Plymouth director of football Neil Dewsnip was “absolutely delighted” with his side’s shock 1-0 Championship victory at home to leaders Leicester that eased their relegation worries.

Recalled Mustapha Bundu scored a 21st-minute winner with an angled strike after running onto a defence-splitting ball from Adam Forshaw.

Home goalkeeper Michael Cooper made a string of stops as Leicester piled on the pressure but the hosts held on for maximum points as they moved to 16th and now sit five points clear of the bottom three.

Dewsnip said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result. Made up but we know it’s not done yet. We still have a target and that is to stay in this league.

“Our aim is to stay in the league. It’s been the same since day one when we started in the Championship. It’s been a great night for Plymouth Argyle Football Club.

“We still have three more games to play and more points to play for. The players stuck to the shape we wanted and I am delighted we stuck to the game plan.

“Mustapha’s goal was absolutely terrific. He’s got that finish in him we see every week in training. It does fly over the railings one or two times but credit to him that was a really good goal.

“The fans from the first minute to the last were just at it. I found myself clapping with them at one point.

“I am absolutely delighted the team recorded a 1-0 win for them.

“We have not had a great record defending set -pieces, so we worked on it and got an unbelievable response.

“Thankfully tonight was our night not theirs. I am sure Leicester will have theirs in the future.

“Tomorrow I think I will be watching the scores come in, especially as 24 hours ago we weren’t sitting here with these three points.”

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca took the positives from their second-consecutive loss as they remain level on points with second-placed Ipswich, with Leeds a point further back ahead of their games on Saturday.

He said: “It has been a tough week with two defeats in a row that we did not expect so we are upset.

“The only good thing is that fortunately, it is still in our hands.

“We need to take our chances and start to win games. We have four games to go, three of them at home, with our fans behind us, so hopefully we can finish well.

“At the end – and I have said it many times – the problem is when you don’t create chances. That is when you have to be worried and find a different solution.

“At this moment we are struggling to score. We created chances inside the six-yard box, from outside the box and we struggle.

“But there are moments over the season where we need to win the game and it doesn’t matter which way we need to win the game.

“But as I said, the positive thing is it’s still in our hands in the last four games. Now we cannot lose any more chances we have to try and win those (four) games.

“At this moment we need all our players. For sure, when you don’t win games there is always a why?

“I don’t see a big difference between tonight’s game and when we started the season.

“When we lose you are always looking for the reason. The team are still competing and are still creating chances.

“I don’t know if we need all the four games to win the league but we will still go out to win those four games.

“With one chance they (Plymouth) were clinical and we had more chances and were not clinical.”

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca expects plenty more twists in the Championship promotion race.

The Foxes suffered a wobble in their bid for an instant return to the Premier League after a stunning Ryan Longman strike condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at struggling Millwall.

Back-to-back wins had reignited their promotion bid and lifted them back to the top of the pile.

But, while Leeds could only pick up a point at home to Sunderland and stay second, third-placed Ipswich can climb above both if they beat Watford on Wednesday.

“It was a tough night, in the first half we struggled on the ball, we were not clean,” said Maresca.

“They defended very well. We expected in the second half to find more space but they scored a fantastic goal.

“Now is not the time to think too much. Tonight is gone.

“The last games are more or less similar for all the teams. Clubs are trying to survive or go up, the intensity is higher. It’s a problem for us, but for every club.

“If you watch the table yesterday, and tonight, and in two days, you’d go crazy. We have to go game by game.”

The goal arrived on the hour after Wout Faes lost the ball in midfield and Billy Mitchell sent Longman scampering away down the left.

The on-loan Hull winger cut inside Harry Winks before curling a spectacular 25-yard effort past Foxes goalkeeper Mads Hermansen and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Kelechi Iheanacho had the chance to rescue a point in stoppage time but his header was cleared from under the crossbar by Mitchell.

The Lions were in need of the points for different reasons and battled to a first win in five matches to go four points clear of the relegation zone.

Lions boss Neil Harris said: “Firstly, it’s so Millwall-like to lose to Rotherham and Huddersfield, both in the last minute, and then beat the league leaders.

“That’s what this club does. Not just this group. The last 30 years of Millwall Football Club.

