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Leicester dig deep at West Ham for first away win

West Ham United 2:3 Leicester City

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A flying start, and a grimly determined finish, delivered City’s first away win of the season at West Ham on Saturday afternoon…

Craig Shakespeare made one change for City’s first trip to the London Stadium, with Benalouane in for Morgan, who injured his back against Sevilla.
And they got off to a great start, taking a 5th minute lead. Mahrez cut in from the right a swung in a cross that flew straight into the net, with Hammers keeper Randolph distracted by Okazaki’s attempted header.
Just two minutes later, the away end was celebrating again as City doubled their lead.
From a free-kick, Mahrez fed Albrighton on the edge of the area and his lofted flick found Huth on the six yard line, the German nodding home City’s second.

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West Ham’s afternoon then got worse when Reid pulled up while running for the ball and had to be replaced by Snodgrass.
But the home side began to get into their stride and pulled a goal back in the 21st minute.
Drinkwater fouled Antonio 25 yards out for a West Ham free-kick. Lanzini got it over the wall and just inside the left hand post with an excellent strike that left Schmeichel rooted to the spot.

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As West Ham pressed for an equaliser Antonio set up Ayew for a shot, which failed to hit the target. Then Antonio had a shot deflected into Schmeichel’s arms, before Carroll had a goal ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
Ayew then headed over when well placed, before City struck again in the 39th minute.
A Mahrez corner led to a scramble in the goalmouth, then Vardy seized on the loose ball lashing it into the roof of the net.

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Although Lanzini sent a shot narrowly wide, City took a two goal cushion in at the break.

Early in the second half, Benalouane tried an ambitious free-kick from the halfway line, but didn’t catch Randolph out as he collected it under the bar.
A fine Mahrez ball then sent Vardy in on goal, but he was off balance and sent his shot wide.
The home side began to crank up the pressure again, and Schmeichel got down smartly to tip a Lanzini’s free kick round the post.
West Ham reduced City’s lead in the 63rd minute. A Lanzini corner from the left was nodded back by Carroll at the far post, and Ayew headed home from close in.
It left a long time to defend a single goal lead, but City, now looking tried after their midweek heroics, dug deep to cling on to their precious lead.
As West Ham piled on the pressure, Craig Shakespeare made a double change in the 76th minute – Musa and Slimani replacing Vardy and Okazaki.
A minute later Carroll’s far post header forced a brillaint save from Schmeichel.
Ayew then blasted over from close in, with an equaliser looking imminent. Drinkwater cleared a Kouyate effort off the line as play became frantic.
What looked like a dislocated finger for Benalouane, held up play for a while and seemed to take the impetus away from West Ham. But they still looked certain to level in the 90th minute when Carroll found himself with just Schmeichel to beat from close range.
City’s captain for the day spread himself well and blocked the shot with a fantastic save.
City weathered six minutes of time added on, to claim three points away for the first time in eleven months.

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It was an immense performance from City and Craig Shakespeare commented: “There is no secret. I think hard work, commitment and endeavour, we showed all of them today, along with some good footballers. We scored the goals at the right time today. It gave us a foothold in the game. There is no secret. The hard work is paramount to success and we have to keep doing that.” 

West Ham: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Reid (Snodgrass 18), Cresswell (Masuaku 73), Kouyate, Obiang (Fernandes 67), Ayew, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll. Subs Not Used: Nordtveit, Feghouli, Adrian, Collins.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Chilwell 87), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Musa 76), Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs Not Used: King, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.

Referee: R East. Attendance: 56,979. 

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Leicester end 2016 on a winning note

Leicester City 1:0 West Ham United

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The greatest year in Leicester City’s history ended with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against West Ham at the King Power Stadium on Saturday…

Claudio Ranieri brought Mahrez, Drinkwater and Huth back into the starting XI (with Chilwell retaining his place) and changed formation, with Mahrez operating freely behind lone striker Slimani.
City went at West Ham right from the kick off, Slimani setting up Mahrez for an acrobatic shot that tested Randolph in the Hammers’ goal.
Two minutes later City threatened again: a well-measured Drinkwater ball sent Albrighton haring down the right and he delivered a cross that Slimani met with a header that rattled the left hand post.
West Ham began to press forward having weathered the early assault. Cresswell had a fierce shot blocked, and then saw his dangerous cross intercepted by Morgan.
Drinkwater went close with a volley in the 19th minute, and then City raised the roof soon after with an opening goal.
Albrighton sent over another fine cross from the right and Slimani’s thumping far post header went back across Randolph and into the net.

