Claudio Ranieri couldn’t fault the effort of his Leicester City side on Saturday night, despite a 3-0 home defeat to title-chasing Chelsea at King Power Stadium.
The reigning Premier League champions stood toe-to-toe with Antonio Conte’s leaders for spells of a lively encounter, but were undone by an unlikely source as the Blues stretched their lead at the top to seven points.
Wing-back Marcos Alonso, with just one goal to his name this season prior to the trip to LE2, struck early in each half to set the Blues on the road to victory.
And Spanish forward Pedro added a third to put the exclamation point on Chelsea’s 14th win in 15 Premier League games.
“I’m happy with the performance – we tried to do our best,” Claudio said in his post-match press conference.
“Of course, I’m not happy that we conceded a goal at the beginning of the first half and the beginning of the second half, but if you take out those two goals, the match was good for us. We closed the space, we mirrored Chelsea with a 3-5-2 and it was good.
“We were expecting something special from Hazard, Pedro or Willian and maybe we didn’t expect Alonso to score the goals. But that’s football when you play against big champions.”
City remain 15th in the table, five points clear of the bottom three heading into next weekend’s trip to Southampton.
It’s the first of a series of important away fixtures for Ranieri’s men and the Italian is confident his side have the mentality needed to start climbing the table.
“The mentality is right – this team is used to fighting. Three seasons ago, they fought to win the Championship. Two seasons ago, they were in the relegation battle and they survived. Last season, we won the title. This team, these players, are used to fighting.
“I said from the beginning that we would have to look over our shoulder. From the beginning it was another Premier League for us and we’re in the battle. I said that two or three months ago.
“But we’re in good condition and I’m sure we can get some good points.”