“We scored a goal that would win any game at this level. I thought it was an excellent Millwall performance. To play against arguably the best team in the league and limit them to very little was so impressive.

“We’re moving in the right direction. What I’m seeing in the group is a lot of positives.”

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca paid tribute to his team’s character after seeing them regain control of the race for automatic promotion from the Championship.

Stephy Mavididi’s 87th-minute header, after Jay Stansfield had earlier cancelled out Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s opener, saw the Foxes beat Birmingham 2-1 and take full advantage of defeats for Ipswich and Leeds to regain first place.

Despite dominating for long periods, against opponents who now find themselves inside the relegation zone with only five matches remaining, Maresca’s men struggled to translate their superiority into a commanding lead following Dewsbury-Hall’s clinical 28th-minute finish from Patson Daka’s assist.

Indeed, when Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen gifted Blues a route back into the game, it appeared as if the visitors would claim an unlikely point in their battle for survival.

But after seeing Stansfield charge down the Dane’s attempted clearance on the stroke of half-time, Maresca’s men held their nerve with Mavididi guiding substitute Yunus Akgun’s centre past John Ruddy and into the back of the net.

“I just told the players I’m very happy, especially for the way we came through,” Maresca said.

“We performed well throughout the whole of the game. Unfortunately we conceded right at the end of the first half but carried on in exactly the same way in the second.

“There can be a temptation to try and go long ball but we resisted that temptation.

“The big thing for us is to manage the emotions. That is the most important thing at this stage of the season.

“When we come to this point, things can move around a lot. Positions can change a lot. So it is important just to keep that focus, dominate the transitions, and keep doing the same thing. Show belief in what you are doing. We did that out there.”

With the Foxes returning to action at Millwall on Tuesday, Maresca added: “We just need to go game by game now. That has to be the mentality. We are not looking beyond that.

“We simply focus on the next one and go from there. Then, when the season is over, that is when we look at our position.”

Rowett, overseeing Blues for the third time since being placed in interim charge, cut a frustrated but defiant figure afterwards.

“It was tough to take, especially when you get to that time,” he said.

“But Leicester are an incredible side and they make the pitch so wide. There was some last-ditch defending and yes, there were times when we were thinking we’d done well to keep them at bay. But we just could not hold on and that is disappointing.

“There were periods when we did put them under pressure. That was when the stadium felt like a different place. But when you press them, they find those spaces and can play through you. That’s what really good sides do, they find ways and solutions.”

Despite their perilous predicament, Rowett is still backing Blues to haul themselves out of trouble.

“Our season is not going to be defined by taking points at Leicester away,” he added.

“It is going to be defined by our home games. It’s up to us and I think we’ve got enough quality in the group.

“What you have to do, at this stage of the season, is perform under pressure. For me that pressure is a privilege.”

Boss Enzo Maresca was in bullish mood after Anis Mehmeti’s superb strike earned Bristol City a 1-0 win to put another dent in Leicester’s bid for automatic promotion from the Championship.

The winger found the roof of the net with a stunning left-footed strike from the edge of the box in the 73rd minute to inflict a fourth defeat in six league games on the stuttering Foxes.

Leicester paid for missed chances, with Jamie Vardy the leading culprit as he was twice denied by fine Max O’Leary saves when one-on-one with the Robins goalkeeper.

Vardy was substituted after Mehmeti’s goal and along with his team-mates had to endure boos at the final whistle from the massed ranks of travelling fans.

But Maresca declined to join in any sense of panic and said: “There would be cause for concern if the performances weren’t there.

“But we are creating so much and our recent defeats have all been down to not finishing our chances.

“The reaction of our fans at the end was understandable. All I can say to them is if they get nervous now it can transmit to the players over our remaining games. They have been brilliant up to now.

“Jamie Vardy doesn’t need to apologise to anyone after all he has contributed over the years.

“Even the best strikers miss chances. That’s football. He will continue to be a very important player to us over the remaining games.

“We have another game in 72 hours so there is no time to dwell on this defeat. We have to recover quickly and be ready to face Norwich.”

Bristol City head coach Liam Manning paid glowing tribute to his players after their best win since he took charge.

He said: “I have to admit I expected our net to bulge with the Vardy chances but Max O’Leary did an outstanding job.

