Claudio Ranieri jokingly labelled Leicester City’s hard-fought 1-0 win over West Ham as his “best moment” of 2016, despite leading the Foxes to the Premier League title last season.
Leicester defied all predictions to complete a remarkable title triumph in 2015-16, but a run of just one win in nine league matches had left them just three points above the relegation zone before the Hammers visited the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
However, Islam Slimani’s thunderous 20th-minute header and a stoic defensive showing ensured Leicester have breathing space over the bottom three heading into the new year.
And wily Italian Ranieri is now hopeful of climbing away from the danger zone after celebrating what he quipped was his personal highlight of the year.
“The best moment of 2016 – believe me – I forget what happened yesterday. The best moment is now,” he told BBC Radio Leicester. “We want to be safe in 2017. We want to grow and build a very good team for the future.
“We made a very fantastic performance, the first 30 minutes were fantastic. We closed the space very well and go on the counter-attack.”
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, felt his side paid the price for a poor start, but says West Ham would have taken a point had they been more composed in the final third.
“[It is] very, very frustrating to lose the game like this,” he said.
“They started better and deserved to score but after that we were really good. We were just missing that final touch.
“We gave everything so it is a shame and a frustration, but we played good.”
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