Claude Puel "encouraged" by Leicester display in draw at Stoke despite leading twice

Claude Puel "encouraged" by Leicester display in draw at Stoke despite leading twice

Claude Puel felt there were positives to take from his second match as Leicester City manager as the Foxes drew 2-2 at Stoke City on Saturday afternoon despite calling it "difficult" to accept the result.

Charlie Malam

Claude Puel felt that Leicester City's performance in their 2-2 draw at Stoke City was "encouraging" despite admitting the frustrations of twice squandering a lead.

Vicente Iborra's powerful half-volley at a corner put the Foxes ahead in the first-half but Xherdan Shaqiri levelled only six minutes later after exploiting a gap in the visitors' back-line.

Riyad Mahrez's excellent solo goal put Puel's charges back in front at the bet365 Stadium on the hour, but Leicester were once again pegged back as Peter Crouch headed in four minutes after coming on to force a draw.

Puel - overseeing his second game as Leicester boss after beating Everton on Monday - declared it disappointing not to have won in the Potteries but chose to focus on the positives of their display.

Puel calls it "difficult" to accept a draw

He told journalists at his post-match press conference: "I suppose [it's a bit frustrating]. I think our first 20-25 minutes was not enough good in terms of intensity of  the passes, it was slow, it was not enough.

"After it was interesting to see my players correct this. We played with good fight and good attitude and we played forward and this is very important. I think we have had a lot of chances today, that's a good thing of course.

"We were winning 1-0, [and then] 2-1. It is difficult perhaps to accept this draw. I don't know if this draw is a fair result but we could've lost with the last action, the last chance for Stoke, without the fantastic save of Kasper [Schmeichel].

"I think it's an encouraging game because we have had a lot of chances, away, that's a good thing.

"It's a good opportunity to work on this and correct some details ahead of another game against an important opponent like Manchester City."

Algerian winger Mahrez was particularly influential for Leicester after being moved back to his usual right-side role. He had operated behind Jamie Vardy against Everton earlier in the week.

The former PFA Player of the Year produced a glimpse of his best with a fine individual run for the second goal, beating Erik Pieters and Kevin Wimmer before firing low beneath Jack Butland.

On Mahrez's performance, Puel said: "It was very interesting, without the ball, with the ball. It was a good structure without the ball. He worked hard on the pitch.

"He had good quality and a good possibility to make good penetration but also to give a good ball and play with a good tempo.

"This was very important and we know that we can be clinical every time [we go forward]. This is very interesting for the future.

"It's a good thing to build together this momentum and improve together. It's a good game for the future."

Puel not overly concerned by Iborra injury 

Puel also acknowledged the difficulty of stopping Crouch, who scored his 52nd headed goal in the Premier League - six more than any other player, including the top-flight's record top scorer Alan Shearer and caused Leicester trouble in the final stages.

The Frenchman admitted: "We know Peter Crouch is always difficult to defend against.

"Of course at the end, the last minute, it is difficult with plays and free-kicks against us, second balls. We saw that with the last chance. But it is difficult sometimes.

"It's difficult to accept this draw, there is a little bit of disappointment, but I think it is encouraging game for the future. We had a good attitude, a lot of chances away like this, and I'm happy with this."

Goalscorer Iborra had to be withdrawn on 66 minutes after picking up a knock to his ankle, though did not need a stretcher to be assisted down the tunnel.

"I think it's not bad," the Leicester manager said of the midfielder's injury. "We will see in the next days. We have an international break now. 

"It will also be difficult to try and correct something without many players because of all these international players.

"It's difficult to work hard together of course with the training pitch [without them] but it's also a good thing because Leicester have good international players and it's a good thing for the future."