be­cause this is a very strong team,” said Guidolin.

“This is a dream for Le­ices­ter and I un­der­stand a few weeks ago why Clau­dio had tears (at Sun­der­land).

“To­day, I saw my team fight for 90 min­utes against the strong­est team in the Premier League.

“We have to im­prove on con­ced­ing goals. It is not a prob­lem of de­fend­ers. It is a prob­lem of the team.”

Chelsea mid­fielder Eden Haz­ard, mean­while, has re­vealed that the Stam­ford Bridge club are keen to help Le­ices­ter win the league ahead of their Lon­don ri­vals.

Spurs travel to Chelsea on May 2 and Haz­ard is ea­ger to beat them and hand the ti­tle to Ranieri and his men.

“We don’t want Tot­ten­ham to win the Premier League, the fans, the club and the play­ers,” said the Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional in an in­ter­view with Chelsea’s club web­site.

“In foot­ball, you never know. We hope for Le­ices­ter be­cause they de­serve to be cham­pi­ons, but we will see.

“We have a big game next week against Tot­ten­ham and if we can beat them, it will be good.”

FIGHT­ING FOXES: Man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri has a mock punch-up with his Le­ices­ter stars af­ter they de­feated Swansea 4-0

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