Michael Carrick praised Middlesbrough’s incredible spirit after an impressive 2-1 victory at Championship leaders Leicester ended a four-game winless run.

Boro completed a league double over the Foxes after Finn Azaz produced a cool finish into the top left corner from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass to break the deadlock in the 24th minute before Samuel Silvera powered home to double the lead eight minutes before half-time.

Despite Jamie Vardy finding the bottom left corner with five minutes left to play from Tom Cannon’s ball in behind, Boro held on to claim their first win at the King Power Stadium and inflict a first home defeat on the Foxes since November.

The visitors remain seven points off the play-off places and Carrick insists his side have plenty more to offer after securing just their second league victory since the turn of the year.

Carrick said: “The spirit and the will to win was there, tactically the boys understood it, the boys were so eager to carry it out, it’s not easy as we’ve taken a few hits lately, the spirit was incredible.

“I’m just happy the boys had something go their way for a change, they deserve it because they’re an unbelievable group to work with, it doesn’t surprise me.

“The players are happy without being overly happy which is good, they’re eager to bring on what’s next, there was almost a feeling we could have scored one or two more and made it a little bit easier, they had chances towards the end, but there’s a good sense that that is still not enough, we want some more.

“We played very similar to how we played at home against them, they put five across their top line, it was just different personnel and the boys did their specific jobs unbelievably well and I was really pleased they took that on board.”

Leicester missed a number of gilt-edged chances throughout as Jannik Vestergaard twice failed to hit the target from close range while substitute Vardy blazed over the bar shortly before he reduced the deficit.

The Foxes saw their eight-game unbeaten run at home come to an end although Leicester boss Enzo Maresca was pleased his side kept fighting until the final whistle despite lacking quality in the final third.

Maresca said: “It was just one of those days you have to drop points, we created many chances before their goal, we pushed until the end and tried until the end and that’s the most important thing.

“Even playing a different way we created a lot of chances, we tried to adjust and adapt, we lost a little bit of balance after we conceded the first goal and we conceded some counter attacks which we need to avoid.

“We missed the last pass, even with these things that we need to improve, we had many chances that we missed, we were close, it’s part of our season, we can’t think we’re going to win every game.

“We have 13 games, we need to win some more games to reach our target, it’s not easy, you can drop points every game in the Championship, from now on all the games are important, we didn’t drop in terms of commitment, it was a lack of quality in the last third.”

Middlesbrough claimed their first win at the King Power Stadium with a 2-1 victory over Championship leaders Leicester.

After the Foxes missed two big chances to take the lead, Finn Azaz opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a clever finish from Lewis O’Brien’s square pass before Samuel Silvera’s emphatic strike after 37 minutes extended Boro’s advantage.

Substitute Jamie Vardy halved the deficit in the 85th minute, producing an excellent finish into the bottom left corner, but Boro held on to end a four-game winless run and complete the double over Leicester.

The Foxes, who lost at home for the first time since November, are now nine points in front of second-placed Leeds – their next opponents on Friday.

The home side spurned a golden opportunity to take the lead after five minutes when Jannik Vestergaard headed Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s cross from the right into the side netting from five yards.

Leicester missed another gilt-edged chance soon after as Patson Daka somehow miscued his close-range header, sending the ball across the face of goal.

Moments later, Abdul Fatawu cut in from the right and saw his goalbound effort blocked behind by Matt Clarke.

Boro took full advantage of those missed opportunities to break the deadlock when Silvera released O’Brien in behind and the midfielder squared the ball across the box to Azaz who coolly lifted into the top left corner.

Foxes defender Ricardo Pereira then made a crucial interception as he cut out O’Brien’s square ball after Boro caught Leicester on the counter attack from their own corner.

However, the visitors doubled their lead after Stephy Mavididi played a short pass to James Justin from a throw-in and Riley McGree pounced to slip in Silvera who smashed the ball into the left corner of the goal.

Leicester searched for a way back into the game before the break as Fatawu’s shot from 20 yards dipped narrowly over the crossbar before Dewsbury-Hall saw his effort deflect over the top.

Boro could have extended their lead early in the second half when Azaz lifted a pass through to McGree and Foxes goalkeeper Mads Hermansen hesitated coming off his line only for the midfielder to carry the ball out of play.

McGree then curled a free-kick inches wide of the post from 25 yards after Wout Faes bodychecked Azaz to break up a promising Boro attack.

Leicester should have reduced the deficit when Kasey McAteer played a ball across the box to fellow substitute Vardy only for the veteran striker to blaze his shot over the bar from close range before Vestergaard repeated the feat moments later.

