Captain Morgan strikes to put Leicester on course for title
Defender's bullet header edges the Foxes closer to the Premier League title as they go seven points clear at the top
Leicester 1 Southampton 0.
Leicester City are closing in on history and are now seven points clear at the top of the table after a weekend on which they beat Southampton and saw second-placed Tottenham draw 1-1 away at Liverpool.
The results mean that the Foxes require four wins from their final six games, regardless of how Tottenham fare, or Arsenal, whose 4-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday kept alive their very faint hopes of catching Leicester.
In reality, the title is now Leicester's barring an implosion of extraordinary proportions in the final month of the campaign. But that looks unlikely after another 1-0 victory, their fifth win by that scoreline in their last six matches.
This time the all-important goal came from the head of captain Wes Morgan on 38 minutes, the Leicester captain outjumping Jordy Clasie to bury Christian Fuchs cross past Fraser Forster in the Southampton goal.
But it could have been a different story. The visitors came agonisingly close to going in front when Sadio Mane skipped past Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel after 30 minutes, only to see his goalbound shot blocked by Danny Simpson with the visitors claiming his hands were involved.
Other than that chance, Leicester's defensive pairing of Morgan and Robert Huth were at the top of their game, making 20 clearances between them as the home side displayed the sort of gritty determination associated with title-winning teams. Morgan embodies the Leicester story. The 32-year-old had never played in the top flight until last season, having spent the bulk of his 14-year career in League One and the Championship with Nottingham Forest. He joined Liecester in 2012 and now he is on the verge of winning the Premier League title.
Manager Claudio Ranieri later paid tribute to his side's spirit, declaring: "We worked so hard... everyone is expecting something more for us and we are in the cloud, but we have to keep concentrating."
He congratulated Morgan for his goal and singled out Simpson for special praise, his goal-blocking effort indicative of the resolve that Leicester have shown this season. "They had a fantastic chance but Simpson made a fantastic save," explained Ranieri.
Ranieri also did his best to play down the hype, telling reporters: "I don't want to think about [being] champions. I want to focus on the match. There is a chance for us to be champions this season, but we have to be professional... we are dreaming, if we fight we can do something and we must continue. It's important to stay very calm and maintain our feet on the ground."
The defeat was Southampton's first in four matches and manager Ronald Koeman couldn't hide his anger with what he saw as a shoddy refereeing performance by Michael Oliver. "For the third match in a row we don't get a 100 per cent penalty - Stoke City away, Liverpool at home, and today two penalties."
The first - what Koeman described as "the big one" - was when Simpson blocked Mane's shot, which the Dutchman believed warranted a penalty and a red card. "If it is not a handball, it is a goal," he fumed. "I don't know what they are doing. This is a big match. It is about the Premier League title and our ambitions to play in Europe."
Koeman also said Huth handled the ball in the area, but be that as it may, neither decision went the Saints way and they now lie seventh, still in with a slim shout of qualifying for the Europa League. Despite his frustration, however, Koeman conceded that Leicester are a class act, an side in his opinion that have "amazing spirit".