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Ranieri accepts Leicester face relegation battle

5:57 am AEDT 4/12/16
Ranieri - cropped
After seeing his side lose at Sunderland on Saturday, the Foxes boss believes that the reigning champions are in a fight for Premier League survival

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri warned the Premier League champions that they are in a relegation battle after slumping to a 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Sunderland.

In a frantic second-half at the Stadium of Light, an own goal from Robert Huth and Jermain Defoe's strike put Sunderland in control, with Shinji Okazaki's reply for Leicester rendered a mere consolation.

David Moyes' side have been resurgent in recent weeks and now have three wins in four league fixtures, but Leicester are on an eight-match winless run in the top-flight.

And Ranieri acknowledged his side are in a battle to avoid the drop.

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"This moment is not the right moment for us. We wanted to get points here but of course it was a relegation battle, they won, well done to them," the Italian said.

"I said two, three weeks ago, always I look behind me. We are in the battle of relegation. For this reason we must stay calm, together and continue to work hard.

"We did our best, but it wasn't enough. We have to keep working hard in training and trust the bad moment will turn."

Moyes, on the other hand, has labelled Sunderland's display as their best of the season so far, with the Black Cats having now moved onto 11 points - just two adrift of the reigning champions.

"I thought we played well, probably the best we've played. We made a few chances in the first half but we maybe lacked that final pass. Fortunately we got the goals," Moyes, whose side are now 18th, told BBC Sport.

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"I think the performances have been growing and we've been getting better. We've been showing signs of improving in attacking and defending. I thought for the majority of the game we did that.

"It is the most momentum we have had since I've been here. We want to keep it going but we know how tough it can be."

The fixture list does not get any easier for Leicester, who host Manchester City in their next league game, while Sunderland will look to continue their resurgence in the crucial clash with rock-bottom Swansea City.