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It was the goal that City, and Slimani, desperately needed and it gave the home crowd a real lift.
City continued to press forward and Ogbonna went close to scoring an own goal as he blocked an Albrighton cross.
But as half time approached, West Ham gained control of the game and City had some defending to do. An incisive Noble ball almost set up Antonio on the penalty spot before Simpson’s timely intervention. This led to a scramble on the six yard line before Amartey managed to hack the ball clear.
The Hammers then came within inches of an equaliser when a Cresswell cross from the left was met on the half-volley by Antonio, but his effort hit the bar.
It was an end-to-end encounter now and both sides went close from free-kicks on the edge of the area. Huth’s ball-winning challenge on Payet was punished by referee Andrew Taylor. Payet’s curling effort into the bottom right hand corner was tipped away by Schmeichel.

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Gray then broke upfield on a lone raid and was fouled by Reid.
Mahrez’s free-kick was heading for the top right hand corner when Randolph got a hand to it at full stretch.
City took the precious lead in with them at the break, but knew that they faced a hard battle in the second half.
Although West Ham had more possession, they were being kept at bay by City, until a close call in the 67th minute.
Cresswell’s well-struck free kick from the right took a deflection of Chilwell, but Schmeichel managed to change direction to pounce on the loose ball.
Claudio Ranieri made his first change with 20 minutes remaining, bringing on Fuchs for Mahrez and pushing Chilwell forward.
Payet went on a run though City’s defence, but his shot went tamely at Schmeichel.

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With ten minutes remaining, City were beginning to look a bit laboured and Ranieri injected new life into the performance, bringing on Okazaki and Ulloa for Gray and Slimani. This had the desired effect and the tide turned with City now pressing forward.
Chilwell connected well with a shot from inside the area but Carroll blocked.
With five minutes remaining Cresswell crossed from the left but Carroll’s free-header went a yard wide from close in.
During six minutes of time added on, Simpson blocked Ogbonna’s header, and City had done enough to earn a very welcome three points.

It was a fitting end to 2016, as Claudio Ranieri enthused: “It is very important to get three points to close our fantastic year – it was unbelievable for us. Of course, it is very important for our table, twenty points. Forty is considered the magic number to survive relegation, and we are halfway through.
Our first thirty minutes were fantastic. In the second half we closed all the space very well and tried to score a goal. It’s important now to improve our confidence and be solid and strong.”

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Chilwell; Drinkwater, Amartey; Gray (Okazaki 80), Mahrez (Fuchs 70), Albrighton; Slimani (Ulloa 82).Subs Not Used: Zieler, King, Mendy, Musa.
West Ham: Randolph, Reid, Cresswell, Nordtveit, Kouyate (Fernandes 78), Carroll, Noble (Lanzini 57), Ayew (Feghouli 64), Ogbonna, Payet, Antonio. Subs Not Used: Adrian, Obiang, Fletcher, Quina.

Referee: A Taylor. Attendance: 32,060.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 
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Leicester make their point at Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur 1:1 Leicester City

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City battled to their first away point of the season after going behind to a very soft penalty decision at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his side with Vardy back in and Slimani left out with a slight groin strain.
Unbeaten Spurs had an early spell of pressure, Alli fired in a shot from the edge of the area following a corner but Schmeichel got down to it well.
The City keeper then made a comfortable save from a long-range Rose effort and watched Eriksen’s free-kick go narrowly wide, before City had their first chance. Okazaki got his head to a Mahrez cross but cleared the bar.
Fuchs then attempted an audacious volley from a deep Mahrez corner but sent his well struck effort just over from 20 yards.
Five minutes before the break Spurs got nearer when Walker’s cut back from the right was side-footed against the crossbar by Alli from 12 yards.
However, City were not to go down the tunnel on level terms. In the 44th minute Janssen, with Huth’s hand on his shoulder, threw himself to the ground, and referee Bobby Madley bought it. Janssen sent his ill-gotten spot-kick down the middle, just evading Schmeichel’s flailing boot.

