Puel defends selection after Leicester suffer shock exit

Claude Puel defended his team selection after Leicester crashed out of the FA Cup at Newport.

Padraig Amond’s 85th-minute penalty after Marc Albrighton had handled secured Newport’s shock 2-1 victory, and saw Leicester become the highest-profile Premier League casualties on third-round weekend.

Leicester manager Puel – who was sharply criticised for naming a weakened side when the Foxes suffered a Carabao Cup quarter-final exit to makeshift Manchester City opponents last month – had made seven changes from the side which won at Everton on New Year’s Day.

England internationals Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell were among those missing, but Puel said: “I think we had a good team with eight who played winning the title with Leicester, and a lot of experienced players and quality on the pitch.

“I think we had enough quality on the pitch to qualify, I don’t want to look for excuses about this.

“I think we lost together, we are all together disappointed and frustrated after this game, because it was an objective for us. This competition was important.”

Amond’s coolly-struck winner came just four minutes after Rachid Ghezzal appeared to have spared Leicester’s blushes with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.

Leicester had trailed from the 10th minute, Jamille Matt heading home Robbie Willmott’s superb cross, and the Foxes passed up several opportunities to equalise before Ghezzal’s strike.

“We had a lot of chances in the first half, second half sometimes without the clinical edge, sometimes unlucky,” Puel said.

“We did the most difficult thing to come back into the game with a goal from Rachid.

“Of course it’s harsh to concede this penalty just at the end. It’s tough.

“A lot of disappointment and frustration, but it’s a cup game and we didn’t find the solution to score more goals.”

Newport, 13th in Sky Bet League Two and 74 places below Leicester on the football pyramid, knocked out Leeds in the third round last season and held Tottenham at home before losing a Wembley replay.

But this was the first time the Welsh side had beaten top-flight opposition in the FA Cup since downing Sheffield Wednesday in 1964.

Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn saw his Newport side secure a famous win (Nick Potts/PA)

“How they can raise these levels is amazing,” manager Michael Flynn said of players who have not won a league game since the end of November.

“It has to be up there with the best win in our history.

“The second half I felt quite comfortable. But once they got back to 1-1 you do worry, can you hang on?

“I said ‘let’s go for it’ and we went and got that penalty. I’ve got so much respect for these players.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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