“He has international ambitions with Ireland and they are looking increasingly realistic.

“We might have had a couple of penalties and the lads were terrific in carrying out our game plan. In the end, we deserved the result.

“Results have not always gone our way recently but the dividing line between success and failure in the Championship is so slim.

“I see the lads in training every day and I know how keen they are to learn and improve.

“Players like Anis Mehmeti are still at the beginnings of their careers. He can frustrate at times but his goal showed what he is capable of producing.

“You always need to ride your luck at times against quality opposition but I couldn’t be happier with the overall team performance.”

Enzo Maresca saluted the character of his side after Leicester battled back to earn a 2-2 at Hull.

Jamie Vardy scored a brace as the Sky Bet Championship league leaders twice came from behind to earn a valuable point at the MKM Stadium.

Maresca – whose side are now three points clear of second-placed Leeds – said: “It was a tough game, as we expected.

“They are a very good team and their four players up front are very quick and very technical.

“The game for me was a good game. They pressed man-to-man and we had to do that, too.

“Sometimes when you can’t win, you take a point by trying and trying – and we did that.

“We conceded a goal but the reaction was there. We conceded a second one and the reaction was there.

“We could have done many things better, but I think the character was there and that was important.”

As has been a hallmark of their season, Leicester had to dig in to get something from a fine game of football.

Fabio Carvalho opened the scoring on16 minutes after Wout Faes carelessly lost possession on the edge of the penalty box.

Carvalho did well to maintain composure and atone for his earlier penalty miss after Stephy Mavididi ended Regan Slater’s power-packed run inside the area.

Vardy equalised from the spot after 31 minutes when Jean Michael Seri was controversially adjudged to have upended Abdul Fatawu.

A finely balanced second half swung the way of the hosts on 61 minutes after Annas Zaroury’s lovely left-footed hit arrowed into the bottom-right corner.

But Hull’s celebrations lasted just two minutes as Vardy added a second when he sharply controlled Fatawu’s perfect pass before flighting the ball into the roof of the net.

Maresca said: “I was very happy with the reaction. Sometimes it’s important you see the reaction, and we saw that.

“You have to adapt. We made some mistakes but, overall, we continued to try until the end.

“What they (his players) have done is not normal and when we had nine points more (at the top of the league) it was not normal.

“We are very happy where we are and we still have nine games to go.”

On Vardy, Maresca added: “He has the most important thing in football, which is to score goals.

“We have to manage him because of his age. For sure, he’s going to help us until the end.”

Hull are unbeaten in seven but they have drawn their last three league games and have been replaced by Norwich in the top six.

Head coach Liam Rosenior said: “That performance is going to stand us in good stead.

“I slept well last night because I know what this team are about. We did it our way against an outstanding team.

“There were a lot pleasing aspects. We let ourselves down with momentary lapses of concentration, but our players are young.

“We make naïve decisions at time but in our naivety there’s a fearlessness and bravery to our game.

“We need to peak now. The players are showing me that they are learning and improving.

“If they can keep doing that we will get to where we want to be.”

Rosenior added: “We have gone up against an outstanding team at this level so I’m delighted.

“If you look how the team and the club has grown in the last 18 months, I’m so excited and proud to be part of his process.

“We’re all in this together and that was an outstanding afternoon for the football club.

“It’s a points accumulation, but these players are showing me they are improving all the time.

“We should have won the game from our performance – I just need to nudge them two or three more per cent and then we’ll get there.”

Leicester are three points clear of Leeds at the top of the Sky Bet Championship after Jamie Vardy’s double earned his side a 2-2 draw at play-off chasing Hull.

Enzo Maresca’s men had to work hard against the Tigers and fell behind when Fabio Carvalho, who had earlier missed from the penalty spot, scored after 16 minutes.

But Leicester showed plenty of resolve and equalised through Vardy’s contentious penalty after 31 minutes.

Hull again nudged in front when Annas Zaroury let fly from the edge of the penalty box on 61 minutes, but Vardy scored a trademark second just two minutes later to secure the Foxes an important point.

Having ended a three-match losing run with victory at Sunderland on Tuesday, Leicester supporters might have expected their side to kick on at the MKM Stadium.

But they were surprisingly placid in the first half and should have conceded after just six minutes.

