Youri Tielemans says Leicester must improve on their disappointing 1-1 Premier League draw at 10-man Southampton as they go into five “huge” games seeking Champions League qualification and FA Cup glory.
The Foxes had to settle for a point at St Mary’s, despite Saints defender Jannik Vestergaard being sent off just 10 minutes in for denying Jamie Vardy a goal-scoring opportunity.
Jonny Evans’ 68th-minute equaliser edged Leicester eight points clear of fifth-placed West Ham in the race for the top four after James Ward-Prowse’s penalty put the depleted hosts ahead.
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Brendan Rodgers’ men have a further four Premier League fixtures to seal their return to European football’s premier club competition, either side of an FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Midfielder Tielemans called for greater intensity during the run-in as he issued a rallying cry to his team-mates.
“We have a few games in hand where we can finish the job, but we have to be better than this,” the Belgium international told his club’s website.
“We know that every game is a huge game for us. (Friday) was a huge game as well. We didn’t play well enough to win the game.
“It’s frustrating because they were down to 10 men very early in the game, so I thought that we could have had a better chance to win the game.
“But they showed resilience and we didn’t play to our best. It was a very tough night.
“We didn’t play quick enough and we weren’t precise enough on the ball in our passing. Our decision making made it very difficult.”
Leicester pushed hard for a winner following Evans’ headed leveller but were thwarted by heroic Southampton defending.
The Foxes dropped out of the top four on the final day of last season following a poor run of form and will be desperate to avoid a repeat ahead of fixtures against Newcastle, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Vestergaard’s early dismissal was the major talking point of Friday evening’s contest, with Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl unhappy with the decision and planning to appeal.
Referee Robert Jones brandished a red card following advice from VAR Jonathan Moss after Denmark international Vestergaard won the ball from Vardy but caught his opponent on the follow through as he desperately attempted to regain possession on the edge of Saints’ 18-yard box following a sloppy mistake.
The early setback prompted Hasenhuttl to bring on defender Mohammed Salisu as part of a premature reshuffle.
Substitute Salisu overcame the restrictions of Ramadan to produce a colossal performance and, having endured an injury-hit first season on the south coast, has been tipped for a bright future.
“Salisu was fantastic. He was a warrior in defending,” said Austrian coach Hasenhuttl, whose side moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
“He has, at the moment, a problem with Ramadan. During the day they can’t eat and you’re wondering if they can fight with a performance but he showed that he has been able to do it.
“He had this little break when the sun went down and then he was fighting.
“Against the ball he has big strengths and with it he is getting better, but this is part of the game.
“I am sure that he will be a good player for us in the future.”