Enzo Maresca delighted to see Leicester show what they are made of



Posted Sunday, April 07, 2024 by PA

Enzo Maresca delighted to see Leicester show what they are made of

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.”

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