Leicester 'dreaming' of title after win over Southampton

(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) - A year to the day since being seven points from safety at the foot of the Premier League and facing relegation, Leicester City moved seven points clear at the top of table when they beat Southampton 1-0 at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

"We are dreaming," declared Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri after watching his team, 5,000-1 outsiders to win the title at the start of the season, secure a fourth straight 1-0 victory thanks to a first-half header from captain Wes Morgan.

The win moved Leicester on to 69 points with just six matches remaining, seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who drew 1-1 at Liverpool on Saturday.

Arsenal stayed third, moving on to 58 points after their 4-0 win over Watford on Saturday with Manchester City remaining fourth on 54 points after their 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

Manchester United stayed in the hunt for a top-four finish when they beat Everton 1-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday to move into fifth place on 53 points with Anthony Martial scoring the winner early in the second half.

Arsenal, City and United all have one game in hand on Leicester but if the Foxes win four of their remaining games, they cannot be caught and will complete one of the most remarkable stories in the 128-year history of the English League.

Leicester's best-ever finish was as runners-up in 1929 and the last time they made any kind of push for the title was in 1963 when they finished fourth and were beaten in the FA Cup final.

Yet after beating West Ham a year ago this weekend to begin their revival and avoid the drop, they have not looked back.

LEICESTER DREAMING

"We are dreaming. If we fight, we can do something and we must continue. It's important to stay very calm and maintain our feet on the ground," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri told Sky Sports.

"Clean sheet, three points, step by step. It's fantastic because we know very well Southampton came here with a lot of confidence.

"I said to the players, it's the chairman's birthday, he needs a special present from us."

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman was not in such a giving mood afterwards.

His side should have taken the lead six minutes before Leicester scored when Saido Mane rounded keeper Kasper Schmeichel then saw his shot hit the arm of Danny Simpson who cleared the ball.

Koeman was convinced his team was denied a penalty and he also thought Simpson should have been sent off.

"For the third match in a row we don't get a 100 percent penalty -- Stoke City away, Liverpool at home, and today two penalties.

"The big one is when Sadio Mane's shot hits Danny Simpson and it is a red card and a penalty.

"If it is not a handball, it is a goal. I don't know what they are doing. This is a big match. It is about the Premier League title and our ambition is to play in Europe."

Sunday's late match saw United win a forgettable encounter against Everton although the second half was better than a dire opening 45 minutes.

Martial struck the winner at the far post when the Everton defence failed to clear a ball whipped across their goalmouth, and apart from the goal the only other notable thing that happened came before the kickoff.

Fans of both clubs gave Bobby Charlton, 78, a warm salute as United's record scorer, marking 60 years since his United debut, took a bow on the Old Trafford pitch as the South Stand was re-named the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand in his honour.

(Reporting by Mike Collett, Editing by Ian Chadband)

Source Reuters

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