ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Leicester City 2
LONDON • Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has kept his poker face on all Premier League season - until yesterday.
After his side defeated relegation-threatened Sunderland 2-0 at the Stadium of Light to get within nine more points of the top-flight title, Ranieri was in tears.
The Italian sniffled and puffed his cheeks as he applauded the fans, knowing that the Foxes had momentarily moved 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who hosted Manchester United later yesterday.
Jamie Vardy had put the visitors ahead in the 66th minute and he added his second - and 21st of the season - in added time.
The striker's first league goals since Feb 14 ensured Leicester had a new club record for goals in a Premier League season (57).
It was a great game, we knew it would be tough but we managed to grind it out.
JAMIE VARDY, whose two goals gave Leicester victory over Sunderland.
At the back, they registered a fifth consecutive clean sheet in the top flight for the first time in their history. Each of those shutouts led to victories and a record five-game winning streak in this competition.
In front of the microphones, Ranieri, however, continued to downplay their achievements.
"We don't achieve nothing yet," he told the BBC. "We have to stay calm, be focused, strong, solid and keep going."
Leicester kept going when a stalemate appeared to beckon.
They struggled to impress in an even first half, which was well into stoppage time before either goalkeeper was troubled for the first time, Kasper Schmeichel saving well with his legs when a Fabio Borini shot was deflected goalwards by Leicester skipper Wes Morgan.
But Vardy broke the deadlock midway through the second half, sprinting onto a long, lofted through ball from fellow England international Danny Drinkwater to outpace his marker Younes Kaboul before finding the bottom corner from a narrow angle past 'keeper Vito Mannone.
Sunderland substitute Jack Rodwell wasted a glorious late opening, the midfielder firing fractionally too high when a deflected Patrick van Aanholt shot fell invitingly for the midfielder.
As they went in search of an equaliser, Sunderland left gaps at the back and eventually paid the price.
Taking a pass from substitute Demarai Gray, Vardy ran beyond Sunderland's trailing defence before rounding Mannone to roll the ball into an empty net.
"It was a great game, we knew it would be tough but we managed to grind it out," said Vardy.
"It's a step closer to possibly winning the league. We'll enjoy this for the rest of the day and then get back to training for the next week."
For Sunderland, they remain in the bottom three, four points behind Norwich City, who they play on Saturday.
"Today's game was a game where it looked like neither team would break the other defence down," Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce said.
"I can't accept how we conceded the first goal. We allowed Jamie Vardy to play to his strengths.
"We have to win the Norwich game. If they win they go so far away from us, and they are the last team we can catch now."