‘We showed some defiance’: Dean Smith praises stubborn Leicester after holding Newcastle to a goalless draw and piling the pressure on Everton, although he admits ‘maybe it’s too little too late’ for his side
- Leicester took their survival hopes to the final day after drawing with Newcastle
- Dean Smith praised his side for their dogged, battling display at St James’ Park
- Foxes will stay up if they down West Ham and Everton do not beat Bournemouth
Dean Smith praised his players for piling the pressure on Everton after their gutsy display at Newcastle gave them a slim chance of survival.
The draw at St James’ Park means Leicester will stay up if they beat West Ham on Sunday and Everton fail to take three points at home to Bournemouth.
Leicester also kept their first clean sheet in 22 matches and could have won it late on when Timothy Castagne’s volley produced a sharp save from Nick Pope.
‘Maybe it’s too little too late but we have put pressure on Everton,’ said Smith. ‘If they draw and we win, we stay up. We’ve got a tough game against West Ham who have qualified for a European final.
‘I make no apology for setting the team up in a 5-3-2. We have not kept a clean sheet for too long and that’s why we are where we are.
Dean Smith has praised Leicester for keeping their Premier League survival hopes alive
The Foxes were forced to dig in against Newcastle but earned a hard-fought, invaluable point
‘There was a lot of talk that this would be the night we were relegated but it hasn’t been. It was a tough place to come and we showed some defiance, which was all we could do against a very good team.’
Smith sprung a surprise by leaving top scorers Harvey Barnes and James Maddison out of his starting XI, though both were introduced in the second half.
Leicester were also baffled that referee Andre Marriner was not advised to upgrade his yellow card for Bruno Guimaraes early in the first half to a red, even though the Brazilian’s pushed his studs into Boubakary Soumare’s knee.
Smith added: ‘I am a bit of a risk-taker and but if we had come and attacked Newcastle we could have been beaten by four or five.
‘Bruno could have been sent off. I don’t think anyone could have complained if it had been a red not a yellow. It was a dangerous lunge.’
The hosts hit the woodwork three times while Daniel Iversen made a number of crucial saves
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