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Saturday 3 December 2016

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri hails spirit with Villa outfoxed

Claudio Ranieri was delighted with his side's fightback against Aston Villa
Claudio Ranieri was delighted with his side's fightback against Aston Villa

Claudio Ranieri hailed the spirit and character of his players after seeing Leicester stage a remarkable comeback to defeat Midlands rivals Aston Villa 3-2.

The Foxes looked like losing their unbeaten start to the season after a couple of wonderful curling efforts from Jack Grealish, his first goal for Villa, and Carles Gil put the visitors firmly in the driving seat with less than half an hour to go.

But goals from Ritchie De Laet, whose effort was given with the aid of goal-line technology, Jamie Vardy and substitute Nathan Dyer, who shipped a heavy knock (pictured) from Brad Guzman in the process, saw Ranieri's men snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

"My players were fantastic - fantastic spirit and character," said the affable Italian.

"At 2-0 I look at my players and they still believe it is possible. That is the spirit I love. The players believed in something good as a group and that is what I want.

Labelled 'the Tinkerman' from his previous spell in England with Chelsea a decade ago, Ranieri's return has actually been notable for his lack of changes.

Sunday was the first time he had swapped more than one player from the previous starting line-up, as Gokhan Inler was handed his full Premier League debut in place of Andy King and Shinji Okazaki replaced Ngolo Kante.

But it was his changes during the game that helped swing things back Leicester's way, introducing Dyer at half-time and moving Riyad Mahrez into a more central role before bringing on Leonardo Ulloa and Kante immediately after Villa went 2-0 ahead.

For just over and hour it was probably Villa's best performance of the season but they remain without a league win since the opening day of the season and manager Tim Sherwood could not hide his dejection.

"I've never felt this bad, ever. Who cares? Who cares if we played well?" he said.

"I'm bitterly disappointed for everyone associated with the club because the game is won with around 30 minutes to go. "The game was done, it was finished with us 2-0 up."

leicester 3 aston villa 2

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