Emotional Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri fought back tears after England striker Jamie Vardy’s double propelled them a step closer to realising their Premier League dream.
Vardy left Sunderland’s defence for dead with two clinical counter-attacking goals to put the Foxes within three wins of cementing the club’s first ever top-flight title.
Ranieri appeared to cry at the final whistle, and though he maintains his team dare not look beyond the next game, the Italian former Chelsea boss conceded he had been moved by the occasion.
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“It’s fantastic when you see before the match a lot of old ladies with Leicester shirts outside the stadium. I said ‘Unbelievable, they came from Leicester to support us’,” he said.
“That is emotional, that is fantastic, that is football. I want to say thank you for the support. It’s unbelievable. They are amazing. They are dreaming and we want to continue to dream. But to do this, we must be concentrated.”
Victory briefly extended Leicester’s lead to 10 points, though Tottenham’s emphatic despatching of Manchester United hours later cut the gap to seven again with five games remaining.
Relegation-threatened Sunderland, meanwhile, remain four points from safety, albeit with a game in hand over 17th-placed Norwich, though they could have led before Vardy struck.
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Forward Fabio Borini went close either side of half-time,; his first effort, a deflected shot, forcing Kasper Schmeichel to save with his legs, and the second flying over.
Vardy punished that wastefulness with a measure of the opposite, darting onto Danny Drinkwater’s floated ball over the top, out-sprinting Younes Kaboul and slotting past Vito Mannone.
Sunderland substitute Jack Rodwell squandered a chance to equalise in the 82nd minute when the ball fell kindly to him in the penalty area, only to steer a rising shot over the bar.
Vardy crowned the win and took his club tally for the season to 21 with another archetypal Leicester goal, dispossessing Patrick van Aanholt before rounding the onrushing Mannone.