Regan Slater’s lung-busting run from deep caught the visitors unawares, with Stephy Mavididi nudging the Hull midfielder off his stride inside the penalty area.

Referee Samuel Barrott awarded a penalty, but Carvalho’s spot-kick was complacent, and Mats Hermansen impressively stood his ground.

Hull’s promising start was rewarded soon afterwards, though, as Carvalho atoned for his penalty miss with a fine goal.

Wout Faes conceded possession in an awful area, though Hamza Choudhury did the Leicester defender few favours with a rash pass.

The Liverpool loan signing had lots of work to do, but Carvalho was direct and brave before striking low under Hermansen, who perhaps went to ground too early.

Leicester needed a spark, which arrived after 20 minutes.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s strike from the edge of the box was not especially pleasing on the eye, but it squirmed from the reach of Ryan Allsop and on to the base of the left post.

Dewsbury-Hall’s attempt served notice of Leicester’s growing influence upon the game, which was finally balanced at the break after Vardy scored from the spot.

Jean Michael Seri was adjudged by Barrott to have fouled Abdul Fatawu, who went over rather too easily.

Vardy made no mistake with a neat penalty into the right corner.

Leicester improved thereafter, but they were far from at their best and again fell behind when Zaroury expertly powered home with his left foot from the edge of the box.

But with celebrating home fans still returning to their seats, Vardy scored again.

Fatawu’s smart pass from the right cut bisected Hull centre-backs Jacob Greaves and Alfie Jones to find an onrushing Vardy in his favourite position.

After having put Allsop on his backside with his first touch, the former England international artfully switched onto his right before smashing the ball into an unguarded net.

Neutrals anticipating a grandstand finale were left disappointed as both sides cancelled one another out during a tactical final half-hour in which Leicester finished strongly but did not do enough to win an absorbing game of football.

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca has told veteran striker Jamie Vardy he has a key role to play as the Sky Bet Championship leaders edge their way back towards the Premier League.

The 37-year-old scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Sunderland on Tuesday evening which ended the Foxes’ three-game losing streak in the league and maintained their three-point advantage over second-placed Ipswich.

Asked about the former England international’s contribution, Maresca said: “We know very well that Jamie is so important for us. He has been so important this season and he will be important for the end of the season.

“He has experience, but also he has done in his life and is doing the most important thing in football, that is scoring goals.”

Vardy’s 13th-minute header after Anthony Patterson had saved Wout Faes’ initial effort proved the difference between the sides on a night when the Foxes might have had the game won by half-time, but then needed a fine save from goalkeeper Mads Hermansen after the break to deny Trai Hume a spectacular equaliser.

The home side were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty for Hamza Choudhury’s stoppage-time challenge on defender Dan Ballard as they mounted a concerted late charge.

Interim Sunderland boss Mike Dodds said: “Dan is adamant it was a penalty. My initial gut is why would he go down?”

Maresca admitted City had not played as well as they had in successive defeats by Middlesbrough, Leeds and QPR, but was delighted with their resilience as the Black Cats rallied.

He said: “At this moment, the most important thing is to win games, and also as a team probably we need to learn to win games in an ugly way like tonight.

“In the second half, we suffered a lot, but in the first half, again we created many chances especially at the beginning. We missed, but fortunately we could score with Jamie and at the end, we won the game.”

Sunderland’s fifth defeat on the trot left them closer to the bottom three than the top six in terms of points, but Dodds was adamant there are reasons to be cheerful.

He said: “They are human. They’ve lost five on the bounce, so they’re not machines, they are aware of that, I’m aware of that. But I do feel that we are one win away from putting a number of wins together.

“Unfortunately the result wasn’t the result we wanted, but I think the performance would show that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Jamie Vardy’s 13th goal of the season proved unlucky for Sunderland as Leicester ended their losing streak to strengthen their Sky Bet Championship title hopes.

The 37-year-old’s first-half header was enough to secure a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, although it took a fine save by goalkeeper Mads Hermansen to deny Trai Hume a spectacular equaliser and condemn his team to a fifth successive defeat.

Enzo Maresca’s men would have been kicking themselves had they allowed two priceless points to slip from their grasp after squandering early chances, but they had to resist a stern examination as the hosts finished strongly.