City emerged for the second half looking purposeful, and were soon back on level terms.
In the 48th minute, a wayward back header from Wanyama sent Vardy haring down the right. He squared for Musa who slid the ball in off Lloris, picking up a knock on his way into the back of the net.
An Alli dive, his third of the game, saw Spurs awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, but Janssen’s curving effort went inches wide of the right hand post.
The same player then brushed the same post moments later with a low shot on the turn as Tottenham increased the pressure in search of a winner.
But City – with Schlupp, Albrighton and Ulloa introduced to the action – then had a very good spell of their own and Fuchs, seemingly attempting to outdo his first goal last week, attempted another ambitious voley, which went high and wide.
Spurs best chance of a winner came when Wanyama swung a cross in from the right and Vertonghen sent a firm header against the bar.
The final chance fell for substitute Ulloa, who got his head to a Fuchs free-kick but directed his effort wide.

Claudio Ranieri was happy with the first away point of the season: “This was a very big result – we need confidence at this moment – and a fantastic performance against a good team, our rivals last season. I’m very pleased. We started well; we tried to win, they tried to win, a very good match, this is the magic of Premier League football.”

Copenhagen awaits…

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Rose, Vertonghen, Son, Janssen, Wanyama (Winks 87), Dier, Dembele, Alli (Nkoudou 83), Eriksen. Subs Not Used: Vorm, Trippier, Onomah, Davies, Carter-Vickers. 
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Drinkwater, King, Mahrez (Albrighton 72), Musa (Schlupp 68), Okazaki (Ulloa 78), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Zieler, Hernández, Amartey, Gray. 
Referee: R Madley. Attendance: 31.868.

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Leicester City – Champions of Britain!

City’s pre-season friendly win against Celtic, decided on penalties after a 1-1 draw, got them a trophy and a new title…

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19 players got a run out in a keenly contested International Champions Cup fixture, which saw Riyad Mahrez adding to his stunning portfolio of goals just after the break.
Faced with three defenders he made room for himself, cutting inside before curling the ball into the far corner,
But Celtic levelled 13 minutes later when Eoghan O’Connell’s precise low shot from 20 yards found the net via the right hand post.

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A draw in this competition meant a penalty shoot-out after 90 minutes and all ten kicks found the net: with Fuchs, Wasilewski, Drinkwater, Chilwell and Okazaki all converting.

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Into sudden death, Schmeichel saved Forrest’s spot kick, leaving Amartey to step up and seal two International Champions Cup points.

After the game Claudio Ranieri tried to squash speculation about his goalscorer,
“He is our fantasy, we can work hard but he is the one that can make something happen. £100 million? Keep going, keep going… much better that he stay with us.”

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City’s next game is on Saturday 30 July, when they face Paris Saint-Germain at the Stub Hub Center in Los Angeles.

Celtic: Gordon (Fasan 62), Janko, Lustig (Ambrose 46) O’Connell, Roberts (Forrest 62), McGregor (Johansen 62), Brown (c) (Allan 75), Armstrong (Christie 75), Izaguirre, Griffiths (Rogic 75), Dembele (Ciftci 62). Subs Not Used: Fisher, Henderson.
CITY: Zieler (Schmeichel 46), Amartey, Hernandez (Huth 62), Morgan (c) (Wasilewski 62), Chilwell, Mahrez (Fuchs 71), Mendy (Simpson 46), Drinkwater, Albrighton (Schlupp 46), Gray (Musa 46), Ulloa (Okazaki 62).

Attendance: 32,658.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Victorious Leicester Crowned at the King Power

Leicester City 3:1 Everton

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Premier League Champions Leicester City were presented with the trophy on Saturday evening at the King Power Stadium, after a 3-1 victory against Everton.
The club have delighted and amazed their fans, finally winning the league in their 132nd year.
The atmosphere began to build around the ground many hours before kick-off, and an emotionally charged crowd were brilliantly serenaded by opera legend Andrea Bocelli, for whom the heavy rain obligingly held off for a spell.

