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Enzo Maresca says Leicester must be mentally strong after third successive loss

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca said his team will need to be mentally strong after losing the last three Championship games and seeing their lead at the top of the table cut to just three points.

QPR produced a shock result at the King Power Stadium as goals from Ilias Chair and Sinclair Armstrong earned them a 2-1 win that boosts their hopes of avoiding relegation.

Leicester pulled a back through defender Ben Nelson’s first senior goal but they could not find an equaliser and both Ipswich and Leeds are closing in on the leaders.

“It’s a bad feeling. In the last three defeats, we dominated with the chances but the most important thing is to score goals. We lacked quality in the last third,” said Maresca.

“I don’t think it was a matter of being nervous, I didn’t have this feeling from the players. With 11 games to go, we need to finish in the best way.

“It’s been long time since we have been at the top and everyone is chasing us, we can’t think about that, we just need to win games.

“When you drop points and the rest win, you see yourself that they are coming, but we need balance at the moment. You cannot be so happy or so sad.

“If you get too nervous it could be dangerous, if you relax, it could be dangerous. You have to be mentally strong because we have a game in three days (at Sunderland).”

QPR manager Marti Cifuentes praised his players, but said a “great escape” is still not complete after a third successive win, which only lifted them one place up the table and leaves them outside the bottom three only on goal difference.

“We performed at a really high level against a team that is extremely good. They are a very good side with a fantastic coach and I’m sure they will go up despite the last three defeats,” said Cifuentes.

“All the credit to the players because they were very well organised for a long time. We were clinical as we had to be.

“I thought Leicester would be more dangerous and angry after the last two defeats.

“It was an important win for us, but I’m not getting carried away with a victory. The reality is the table shows we are still in a big battle. To get out and achieve this great escape, there is still a lot more to be done.”

Cifuentes praised Chair for opening the scoring. The Morocco international has continued to feature amid reports he faces a year in prison after being found guilty in Belgium of assault, with QPR saying on February 23 that “the legal proceeding is yet to reach its conclusion”.

The Spanish coach added: “I am very pleased with Ilias and the rest of the players so I am not talking much about other things that the club had already commented on. I am pleased about his goal and he is a very important player for us.”

Cifuentes was also delighted with 20-year-old forward Armstrong, who scored with his first touch after coming on as a 57th-minute substitute.

“It was a fantastic first touch, a fantastic way to start the game for him, he gave us exactly what we were looking for,” he said.

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