The Italian’s response to Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by QPR was to shuffle his pack with one of his four changes restoring Vardy to the starting line-up, while at the other end of the scale, Sunderland midfielder Chris Rigg was handed a first league start at the age of 16.

Leicester’s bandwagon had stalled somewhat after a run of three successive defeats, while Sunderland had lost their previous four and in the circumstances, a scrappy start to the game was perhaps not unexpected.

The Foxes were first to show when Stephy Mavididi cut inside from the left and raced away from Dan Ballard only for Luke O’Nien to get a vital touch on his cross, and it took an improbable double-save from Anthony Patterson to deny Vardy and then Yunus Akgun after Sunderland had been exposed down their right once again.

Patterson produced a fine reaction stop to keep out Wout Faes’ header from a 13th-minute Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall free-kick, but Vardy pounced to nod the rebound home.

The Black Cats started to work their way back into the game and Hermansen was sent sprawling to his left to claim Jobe Bellingham’s header from a 31st-minute O’Nien cross, but Patterson had to get down well to save Hamza Choudhury’s first-time strike as City pressed once again.

Sunderland returned after the break in determined mood with Dan Neil probing from midfield, but they were unable to pierce the blue wall which stood between them and Hermansen until Hume took aim from distance and saw the keeper tip his 64th-minute piledriver on to the crossbar.

Hume forced Hermansen into further saves with an 80th-minute attempt from distance and a stoppage time free-kick as the home side piled on the pressure, but the visitors, who sent on Wilfred Ndidi as a late substitute on his return from injury, held firm to see out an important win.

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.

Leicester’s lead at the top of the Championship has been cut to just three points with 11 games to go after relegation-threatened QPR claimed a surprise 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium.

Goals from Ilias Chair and substitute Sinclair Armstrong – who scored with his first touch after coming on just before the hour – earned improving Rangers their third successive victory.

The Foxes quickly pulled a goal back through teenage defender Ben Nelson but they could not find an equaliser as they slumped to a third league defeat in a row, with second-placed Ipswich Town now closing in on them.

The result was a valuable one for QPR, but lifted them just one place up the table and they remain outside the bottom three on goal difference.

Leicester began the game boosted by promotion rivals Leeds drawing at struggling Huddersfield, but they suffered an early blow when midfielder Dennis Praet had to come off injured after 15 minutes, Yunus Akgun taking his place.

Enzo Maresca’s side dominated possession and Harry Winks came close to opening the scoring when he curled a shot just wide of the far post from 20 yards out.

QPR full-back Kenneth Paal then stopped Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall putting Leicester ahead after 26 minutes when he turned away a cross from Yunus for a corner.

But Rangers soaked up the pressure and broke away to take the lead after 38 minutes. Chris Willock advanced on the right-hand side and found Lyndon Dykes whose cross was met by Chair and he squeezed the ball just inside the post.

Armstrong came on as a 57th-minute substitute for QPR and made an immediate impact to give Marti Cifuentes’ side a two-goal lead.

Jimmy Dunne’s header found Sam Field in the penalty area and he stopped the ball before Armstrong followed up to score with a powerful drive.

Leicester pulled a goal back three minutes later to give themselves a lifeline.

Stephy Mavididi rolled a free-kick to Dewsbury-Hall and although his shot was pushed out by Rangers goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, Leicester defender Nelson followed up to clip the ball in.

It was the 19-year-old’s first senior goal and gave his side some hope of forcing their way back into the game.

With 21 minutes left, Abdul Fatawu cut in from the right and curled a shot just over the bar, as he tried a repeat of his winning goal in the midweek FA Cup tie at Bournemouth.

But Leicester struggled to break the Rangers defence down and could not force an equaliser.

Chair had a chance of a third goal for QPR in stoppage time, but he put his shot wide with only Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen to beat.

Leicester’s final chance to level the scores disappeared when Winks had a shot charged down.

The game was reminiscent of Leicester’s previous home game against Middlesbrough when they also went two goals behind and could not recover.

But some Foxes players surrounded the match officials at the final whistle as they claimed a late penalty should have been given in their favour.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca refuses to accept that his side are all-but promoted.

A 2-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday at King Power Stadium moved the Foxes 14 points clear of third-placed Southampton.

