Football: Ranieri upbeat after draw, even as Pulis says Foxes deserve title

Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel getting down to block a shot by West Brom's Gareth McAuley during the 2-2 draw on Tuesday.
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel getting down to block a shot by West Brom's Gareth McAuley during the 2-2 draw on Tuesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Manager 'confident' despite 2-2 draw, even as West Brom's Pulis says Foxes deserve title

LONDON • Claudio Ranieri insisted he was increasingly confident about Leicester City's chances of completing a football miracle at the top of the English Premier League, despite the disappointment of being held to a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion.

Their inability to beat the league's 13th-placed side meant Tottenham Hotspur could move to the top of the table with a win over West Ham last night. But Ranieri said he felt better about his team's chances than he had been after Saturday's 1-0 win against Norwich.

"It was a fantastic match and I am very pleased with our performance," he said after watching his side fire 22 shots, although just five found the target. "It was just the (winning) goal that was missing but we created a lot of chances. We were a little unlucky but I am more confident now than after the game against Norwich.

"Against Norwich, we won the game at the end but we created very few chances. Tonight we created a lot of chances but we drew the match. It is okay - four points from two difficult matches, it is fantastic."

Leicester were forced to respond to a few questions West Brom asked of them. The first came after 12 minutes, when the Foxes went behind to Salomon Rondon's 12th-minute strike.

BETTER DISPLAY

Against Norwich, we won the game at the end but we created very few chances. Tonight we created a lot of chances but we drew the match. It is okay - four points from two difficult matches, it is fantastic.

CLAUDIO RANIERI, Leicester manager, who does not rue the two points dropped.

But Leicester fought back to lead 2-1 at half-time through Danny Drinkwater's deflected shot and a goal from Andy King.

Craig Gardner's free kick pulled West Brom level early in the second half and they held on for a point after posing Leicester with a tactical challenge for most of the game.

Ranieri's men have had an average of 41 per cent possession this season before Tuesday, enjoying much success on the counter-attack. Against West Brom, they had 65 per cent of the ball but had to break down a team who were well organised by Tony Pulis.

West Brom were 4-1-4-1 with a back four of centre-backs and Pulis acclaimed his team's "heroic defending" during a late onslaught from Leicester.

Substitute Leonardo Ulloa almost grabbed a late goal but his effort went just wide. Earlier, Leicester struck the woodwork twice through Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki. Despite the draw, the 5,000-1 rank outsiders at the start of the season won over a fan for their final 10 games - Pulis.

"They play through the pitch quickly, they get the ball wide and they get bodies in the box. They play really exciting football," said the West Brom manager. "The way the team is set up, the balance, the enthusiasm, the commitment, every Leicester City supporter should be proud of their team.

"They're fantastic - their effort, their energy, they never stop. We've done brilliantly and it's a fantastic point for us but now the game's over I hope Leicester win the league."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'RANIERI UPBEAT'. Print Edition | Subscribe