Claudio Ranieri emphasised his pride at the spirit among his Leicester side after they claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Watford.
That spirit was typified by Riyad Mahrez, Leicester’s usual penalty taker, inviting his record-chasing team-mate Jamie Vardy to take a decisive spot-kick on Saturday.
Vardy emphatically obliged, blasting his shot straight down the middle to score for the ninth successive Premier League fixture.
The 28-year-old’s 12th goal of the season saw him move to within one game of equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s run of scoring in 10 straight matches, set in 2003 while at Manchester United.
Ranieri said: “They are all real friends, everybody understands the project.
“It is a very strong group, a friendly group and there is a good spirit in the group.
“When we get the penalty Riyad Mahrez gives Jamie the ball and says, ‘come on, score’. It was a lovely moment.
“Jamie wanted to score. It is so good for him to be scoring goals. Van Nistelrooy was a truly fantastic striker and Jamie has everything to reach that quality.”
The victory saw Leicester move level on points with Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester City ahead of their game at Aston Vila on Sunday, but Ranieri refused to get carried away.
“We are very calm,” said the Italian. “For me now I just want to get to 40 points and then after we do that we will see where we can go and maybe make a different goal.”
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