Claudio Ranieri pleased with Leicester's spirit after avoiding cup exit at Derby

28 January 2017 06:24

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri praised his side's "attitude and character" after Wes Morgan's late equaliser in the FA Cup clash at Derby.

The 2-2 draw means a replay next month at the King Power Stadium but Ranieri is not worried about fixture congestion.

Morgan, the former Nottingham Forest defender, headed home with four minutes remaining when it looked like Craig Bryson's lovely individual goal just before half-time would send Leicester crashing out.

Earlier in the first half Darren Bent scored at both ends, presenting Leicester the lead with a bizarre own goal before making amends with a glancing header.

" It is very important not to lose. We fight a lot to equalise and it is important for our confidence. I am very happy with our attitude and character," said Ranieri.

"I am satisfied because it was a tough match. We started very well and scored a goal, but suddenly with their first shot they scored and they scored again with their second shot.

"We got nervous. What happened? We started the second half better and created chances, but the ball doesn't want to go in the goal.

"Finally, the skipper equalises and I think we deserved to draw the match. Fantastic."

With the Premier League champions fighting to maintain their top-flight status and the Champions League set to resume next month, arguably the last thing Leicester needed was another game but that is what they face after Morgan's header.

The two sides must do it all over again on February 8, during a month when Ranieri's team face Manchester United, relegation rivals Swansea, Sevilla and Liverpool, but the Italian would rather that than be out of the FA Cup.

"More game is not more stress, no. I think it would have been more stressful to lose tonight," he said.

While Ranieri did not mind the replay, Derby boss Steve McClaren would rather the tie had been settled on the night.

The Rams were within touching distance of the fifth round but McClaren was proud of how his Championship promotion hopefuls pushed the English champions all the way.

He said: "It was a cracking game, what a cup tie and what an atmosphere. I'm just disappointed we didn't win. Nobody wanted the draw.

"I'm so proud of the players. We showed great character after going behind but we dug in and it would have been nice if we'd hung on."

Meanwhile, McClaren is hoping the injury that forced off Will Hughes after 63 minutes is not too serious, although the midfielder is likely to miss Tuesday's Championship game against Ipswich at Portman Road.

"He tweaked his hamstring - sprinting!" said the Derby manager. " I thought Will was excellent tonight. He showed his quality and we hope the injury is not too bad."

Source: PA