After the final whistle at the King Power Stadium, Claudio Ranieri said that he had been proved right about Newcastle United.
Before the game, the Leicester boss had said it would be a tricky match because Newcastle had brought a new manager in and that as well as the ‘bounce’ factor you usually get with the change, the fact that it was Rafa Benitez would make things extra difficult for the Foxes.
The first 25 minutes saw Newcastle arguably have the better of the game and whilst not looking world beaters, certainly the players looked a lot more committed and organised than under Steve McClaren.
After not making the most of three or four half chances, Newcastle were then punished by an excellent overhead kick by Okazaki. Which was when the team’s shortcomings then really came under scrutiny, as with Leicester having the lead, Newcastle looked so short of pace and inspiration to open up the opposition.
Claudio Ranieri was of course mainly concerned only about moving another three points closer to the title but also felt that Leicester hadn’t played as well as they had when drawing against both West Brom and Aston Villa. Whether this was down to Newcastle’s efforts or more a case of the visitors should have taken advantage of a substandard Leicester performance, is open to question.
Claudio Ranieri says that the Newcastle players wanted to show ‘attitude and their skills’ to Rafa Benitez.
Both Rafa and the Newcastle fans saw some of both last night – but much more is needed starting on Sunday, if United are indeed to be able to pull themselves out of relegation trouble.
“I feel very good but it was a difficult match – I said this before the match that it’s normal when the manager changes that the (Newcastle) players want to show their attitude and their skills.
“They are very concentrated on what the new manager (Rafa Benitez) says but it was good and we showed fantastic spirit.
“Not always did we play well. We played well for example against Aston Villa and West Bromwich but we drew those matches 1-1 and 2-2 – now we play not so good as those games but we won.
“That is important…three points. There are eight matches to go and we continue. Our fans are dreaming and are proud of us. That’s important for us and we’ll carry on.
“I’m very pleased because Okazaki, when there’s a ball around the box he arrives. Often he was so close to scoring at home but it wasn’t possible but tonight he scored and the three points for us was important.
“He’s a fantastic guy. Everybody loves him and it’s important that we continue to be together and help each other.
“Everybody together now. We have to push everybody together because there is something important for everybody.”
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Leicester 1 Newcastle 0
Leicester: Okazaki 26
Possession was Newcastle 50% Leicester 50%
Total shots were Newcastle 13 and Leicester 10
Shots on target were Newcastle 2 and Leicester 1
Corners were Newcastle 4 and Leicester 8
Team: Elliot, Janmaat, Lascelles, Taylor, Colback, Anita (Townsend 56), Shelvey (Doumbia 87), Sissoko,Wijnaldum, Perez (de Jong 71), Mitrovic
Unused Subs: Darlow, Saivet, Sterry, Doumbia
Ref: Craig Pawson
(To read instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction go HERE.)
(To add your player ratings on Monday night’s match and to see the ratings so far, go HERE.)