Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri hails best performance of season

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Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri hailed his side’s best performance of the season after his gamble of starting with Jamie Vardy on the bench paid off.

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The Foxes clinched their first Premier League win for over a month with a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace thanks to Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki and Christian Fuchs’ stunning half-volley.

Victory extended Leicester’s unbeaten home record in the Premier League to 20 games, and Ranieri, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, said: “I think it’s the best performance of the season.

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“For my birthday they have given me three points against Copenhagen [in the Champions League] and three points today.

“We won and played well and the only thing I don’t like is we conceded a goal.

“This week we had a very good performance against Copenhagen and today. It was important to come back and the first 20 minutes were more difficult as Crystal Palace started better than us, but after that we grew up a lot.”

Vardy has not scored in his last 10 appearances for club and country after coming on as a second-half substitute.

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Explaining his decision to start last season’s top scorer on the bench, Ranieri said: “It’s normal because we have to play so many matches. All the matches are important and when you see Okazaki and Musa in training I have to put them on the pitch.

“It wasn’t [because of] injury. If he was injured he wouldn’t have come with me on the bench. I don’t know if he needed a rest, but when you have some good players it’s right to have a rest.”

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Defeated Palace boss Alan Pardew said: “They were good, Leicester, there wasn’t much weakness in the team and we had to work hard for everything. They definitely gave us a test and unfortunately they were better than us.”

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