Claudio Ranieri replaced the suspended Huth and Drinkwater with Wasilewski and King, Albrighton came in for Schlupp and Vardy returned to the side after his two game ban.
It only took City’s leading scorer five minutes to find the net, with Ranieri’s side showing no hint of taking their foot off the accelerator now the title had been won.

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A Mahrez throw from the right found King, who curled a fine cross into the goalmouth and Vardy popped up between Stones and Oviedo to send it past Robles with a deft touch.
The party moved up another gear.
King headed straight at Robles when well placed and then Fuchs was denied his first goal of the season with a timely Lennon block.
In a rare Everton attack Wasilewski got a block on a chance that almost fell for Lukaku.
In increasingly hard rain, Kante fired in a shot that Robles couldn’t hold, but the Everton keeper recovered to deny Okazaki a follow-up chance.
The City fans didn’t have long to wait for a second goal however. In the 33rd minute Mahrez jinked through the Everton defence on the right. Baines got a tackle in but only succeeded in teeing up King. The club’s longest serving player timed his run beautifully and produced his trademark finish from ten yards.

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City were denied another chance when Okazaki sent Mahrez through but he was hauled over by Pennington, who was booked. Mahrez then nodded over the bar in the last action of the half.

Everton had their best spell of the game early in the second half, but Niasse’s lob and Lukaku’s backheel both failed to beat Schmeichel.
Fuchs, still in search of his first goal, sent a 30 yard free-kick over and bar and also had a shot blocked by Robles, while at the other end Schmeichel produced a decent save to deny Lukaku.
Ranieri made his first change in the 62nd minute, bringing Ulloa on for Okazaki, and City made it 3-0 a couple of minutes later.

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As Vardy hared into the penalty area, Pennington clipped his heel for a clear penalty, which the England striker blasted past Robles.
The applause rang out again as Schlupp replaced Albrighton soon after this.
Vardy, in down the left fired in a low shot, but was denied his hat-trick by Robles, who got a leg to it.
In the 72nd minute Gibson took Schlupp out in the area for as clear a penalty as you could ever hope to see. Vardy stepped up again, but this time sent his effort sailing into the Kop, his hat-trick denied again.

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City threatened a fourth, but several headers from Ulloa went narrowly over. Instead it was the Everton fans, sharing the away corner with perhaps hundreds of City interlopers, who had some rare cheer when Mirallas pulled one back with two minutes remaining.
Sheer persistence, and a bit of luck, took him past Kante and Wasilewski before ruining Schmeichel’s clean sheet.
Mahrez was replaced by Gray in injury time, perhaps only to allow the PFA Player of the Year an ovation of his own.
The final whistle heralded City’s 23rd win of the season, and took them to 80 points.
The players left the field and changed back into this season’s kit, having given next season’s a preview for the game.

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Alan Birchenall brought the trophy out wearing an expression that was an absolute picture.
Then Claudio and his players filed out, onto the hastily erected presentation platform.
City fan Steve Worthy handed the trophy over to captain Wes Morgan who insisted that Ranieri had a hand on it when it was lifted into the air, the cue for fireworks, glitter bombs and a thunderous ovation from the 30,000 lucky enough to have been here on this momentous day.
It was the start of a party that would spread across Leicester and go on all night.

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2015-16 was an astonishing one for our beloved club Leicester City. One that no supporter of the club could ever have seen coming.
If the club continues to do things the right way, there is no reason why this can’t just be the beginning.
As Claudio said: “The people are dreaming. Keep dreaming.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Wasilewski, Morgan, Fuchs, Kante, King, Mahrez (Gray 90), Albrighton (Schlupp 66), Okazaki (Ulloa 62), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Chilwell, Amartey, Inler.
Everton: Robles, Baines, Stones, Pennington, Oviedo, Lennon, Cleverly (Gibson 62), McCarthy, Barkley (Osman 81), Niasse (Mirallas 62), Lukaku. Subs Not Used: Howard, Mirallas, Connolly, Besic, Dowell.

Referee: A Marriner. Attendance: 32,140.

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Leicester City clinch the Premier League title

Leicester City completed possibly the most unlikely story in the long history of English football by clinching the Premier League title on Monday night.

The 5,000-1 outsiders won the league title for the first time in their 132-year history when Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw with Spurs at Stamford Bridge.

