Ranieri hails ‘character’ of comeback kings

Matthew Stead
Claudio Ranieri: Wants Leicester to revel in their title challenge

Claudio Ranieri: Wants Leicester to revel in their title challenge

Claudio Ranieri was full of praise for his Leicester side after watching them overturn a two-goal deficit with 20 minutes remaining to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

The Foxes found themselves 2-0 down after 63 minutes through goals from Jack Grealish and Carles Gil, but found a foothold into the game through Ritchie De Laet’s goal.

Jamie Vardy then equalised 10 minutes later, with Nathan Dyer completing a remarkable comeback win with a header a matter of minutes from the end.

Italian boss Ranieri was bursting with pride for his troops, hailing their “character” and “spirit”.

“It’s fantastic. Fantastic spirit and good character,” the Italian told Sky Sports. “After 2-0 I watched my players but they believed that anything was possible and that’s the spirit I love. You can lose but it’s important to fight until the end of the match.

“This victory is very important to restart well and get three points. It’s fantastic.

“I have a lot of experience but this group is fantastic. We must play every match in this way.”

Although his side now sit second behind only Manchester City, Ranieri has set his sights only on avoiding relegation this season.

“I told the players we have 11 points, with 29 less [for safety],” he said. “I don’t know when we achieve these 29 points but the sooner [the better], that is our goal. At the moment we want to think only to save the team.”

Ranieri reserved particular praise for man of the match Riyad Mahrez and match winner Nathan Dyer, adding: “Mahrez is in very good condition and when he touches the ball, something important for us could happen. And Nathan Dyer was every time a very good threat.”

The former Chelsea boss added, speaking to BBC Sport: “It was a fantastic second half. We know they played better early on but after 2-0 we started to play with our spirit and it was a very fantastic match.

“We scored a good first goal that gave confidence to everybody and maybe Villa players were wondering what could happen now.”