However, Vardy made amends for his earlier miss five minutes from time when he produced a clinical finish into the bottom left corner after racing onto Tom Cannon’s ball in behind the Boro defence.

The Foxes were unable to find a leveller as Boro put their bodies on the line to win away at Leicester for the first time since September 2001 and bring an end to the home side’s four-game winning run.

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.

Leeds manager Daniel Farke felt his side’s 1-0 victory at Championship leaders Leicester was a reward for a performance of “bravery and courage”.

Georginio Rutter’s 57th-minute goal was enough to make sure Leeds closed in on Ipswich in second place, and condemn Leicester to their second home defeat of the season.

Farke praised an impressive display from Leeds, who took the game to Leicester early on and produced what was a statement win at the King Power Stadium.

“We were brave and went for it with courage as a side who have been unbeaten for so long,” said the Leeds manager.

“It was a complex performance on the field, but we stayed disciplined and kept them to areas where they couldn’t hurt us. I believed in my players and that they could dominate the game.

“You could see the goal coming in the second half, it was a deserved win, we had the better chances.

“The only thing Georginio needed to improve was his goal tally. This was a decisive goal and a sign of quality.”

Farke highlighted the fact that Leeds’ players celebrated with goalkeeper Illan Meslier after the game.

The Frenchman produced a superb save to keep out a stoppage-time header from Leicester’s Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

“If you want to achieve something special, you need unity,” added the German coach. “That is why the players celebrated Illan’s save. He is a diamond, if he continues to produce performances like this we are definitely on the right path, I think he is the best keeper in the league.

“I also felt that Glen Kamara had his best game in a white shirt.

“For us at the moment, the table is not important. Whatever the outcome here, everything would be possible for both sides. But it was a massive three points for us, a great boost. It was a good night for us.

“But Leicester are such a good side, I’m sure at the end of the season they’ll be in a top position.”

Farke admitted he was “disappointed” to be shown a yellow card for protesting against referee Dean Whitestone’s decision to wave away appeals after Crysencio Summerville went down under pressure from Ricardo Pereira.

“It was only my second yellow card in over 200 games in English football,” he said. “I was a bit disappointed, for me it was definitely a foul. Was it a penalty or a free-kick and a red card.  He didn’t whistle anything, it was a decisive moment.”

Leicester had been aiming for a  10th successive win, but they remain 11 points clear of Leeds in third spot.

Abdul Fatawu hit the crossbar in the first half, but Leicester managed only one effort on target during the game.

“I’m happy with the performance, we expected this match in terms of intensity,” said Leicester manager Enzo Maresca.

“They are a very good team, dangerous and good technically. We cannot win all the games. Overall I am happy, defeat is part of the process. It’s a case of what we can do better, and for sure, we can do some things better.

“I felt we deserved something more from the game.”

Maresca said he felt that, while Leeds took the three points, it had been Sunderland in the previous home game that had offered more in the way of tempo.

“Sunderland were more aggressive and more consistent,” said the Italian. “They started in minute one and finished in minute 95.

“Leeds started with intensity in the first half, and they dropped in the last minutes. We were in control for the last half hour. For me, the team that showed more intensity was Sunderland.”

Reggae Girlz striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw continues to soak up compliments from her Manchester City family, as England international Alex Greenwood is the latest to praise her all-round abilities and believes the high profile Jamaican international can become the best player in the world.

Shaw, 26, has significantly impacted City Women’s team since signing with the north England club two years ago. Last season, the towering striker amassed 31 goals across all competitions which has propelled her to the pinnacle as the club’s leading scorer.

Last weekend, Shaw netted her first goals of the new Women’s Super League season with a double against Bristol City, adding to her FA Women’s League Cup goal against Everton earlier in the week.

And if manager Gareth Taylor’s sentiments about how influential Shaw is to the team wasn’t enough, Greenwood added her voice to the chorus.

“Her goal record speaks for itself, but Bunny is so much more than goals. What she brings to the team in terms of play, her work off the ball, and off the pitch – she is a top person. I think she can be the best in the world if she wants to be. She has all the attributes to be the best in the world, I know how hard she works in training,” Greenwood declared.

“It’s the reason she’s flourishing right now. She’s been really strong for us so we just need to keep feeding her, keep giving her the ball and the rest she’ll take care of. She’s a great person to be around and a really good friend of mine as well. She is someone I can demand really high standards of, and likewise she can of me and everyone else,” the 30-year-old centre back added.

Shaw first made her mark professionally with FC Bordeaux in 2019. During her time there, she scored 34 goals and won the Golden Boot, as she assisted the French club to Champions League qualification.