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Eden Hazard’s equaliser in west London sparked a wild party in the streets of Leicester that lasted all night, focussed on the Clock Tower  and the Kng Power Stadium. …

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The first team squad watched the Chelsea v Spurs together, assembling at Jamie Vardy’s Melton home. By the end of the evening, he was, indeed, having a party.

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Enjoy today City fans everywhere, we have waited a long, long time and been through so much. This is beyond our wildest dreams.

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Leicester edge towards title with Old Trafford point

Manchester United 1:1 Leicester City

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City overcame a stuttering start to earn a hard-fought point against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday…

Claudio Ranieri stuck with the starting XI that beat Swansea so convincingly, but they got off to a nervy start in their quest for a victory that would seal the league title.
City couldn’t get any possession and it was one-way traffic towards Schmeichel’s goal. Rashford had a shot blocked by Huth, before the Red Devils took an 8th minute lead.
Valencia delivered a precise ball from the right that found Martial in space at the far post and his crisply struck low finish went under Schmeichel.
Five minutes later Schmeichel prevented this early setback from becoming a disaster: Fellaini teed up Lingard for a well-struck, low shot which the City keeper did well to get a hand to.
City rallied after this, and delighted their 3,000 strong (plus hundreds in the home areas) following with a 17th minute equaliser.
Drinkwater delivered a free-kick from the right, and Morgan evaded the scrum on the six yard line to nod home past De Gea.

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It was a more even encounter now, with play flying from end to end.
Rooney dragged a shot wide, Schlupp had an effort blocked by Valencia, and then Lingard and Simpson had a race to goal, but pulled each other over before Schmeichel slid in to hoof the ball clear.
City ended the half on top, with De Gea beating away Schlupp’s cross, loud penalty appeals when Rojo crashed into Mahrez, Drinkwater and Morgan both going close and 1-1 at the break was a fair reflection of the game.

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One goal could win City their first ever title, and they pressed forward.
Morgan sent a header straight at De Gea, and the energetic Okazaki sent one shot wide and saw another cleared off the line by Martial.
Lingard failed to test Schmeichel with a curling effort, while Ulloa sent a header narrowly over.
There followed a rash of yellow cards, which were to damage City more than United later on, Lingard, Carrick, Rooney and Drinkwater all being booked.
Okazaki overhead shot, on target before it was blocked, was his last action of the game as he was replaced by Gray.
A moment of Mahrez magic then saw him glide past Rojo and Carrick before sending his shot just too close to De Gea.
With Albrighton on for Schlupp for the closing stages City continued to look for the goal that would win the title. Ulloa look very tired as he chested and volleyed an effort at De Gea, he didn’t have any support in the attack as Rooney had pulled Gray over, but the United skipper escaped a second yellow.
Unfortunately Drinkwater wasn’t so lucky in the 87th minute, picking up a harsh second yellow for a very weak challenge on Depay. Fortunately, referee Michael Oliver awarded a free-kick when what little offence there was occurred on the line.

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Schmeichel got a fist to Rooney’s free-kick and the ten men continued to battle.
In four minutes of time-added-on there was only one truly scary moment – Martial, down the right, was tackled by Fuchs but the ball rolled across the penalty area… the alert Schmeichel beat Mata to it by inches.
City held out until the final whistle, the hard-earned point now reducing Spurs’ margin for error to zero.
Claudio Ranieri revealed that he might not be in the country of the big moment arrives on Monday…  “I’d like to watch the match tomorrow, but I think I’m on a flight back from Italy so it’s difficult for me to watch the match. Maybe I’ll find out when I land.
For us, it was important to show our character, our mentality. The beginning wasn’t good, but after I very appreciate our performance. We suffer all the matches because we know what we are. We know every match we have to work hard.”
That hard work could be rewarded in the most monumental way tonight, depending on the outcome of a game in West London…

United: De Gea, Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini (Herrera 75), Lingard (Mata 61), Rashford (Memphis 82), Rooney, Martial. Subs Not Used: Romero, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Kante, Drinkwater, Schlupp (Albrighton 77), Mahrez (King 88), Okazaki (Gray 67), Ulloa. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.

Referee: M Oliver. Attendance: 75,275.

 

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