Leicester manager Enzo Maresca was impressed with the way his side coped with a stern challenge as they edged to a 2-0 win at Norwich to maintain their excellent start to the Championship season.
Maresca’s team have now won six of their seven league games to lie second in the embryonic table but they were made to work hard for their success by a home side who had won all their games at Carrow Road before this one.
Kelechi Iheanacho and Kasey McAteer struck for the Foxes.
“I am very pleased with our performance because of the opponents we were up against,” he said.
“I have watched all their games and they usually score goals – 15 I think – so I am very pleased to come away with a win and a clean sheet.
“We had to work very hard for the points – I said to the lads afterwards that you can work on the way you play, the way you defend but you also have to have the desire out there on the pitch.
“The way the team defended was unbelievable, clearing the ball from corners and second and third phase play and that made all the difference tonight.”
Maresca made five changes to the side that won at Southampton last time out, with Jamie Vardy and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall among the players left on the bench, and he was delighted with the way the new-look line-up coped.
He said: “It’s a 46-game season and you can’t just rely on a small group of players. You need at least 20 and I want to get them all involved. You can’t just play in every game.
“It was tough because they went man for man, which meant our keeper (Mads Hermansen) saw a lot of the ball and he played an important role for us when we played out, and he also made a great save – I think he is the complete keeper.”
A tight match was settled by late goals in either half, with Leicester getting their noses in front in the 44th minute through Iheanacho’s penalty.
Referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot when Stephy Mavididi went down under a challenge from Christian Fassnacht and Iheanacho did the rest, despite a valiant effort from keeper Angus Gunn.
The Foxes had to withstand plenty of pressure after that, with Hermansen making a terrific reaction save to keep out a close-range header from Shane Duffy and Kenny McLean hitting the underside of the crossbar with a well judged chip.
But a well drilled defence stood firm and Leicester sealed the points in the 87th minute when Dewsbury-Hall squared for an unmarked McAteer to tap home.
Norwich head coach David Wagner felt hard done by afterwards.
“We are obviously disappointed to lose but I am fine with the performance – it was top class,” he said.
“I am unhappy we twice gave the ball away in the lead-up to the penalty but apart from that I am very pleased with the way we played.
“We were the better side in the second half and created three or four very good opportunities but unfortunately we were not clinical enough. The lads battled hard, never gave up and in the end were beaten by a quality side so we move on.
“I think Leicester will finish top this season and the rest of the teams will be battling for the other positions. It’s tough to take but I have every faith in this group of players going forwards.”
Striker Ashley Barnes limped off early in the second half and Wagner added: “It looks like knee ligaments and we will know more after a scan tomorrow. Hopefully it is not too serious but we have strength in depth now which is good.”