It looks to be only a matter of time before Maresca’s side confirm their return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

But the Italian coach does not see it that way and warned his players against complacency over the next stage of the season.

“If any of my players show a drop, I will change them, even after two minutes,” he said.

“They won’t play. We aren’t changing anything, we have to keep winning and we have to respect our opponents.

“I’m very happy with this win, but now the focus moves on to Saturday when we play Middlesbrough.

“We struggled a little when they changed shape in the second half, but after about 15 or 20 minutes we were OK.

“But I wanted a third goal before half-time to make us more comfortable, if they score one they can come back.”

Jamie Vardy scored against his boyhood club and also played a part in Leicester’s opening goal after four minutes.

“Jamie showed well with two goals against Stoke and he was fighting and pressing against Watford, now he’s the player who has scored the most goals for us this season,” Maresca added.

“I am very happy with him. I felt this game would suit Jamie and the idea here was for him to start. It’s my duty to give everyone minutes, sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t, but Jamie was working well.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl was encouraged by his team’s second-half performance.

“We showed a lot more in the second half and I was happier with our reaction to going behind,” he said.

“We changed to a back five but it was more having the belief.

“There was an improvement, but against Leicester you need to be good for 90 minutes and we had one good half.

“That was the positive thing we can take from the game and I think our supporters at the end recognised our second-half performance.

“This is what we can do if we are on the front foot, the data showed that. If we could have had one goal, then maybe we can try to do something.

“At Leicester it is a challenge, but we always wanted to try to get something. We drew with them at home. We know how strong they are, they are outstanding. But we reacted better than we did against Southampton.

“What we have to do now is come to every game and take as many points as we can.”

Leicester strengthened their position at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as captain Jamie Vardy scored against his boyhood club in a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at King Power Stadium.

Enzo Maresca’s side had the game won by half-time and are now 14 points clear of third-placed Southampton as they close in on promotion back to the Premier League.

Vardy, who was released by the Owls for being too small as a teenager, also played a part in the opening goal for Abdul Fatawu after four minutes.

Vardy started a game for the first time in more than two months and, coincidentally, the last Championship game he was on from the start was against Wednesday.

But this was a genuine team display with threats from all over the pitch in a commanding performance against Danny Rohl’s struggling side.

Leicester took an early lead after a mix-up in the visitors’ defence.

Goalkeeper James Beadle’s short pass put Will Vaulks in trouble with Dennis Praet close by. The ball fell to Kieran Dewsbury-Hall who delivered a cross meant for Vardy – but his step-over allowed the ball to go through for Fatawu and he tapped into an empty net.

Wednesday struggled against Leicester’s slick style of play with Harry Winks, Vardy and Dewsbury-Hall all causing problems.

On the half-hour, Dewsbury-Hall twisted and put in a cross which defender Wout Faes could only hook over the crossbar.

But Leicester extended their lead nine minutes before half-time when a long ball from Faes found Dewsbury-Hall and he neatly set up the chance for Vardy to score with an angled drive.

It was his 11th goal of the season and made him Leicester’s top scorer.

The Owls briefly threatened to pull a goal back when Djeidi Gassama’s long-range shot was saved by Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen.

Wednesday substitute Anthony Musaba then sent a shot inches past the far post as the game passed the hour mark.

Vardy received a standing ovation when he was substituted with 10 minutes to go.

Leicester were able to play out the final minutes under no pressure, although there were some encouraging signs for Rohl in the second half.

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.”

Leicester boss Enzo Maresca is content to ignore criticism from some Foxes fans after seeing his side move 11 points clear at the top of the Championship with a 5-0 demolition of Stoke.

Doubles from Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy helped the visitors take another step toward an immediate return to the Premier League.

Daka opened the scoring with a tap-in shortly before Kasey McAteer’s deflected long-range strike doubled the Foxes’ lead.

After the restart the in-form Daka converted Leicester’s first penalty of the afternoon for a sixth goal in eight games.

Substitute Vardy then notched his ninth and 10th goals of the season, his second deep in stoppage time also from the penalty spot.

It was the league leaders’ biggest victory of the season, much to the delight of boss Maresca.

“The most important thing for me is the way that the team is getting better,” said the Leicester boss.

