Cape Town - Claudio Ranieri pointed to Gary Cahill's first-half stoppage time goal as a key moment for Leicester in their EFL Cup extra-time loss to Chelsea on Tuesday evening.
The Foxes had raced into a two-goal lead through Shinji Okazaki, but Cahill pulled one back for his side moments before the half-time whistle to give the Blues a way back into the contest.
A renewed Chelsea then emerged after the break, with Cesar Azpilicueta levelling the game with just five second-half minutes played.
And while Leicester held out for the remainder of the tie, the sending off of defender Marcin Wasilewski, for a second yellow card, on 89 minutes, swung the tie in Chelsea's favour.
Speaking after the match, Ranieri told the club's official website: "I am happy with our performance until 2-0. We started very well, put them under pressure and we were in control of the match.
"Chelsea had more possession, which was normal, but we were very smart and clever to score twice through Shinji Okazaki. He anticipated twice, one with David Luiz and the other the goalkeeper.
"I think the key was when we conceded a goal from the last corner of the first half. We lost two dangerous men, Luiz on the first post and Gary Cahill at the back post. From that point something changed because I put so many new players and they don’t have 90 minutes.
"The second key was when Wasilewski was sent off. At that point they scored again and it was difficult for us. I hoped to keep it to 2-2 in extra time until the end. I told the players to stay together and close the space. But Fabregas scored twice again and it was very difficult for us."
Despite the loss, Ranieri was full of praise for Okazaki: "Shinji was very determined. It is good because between Shinji and (Leonardo) Ulloa they want to fight to have a chance.
"For us that is good. And also I watched Jeffrey Schlupp come back after his injury, Ben Chilwell, Demarai Gray and Ahmed Musa must understand much better the Premier League, but it is okay. For me it is important to develop all the squad and not just the 14 players. We have a chance to go through to the next round but it wasn’t possible, but it is okay.
"Of course now we have to work more and more to give them 90 minutes because when I need them they must be fit 100%."