Leicester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points as Rafael Benitez’s first match in charge of Newcastle United ended in a 1-0 defeat. Shinji Okazaki’s spectacular overhead kick earned the Foxes a win which, with just eight games left, moved them closer to their first league title. An improved Newcastle went close through Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko. But ultimately Leicester City’s pressing foiled them and the defeat leaves the Magpies second from bottom.
Before the match, Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri refused to accept his team were favourites to win the title, insisting that qualifying for the Europa League was the target. But as Ranieri gesticulated on the sidelines in the closing minutes, urging the home fans to increase the volume, his actions suggested that he and his team are chasing more than a chance to compete in Europe’s second-tier competition.
With every passing week, the prospect of the Foxes achieving what their former striker Gary Lineker describes as possibly the most “unlikely triumph in the history of team sport” becomes more likely. A team which at the start of the season were among the bookies’ favourites to be relegated are on the home straight, unbeaten in four matches and closing in on history. Ranieri’s men are 12 points clear of Manchester City and 11 ahead of Arsenal, leaving many to believe the title is a two-way fight between the leaders and second-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
But Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri says the Premier League title race is still open. He insists the title race is not a straight fight between his side and Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City are still in it. Asked if only Leicester City or Spurs could be champions, Italian Ranieri, 64, responded: “No, the race is open.” He added: “There are so many people who are dreaming, but we have to continue to work hard. I want to fight every match. Now our concentration is about Crystal Palace, who will be their competitors in next game on Saturday, another difficult match. We will go to battle there.”
Information took from Leicester City 1-0 Newcastle United – BBC Sport