Ranieri: Played Well, Battled Well
- Leicester City held to 1-1 draw at Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League
- Point enough to send the Foxes top of the table ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Stoke City
- Shinji Okazaki scored for Leicester, but Riyad Mahrez saw a penalty saved shortly after
- Substitute Rudy Gestede scored controversial equaliser late-on for Villa
- City manager Claudio Ranieri admitted players were frustrated not to win
Claudio Ranieri admitted his Leicester City side were frustrated with their 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, despite moving to the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Ranieri’s Foxes looked well set shortly after the half-hour mark at Villa Park, leading through a Shinji Okazaki goal and with Riyad Mahrez standing over a penalty to double their lead.
But Mahrez, whose shot had been blocked by Aly Cissokho’s hand, was denied by Villa ‘keeper Mark Bunn in a moment that galvanised the Premier League’s bottom club.
Remi Garde’s men rallied after half-time and struck a 75th-minute equaliser – substitute Rudy Gestede rifling home via a deflection, despite suspicions of handball in the build-up.
“We lost two points tonight,” Ranieri conceded.
“We started very well, we scored a goal, but after missing the penalty the Aston Villa players took a new energy. If we score a second goal, we close the match.
“In the second half, we expected them to look for the long ball. It was a battle, but we were very calm, very attentive.
“They scored with a handball and the referee didn’t see it so we were unlucky.
“It’s a point from a derby. It’s ok, but we are disappointed.”
The point moved City back above Manchester City, who had gone top after winning earlier in the day. Arsenal, who led the way on goal difference before the weekend, take on Stoke City on Sunday.
Ranieri remains relaxed about the Foxes’ position in the league standings and says the message to his players is one of maintaining a high level of performance, regardless of results.
“We are sad tonight, but I say to the players, if we make a performance the result is not important for me.
“The performance tonight was good. We played well in the first half. The second half was a battle and we played in the battle.
“We conceded a goal because the referee didn’t see the handball but that’s ok. It can happen.”
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