It came as no surprise when she moved to City where she made her mark in her first season in which she tallied with 16 goals.

Now installed as City’s point player in attack, following the retirement of veteran Ellen White, Shaw, with 24 goals in the league last term, broke the club’s record for the most Women’s Super League goals in a season.

Taylor reiterated his admiration for the Jamaican.

“I’m super proud of Bunny and all the players are. She understands the support and help she gets here to allow her to be herself. I think what she’s done is remarkable, really – to go from the first game of the season scoring and not really have a dry spell at all, maybe a couple of games,” Taylor said.

“She’s continued to score goals. She’s certainly a proven goalscorer, but it’s the types of goals she’s getting now and everything else she brings to us in the games. Her hold up play is phenomenal,” he noted.

Shaw’s could add to her tally when Manchester City visit Leicester City at King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Leicester manager Enzo Maresca says it will be impossible to keep all of his top players happy this season as he aims to take the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The Italian coach made six changes against Stoke, in what was his side’s third game in six days.

The move paid off as Leicester recorded their sixth successive Championship win that kept them top of the table.

Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring after 24 minutes before Jamie Vardy came off the bench to wrap up a 2-0 win.

Vardy had started on Wednesday against Preston, with Iheanacho coming off the bench to score.

“That’s why we try to switch them around,” said Maresca. “The other night against Preston, Kele was probably not happy to be on the bench.

“But he came on and was fantastic.

“Here, Jamie was not happy to be on the bench. But he came on and scored, and was happy.

“To be competitive, you need two players for each position so they can compete between them. In the end, we can choose one of them.

“Here we left out Wout Faes, Stephy Mavididi, Wilfred Ndidi, James Justin and Jamie.

“But they cannot think to play 46 games. It’s impossible.

“At the moment, no human being can play every game at the same level.

“Maybe next time, I’ll make six changes, we’ll lose and I’ll be wrong. But we have to make those decisions.”

Maresca accepted that Stoke had been tough to break down, as have a number of visitors to the King Power Stadium.

“We need to improve a lot because we are going to face these kinds of games many times. But we are going in the right direction,” he added.

Stoke manager Alex Neil had nine players missing through injury.

He said he wanted to take the game to Leicester in the second half, but the home side’s strength in depth was difficult to combat.

“If we’d got to half-time at 0-0, our intention was always to try and have a go,” he said.

“You can see why, when you do that, you don’t come here and go toe to toe with Leicester. Particularly when you haven’t got your strongest squad.

“But we had arguably two of the best chances in the game which fell to Nathan Lowe. He’s disappointed, but I said to him afterwards that I’d be more disappointed if they weren’t falling to him.

“If we had a stronger team, we’d get a better feel of where we are compared to them. We had a young side out.

“The minute we changed, they brought on pace at the top end of the pitch.

“Jamie Vardy’s going to cause you all kinds of problems at this level.

“But our set up was good, I don’t think they really had a chance until their goal. That was disappointing from our perspective as Iheanacho was really wide.”

Neil admitted Leicester’s dominance at this level shows no sign of weakening.

“They’ll be one of the best Championship teams in a long time,” he said.

“Just look at the stadium and the fans, and the players they’ve got. They have four internationals who’ve played for England – I don’t remember that happening anywhere else.”

Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy were both on target as Leicester stayed top of the Championship with a 2-0 victory against Stoke at the King Power Stadium.

Iheanacho scored for the third successive game as the dominant Foxes reached the 30-point mark from only 11 games and already have a 10-point cushion to third.

But, once more, Enzo Maresca’s side had to work hard for their victory against stubborn opponents, with injury-hit Stoke providing the league leaders with few chances until the latter stages.

Iheanacho broke the deadlock after 24 minutes but Leicester had to wait until the 79th minute before substitute Vardy netted his fourth league goal of the season from close range.

The result meant the Foxes recorded three home league wins in succession, without conceding, for the first time since April 2017, when Craig Shakespeare was in charge.

Maresca made six changes from Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Preston. That included former Stoke defender Harry Souttar’s first Championship start of the season.

Stoke went into the game missing nine players through injury and their bench contained two goalkeepers and two 16-year-olds.

Stoke made it clear early on that Leicester would have to work hard to break them down.

And the visitors created an early opening of their own when Bae Jun-ho raced to the edge of the area and went down under a challenge from Jannik Vestergaard, but referee Geoff Eltringham dismissed all shouts for a penalty.