“I don’t like it when people hurt the players, because I know the effort that they’re doing to bring this club back to the Premier League.

“Since the start, I see the way that they’re working and I know that they’re doing everything they can.

“If some of the fans aren’t sure or convinced, it doesn’t matter to me. The performance was very good today and that experience will make us better.

“I’m very happy with the result and the clean sheet, especially with the first half-an-hour, that was very good and we played the way that we like to play.

“The last 10 minutes of the first half, we conceded two yellow cards that we needed to avoid as it could compromise the game, but that was it.

“We’re very happy and when we play away, the environment is always nice and the players and fans together enjoy the moment.

“I’ve said many times, our fans are unbelievable. At home some of them maybe aren’t convinced, but it is what it is.

“It’s important for us to have lots of options and every time we need them, they help, so we’re very happy.”

It was another dismal afternoon for Stoke, whose winless run at home now stands at nine games, dating back to October.

“We were miles off it and they were just too good for us,” said boss Steven Schumacher, who oversaw a third defeat on the spin.

“They showed today why they’re top of the league. They’ve done everything properly, but they didn’t have to work hard at all.

“We didn’t have the belief or the quality. We tried, but they had too much for us and their goals were too easy.

“We knew we were coming up the best team, this result wasn’t going to determine the outcome of the rest of the season, but the next two might do.

“I need to make sure that we respond and put in a better performance and try to get a win.

“It’s three games now with three defeats and we need to do something about it, so Blackburn’s going to be a big game at the weekend.

“We need to get the players ready for it. We have to react and we won’t go away and sulk.

“There’s a real lack of confidence at home. When things go against us or there’s a little adversity, the crowd turns against us and it affects the players.

“We have to work hard to try and change that now.”

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca admitted he did not want Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to leave, but said the player’s future was now a matter for the club.

Dewsbury-Hall scored the opening goal after only three minutes as Leicester moved 10 points clear at the top of the Championship thanks to a 3-1 victory over Swansea.

The midfielder is thought to be a January transfer target for Brighton, but Leicester want at least £30million for him.

Two goals in three minutes sealed the points for Leicester with Stephy Mavididi scoring from the penalty spot, and Yunus Akgun adding a third.

But Maresca said Dewsbury-Hall had not been affected by the transfer speculation leading up to the game.

“I don’t want Kiernan to go – ask the club if we need to sell or not,” said Maresca.

“The only way we can do something is to sell players. I don’t think that Kiernan’s future was about this game. Kiernan is a Leicester player, hopefully he can play in the next game.

“Here, he showed once again he is in love with the club, if something will happen now, I don’t know.

“He cares about the club and he has 10 goals this season, probably for the first time in his life, these kind of things, people don’t give the right importance to and it’s not a good thing.”

Maresca also sensed the frustration among the home supporters at times, even though Leicester are dominating the English second tier.

“You can feel the fans when they’re not happy, some people take things for granted,” said the Italian coach.

“We have won 26 of 34 games this season, unbelievable, a huge number.

“The only thing I can say is that people think it’s easy, but it’s not. I came to this club to play with this idea, the moment there is some doubt about the idea, the day after, I will leave, it’s so clear.”

Swansea manager Luke Williams was left frustrated as he searches for his first league win since taking over.

“Leicester are a fantastic side who played in a fantastic way, they unlocked us,” he said.

“We held our own after the first goal, but you need to be clinical to come away with anything from Leicester.

“But then it was really quite frustrating to lose concentration, the second two goals were gifts.

“We made it a little bit too easy for those goals. I haven’t seen the penalty back, but what I know is that what came before it was a lack of concentration and focus and you cannot do that against a top side.

“It’s really difficult and challenging for the players to concentrate for 96 minutes against a side posing so many questions, but if you want to compete at the right end of the division, it’ll require the players to be focused for the entire game.”

Williams admitted his first win in the Championship with Swansea could not come soon enough.

“We’ve had very tough fixtures, but it’d be lovely to get a victory for sure,” he said.

Williams said he expected to be busy as the transfer deadline approached.

“We’re going to be trying to bring the right players in, but it’s challenging,” he added.

“I hope it’s busy and I hope it’s fruitful as well.”

Page 1 of 3
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.