The dream lives on as Leicester go clear, Spurs move to second in table
Claudio Ranieri’s men are starting to believe they could actually win the English Premier League after defeating title rivals Manchester City 3-1
Leicester City’s fairytale season scaled new heights on Saturday as they opened up a five-point lead at the Premier League summit by winning 3-1 at title rivals Manchester City.
Centre-back Robert Huth scored twice, either side of a brilliant Riyad Mahrez goal, as Leicester recorded the finest win of their sensational 12-month rise from bottom to top of the English top flight.
Tottenham Hotspur leapfrogged City into second place by beating Watford 1-0 and Arsenal can also move above Manuel Pellegrini’s side if they win at Bournemouth on Sunday.
“There are a lot of super teams now. We will try. Why not?” said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, whose side visit Arsenal in another top-of-the-table encounter next weekend.
“The effort is a lot. Now it is important the players recover because we spent a lot of energy. Sometimes we run more than a bull. We play every match as though it is the last match.
“Now we are very, very confident and it is important to think about Arsenal. We are ready to fight there.”
Leicester were bottom of the Premier League 12 months ago and seemingly destined for relegation, but are now closing in one of the most sensational triumphs in English sporting history.
Huth opened the scoring from a third-minute Mahrez free-kick and headed in Leicester’s third goal on the hour after Mahrez had darted through the ragged City defence to make it 2-0.
Sergio Aguero reduced the arrears with a glancing header in the 87th minute – his seventh goal in five games.
British bookmakers reacted to Leicester’s victory by making them title favourites for the first time this season. A year ago to the day, they were three points from safety at the foot of the table.
City manager Pellegrini, due to be succeeded by Pep Guardiola at the season’s end, admitted that Leicester had been worthy winners, but vowed that his side would not give up.
“There are 36 points to play for. Nothing is finished,” said Pellegrini, whose side host Tottenham next weekend.
“It is important for us to recover our players and I am continuing not giving up because we got an unexpected defeat, but we must continue.”
Tottenham enhanced their own title chances by defeating Watford courtesy of a 64th-minute goal from right-back Kieran Trippier, who tapped in a delightful left-wing cross from substitute Dele Alli.
Elsewhere, Adam Johnson and Jermain Defoe scored as second-bottom Sunderland came from 2-0 down to snatch a 2-2 draw at Liverpool, whose manager Juergen Klopp was absent due to a suspected bout of appendicitis.
Despite losing Dejan Lovren and Joe Allen to injury, Liverpool went 2-0 up through Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana.
But Liverpool’s fans deserted the stadium en masse in the 77th minute in protest at rising ticket prices and it proved the spur for Sunderland’s comeback, with Johnson curling in a free-kick before Defoe equalised.
Everton leapt four places to seventh, above Liverpool on goal difference, with an impressive 3-0 win at Stoke City.
All of Everton’s goals came in the first half, Romelu Lukaku netting an 11th-minute penalty before Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon found the net.
West Ham United, four points above the two Merseyside clubs in sixth place, were due to play Southampton later on Saturday.
There was also movement at the bottom of the table, with Newcastle United moving out of the relegation zone after beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 courtesy of a cool Aleksandar Mitrovic finish in the 32nd minute.
Norwich City took their place in the bottom three after losing 2-0 at bottom club Aston Villa, who scored through Joleon Lescott and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Villa are now eight points from safety with 13 matches to play.
Crystal Palace ended a run of five straight defeats with a 1-1 draw at Swansea City, where Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 13th-minute free-kick for the hosts was cancelled out by a close-range Scott Dann effort.