Leicester took the lead through Iheanacho’s third goal in as many games.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Ricardo Pereira combined to supply Iheanacho on the left of the Stoke area, and he drove the ball into the far corner before Stoke goalkeeper Mark Travers could react.

Leicester’s command of the game was displayed when the scoreboard showed them having 90 per cent possession at one point.

Stoke had a clear chance to equalise at the start of the second half when Mehdi Leris delivered a cross for Nathan Lowe, but he mistimed his header in front of goal and watched it fly over the bar.

But Leicester almost scored their second goal of the game when Yunus Akgun’s shot from the edge of the area brought an impressive save from Travers.

Leicester eventually extended their lead with substitute Vardy being on the end of an excellent move.

Vardy had only been on the field for three minutes when he was presented with a close-range opportunity after some neat exchanges involving Dewsbury-Hall and Abdul Fatawu before Wilfred Ndidi’s final ball set up the Leicester number nine to score.

Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson believes Jamie Vardy’s winning mentality at the latter stages of his career is something that should be recognised.

Vardy, 36, made sure there would be no celebration for Pearson, who made his first return to Leicester City since being sacked in 2015.

The Leicester striker scored from the penalty spot in the 67th minute, after Wilfred Ndidi had been brought down by Kai Naismith, to secure a 1-0 victory which put Enzo Maresca’s side back on top of the Championship table.

It was Pearson who started Vardy’s King Power career 11 years ago when he made the striker the first £1million non-league player, moving from Fleetwood Town in 2012.

Vardy was the only player left in Leicester’s starting line-up from Pearson’s spell in charge.

“Whatever people think of Jamie, to still have the winning mentality he has at this stage of his career, is something that we should acknowledge,” said Pearson.

“Players like that bring qualities and standards, which you need to nurture. So to still have Jamie Vardy at Leicester is going to be a very important factor.”

Despite the result, Pearson admitted he was touched by the reception he received at the King Power Stadium.

“I can’t deny I had tears in my eyes, because it’s really good to see people again,” said Pearson, who attended the game on crutches due to a back problem.

“It means a lot. My family were here, my dad too because he used to love coming here and then going out for a smoke at half-time!

“He’s 89, I’ve got my grandchildren as well. It was a big part of our lives and it’s very touching to receive the respect I got shown. A nice story, but we still lost.”

Leicester made it three wins in successive games with a seventh league victory of the season.

This was also the first time since last October they had recorded a clean sheet at home in a league game.

“We struggled to find a goal but I was absolutely not worried because since minute one we created chances,” said Maresca.

“It was a good win. The only thing I asked them for the second half was to continue in the same way because we were good in the first half, we just missed a goal.

“Continuing the way we were playing for sure we would create more chances, and we won the game. If we continue to play in the way we play today, it’s good.”

Maresca admitted he wanted to gee the home supporters up when Leicester were trying to break down the Robins’ defence.

“It was the moment where the team was making a big effort – we needed a plus,” he added.

“We needed a little bit more. The idea was not to convince the fans, but to get them more with us because it was the right momentum to score the goal. The fans were brilliant today.

“This win was especially important because after two wins away against two important teams, you cannot relax. But this was a tricky game so I am happy with the performance. The players showed how professional and how serious they are working.”

Second-half goals from Cheyna Matthews and Chantelle Swaby led Jamaica to a 2-0 win over Sheffield United in a friendly at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Easter Monday.

In a largely scrappy affair Jamaica were fairly fluent in build-up but poor final passes denied the Reggae Girls clear opportunities. Shaw had a shot on goal that was saved and on another was put through on goal but hit the shot wide of the upright from inside the box.

The Reggae Girlz opened the scoring in the second half when Swaby headed in from a corner.

Matthews added the second after Bunny Shaw beat an onrushing goalkeeper before cutting back to an open Matthews who tapped into an empty net.

Jamaica used the match as preparation for their upcoming FIFA World Cup campaign in Australia in the summer. Jamaica have been drawn in Group F alongside France, Panama and Brazil.

Reggae Girlz striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw scored her 10th goal of the Women’s Super League season to help Manchester City Women secure a 2-0 win over Leicester City Women at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Shaw opened the scoring for City with a brilliantly placed header in the 61st minute before Chloe Kelly sealed the win in the 74th minute with her first goal of the season.

Manchester City Women are now third in the WSL table with 26 points from 12 games with a goal difference of 14. Manchester United Women and Chelsea Women are ahead of them with 28 points from 11 games, respectively.

Shaw’s 10th goal in 12 games puts her one goal ahead of Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly and four ahead of Chelsea’s Sam Kerr in the race for the golden boot.

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