'Lucky' Leicester City boss makes blunt promotion admission amid Leeds United blow

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Leeds United’s chances of a top-two Championship finish slimmed on Saturday.

Enzo Maresca admits Leicester City were ‘lucky’ to beat West Brom 2-1 on Saturday but insists Championship promotion is far from secured.

Leicester took a huge step towards a Premier League return with their first win in three games, the Foxes riding out a late flurry from West Brom to take all three points. Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy were on target for the home side with Jed Wallace the only Baggie able to finish a hatful of chances.

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West Brom hit the woodwork, missed several golden chances and saw Leicester’s Hamza Choudhury clear three efforts off the line on a frustrating day not only for Carlos Corberan’s side, but also those battling the Foxes for a top-two finish. Maresca’s side are now two points clear at the top but the manager admits luck was on his side.

“I just said to Carlos outside that today we have been lucky,” Maresca revealed in his post-match press conference. “And he said to me: ‘You have been lucky today, but in the last two games, you have been completely unlucky.’

“At the end, football is a matter of balance. What we got today, we lost in the last two games in terms of luck. It’s football. But they gave everything. Hamza was one, but Stephy, Abdul, Jamie, Kiernan. In this moment, it’s more about the desire.”

A four-point gap to third-placed Leeds United is particularly significant, given there are only three games of the season remaining. It puts Leicester in pole position for automatic promotion and two wins would guarantee a return to the top-flight at the first time of asking.

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“You can say only two when we have 10 more games,” Maresca insisted of his side needing just two wins. “But it’s two of three, so it’s not only two. We still need two wins. Now it’s a matter of recovering the energy and trying to win the next game. I said after Millwall and Plymouth, that at this stage of the season, every time you win games, you see yourself close, so you celebrate.

“We did today, we did against Birmingham, we did against Norwich. We see ourselves close, but it’s not finished. We have to finish our job and to try to get promoted. This club was relegated less than 10 months ago. You have to change many things. We are where we deserve to be and hopefully we can finish there.”

Elsewhere, Southampton’s hopes of a top-two spot all but ended after they threw away a lead to lose 2-1 at Cardiff City. Russell Martin’s side were 1-0 up for almost an hour but conceded a leveller before Cardiff won it in the 96th-minute.

Leeds go to Middlesbrough on Monday evening and victory at the Riverside would see Daniel Farke’s side climb into the top-two. With Ipswich Town not in action this weekend, a further win at QPR on Friday would put the Whites four points clear of Kieran McKenna’s side, albeit having played two games more.