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LEICESTER, England, July 16 (Reuters) - Leicester City boosted their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four as goals by Ayoze Perez and substitute Demarai Gray secured a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United on Thursday.
The result left Leicester fourth on 62 points from 36 games, three ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United who were visiting Crystal Palace in a later game and one behind Chelsea in third.
Leicester centre-back Jonny Evans stressed that the Foxes were aiming to respond to a crushing 4-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth on Sunday and praised 19-year old debutant Luke Thomas who set up the first goal.
"It was very important, our heads dropped after the second and third goal the other day against Bournemouth, it was important we showed pride tonight," Evans told Sky Sports.
"Thomas was outstanding and everything he did was immaculate, man of the match without a doubt. He's been training really well and everyone has been really impressed with him."
Having won only one of their last six league games, Leicester needed a victory to get back on track in their bid to secure a berth in next season's Champions League and they delivered with a dominant performance.
Perez fired them ahead in the 29th minute with a crisp low shot from 14 metres thanks to a fine cut-back by Thomas and Gray sealed the contest in the 79th with a clinical finish after a fast break.
The Foxes missed a string of chances to win by a bigger margin as visiting goalkeeper Dean Henderson made several reflex saves while top scorer Jamie Vardy hit the outside of the post shortly after halftime.
The defeat means Sheffield United stay eighth on 54 points, two points behind sixth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers who occupy a Europa League qualifying spot, after their timid performance brought a four-match unbeaten run to an end.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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