Puel on de­fen­sive as his men are out­foxed

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL -

MAN­AGER Claude Puel de­fended his team se­lec­tion af­ter Le­ices­ter crashed out of the FA Cup at New­port.

Padraig Amond’s 85th-minute penalty af­ter Marc Al­brighton had han­dled se­cured New­port’s shock vic­tory, and saw Le­ices­ter be­come the high­est-pro­file Premier League ca­su­al­ties on thir­dround week­end.

Le­ices­ter man­ager Puel – who was crit­i­cised for nam­ing a weak­ened side when the Foxes suf­fered a Carabao Cup quar­ter-fi­nal exit to Manch­ester City last month – had made seven changes from the side which won at Ever­ton on New Year’s Day.

Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­als Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell were among those miss­ing, but Puel said: “I think we had a good team with eight who played win­ning the ti­tle with Le­ices­ter, and a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers and qual­ity on the pitch. I think we had enough qual­ity on the pitch to qual­ify, I don’t want to look for ex­cuses about this.

“I think we lost to­gether, we are all to­gether dis­ap­pointed and frus­trated af­ter this game, be­cause it was an ob­jec­tive for us. This com­pe­ti­tion was im­por­tant.”

Amond’s coolly-struck win­ner came just four min­utes af­ter Rachid Ghez­zal ap­peared to have spared Le­ices­ter’s blushes with a pow­er­ful strike from the edge of the box.

Le­ices­ter had trailed from the 10th minute, Jamille Matt head­ing home Rob­bie Will­mott’s su­perb cross, and the Foxes passed up sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties to equalise be­fore Ghez­zal’s strike.

New­port, 13th in Sky Bet League Two and 74 places be­low Le­ices­ter on the foot­ball pyra­mid, knocked out Leeds in the third round last sea­son and held Tot­ten­ham at home be­fore los­ing a Wem­b­ley re­play. But this was the first time the Welsh side had beaten top-flight op­po­si­tion in the FA Cup since down­ing Sh­effield Wednes­day in 1964.

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