EFL

Enzo Maresca hails ‘complete performance’ from Leicester in win at Watford

By Sports Desk February 10, 2024

Enzo Maresca said his Leicester side delivered a “complete performance” following a 2-1 victory at Watford that maintained their 11-point lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.

Patson Daka’s 10th-minute penalty and a 55th-minute effort from Ricardo Pereira appeared to have put Maresca’s team on course for a comfortable victory.

But a mistake by Foxes midfielder Harry Winks gifted Watford substitute Emmanuel Dennis the chance to reply in the 63rd minute and the visitors were forced to go on the defensive to protect the points.

And Maresca – who insisted he had got everything he wanted on his 44th birthday – said the combination of his side’s forward efforts together with their late resolve summed up their progress this season.

“We got three points and yes we are happy because it has been a complete performance in terms of we play when we have to play,” he said.

“And we suffered together, after the goals we conceded we lost a bit of confidence but overall I’m happy.”

He added: “It has been a complete performance because when we needed to play, we played the way we want to play. It’s part of the season we are trying to change some things.

“I can understand that the only thing that people can see is just get promoted. But for me get promoted is just at this moment.

“This was a club in transition last summer with lots of important players leaving.

“There are many more thing we have done. But I can understand the focus is on promotion, but we are changing many things.”

And the manager was adamant he would not criticise Winks for the misplaced pass that set Dennis up for the Watford reply.

He added: “The mistake is part of the process. I always said that if they try to do what we work on everyday and make a mistake, then it doesn’t matter. But if they don’t try, then they are not going to play.

“At the end Harry was a bit sad and upset, but it’s not any problem. And we are very happy with the second goal. It was very nice and the performance was good as well.”

Watford boss Valerien Ismael was pleased with his side’s efforts against the league leaders, and in particular ending a run of three games without a goal – even if he was unhappy at the decision to award a penalty after Leicester’s Dennis Praet went to ground after a challenge from Giorgi Chakvetadze.

“I’m really proud of the players and pleased with the performance and mentality they showed,” he said.

“In this game, you saw we had bad luck. After one minute, Bayo was injured and we needed to change the plan. After that, a soft penalty. I’ve been many years in English football and that was a soft penalty.

“Even when 1-0 down, we were disciplined and we were aggressive.

“I said at half-time it was still 1-0, and we had to be patient. It would have been wrong to have lost our heads and pushed too much.

“We had two or three situations on the edge of the box when we should have taken one or both to get back into the game.”

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Burnley: 35.9%
    Nottingham Forest: 34.8%
    Draw: 29.3%

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