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Leagues: Champions League

Euro stars Leicester look to boost survival bid

London (AFP) – Leicester will feed off the momentum from their dramatic Champions League victory over Sevilla as they return to the battle for Premier League survival at West Ham on Saturday.

After overseeing Premier League victories over Liverpool and Hull following the shock sacking of Claudio Ranieri, Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare led the Foxes into the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday as their campaign of wildly contrasting fortunes continued.

Such was the euphoria surrounding their 2-0 victory over Sevilla in the last 16, their perilous position just three points above the Premier League relegation zone was forgotten, for a few hours at least.

But Shakespeare is preparing to bring his players back down to earth by preventing them watching the quarter-final draw, which could see them pitted against European giants including Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

“We will be training. We will find out when we go back in after training,” Shakespeare said.

“We want to train as normal and the preparation has to be for the West Ham game.

“Depending how long it goes on for, we will be out training because we are travelling down to West Ham afterwards. There will be plenty of time for us afterwards to get word of who we are playing.”

Shakespeare also defended Leicester striker Jamie Vardy against allegations of cheating from Sevilla’s Samir Nasri.

Nasri was dismissed for a second bookable offence after the pair went head to head and later accused Vardy of cheating by exaggerating the clash.

– Naive –

But Shakespeare said: “Jamie’s not a cheat and never has been, never will be. I think Jamie responded well to the comment and we have to put it to bed. 

“The game has gone, the referee made his decision and we have to move on.”

Leicester have lost the services of Molla Wague, with the on-loan Udinese defender ruled out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder.

Meanwhile, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said he had been impressed with Vardy’s performance against Sevilla as the striker continues his resurgence after a lacklustre first half of the season.

“It was Vardy from last year,” Bilic said. “It was like a copy and paste performance. 

“It was not only him, but the strikers set the tempo with pressing and timing. It was not only against Sevilla. It was also straight away against Liverpool. 

“He looked brilliant like Vardy from last season in his general performance. 

“That Nasri thing happens in football. Nasri was naive to get in that trap. Unfortunately for Nasri it was his second.”

Bilic remains adamant that Ranieri, who led Leicester to the title last season, was unlucky to lose his job despite the significant improvement overseen by Shakespeare.

“I still don’t understand it,” he said. “But if you are talking about the performances and results, they are getting the results they wanted. 

“Still, for me, it was a bad decision because we are talking about Claudio Ranieri who did everything very recently with them.

“But it’s the nature of the job. You are the first one to pay the price. 

“Unfortunately, now, nobody can say it’s the wrong decision because at least these three results are brilliant for them and they look different.”

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