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Manchester United

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The Toe Poke
 By Ben Jacobs

Riyad Mahrez up and running as Leicester enjoy dream UCL debut

Leicester City put in a near-perfect performance to beat Club Brugge 3-0 in their Champions League debut on Wednesday night. The Foxes were ruthless and arguably still had a gear to go up. On this evidence they will have no problems getting out of Group G.

Club BruggeClub Brugge
Leicester CityLeicester City
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Riyad Mahrez's brace could kickstart his season. The Algerian looked far more like his old self, even if he is yet to score from open play this term. It was also encouraging to see the Algerian link up effectively with international teammate Islam Slimani. The fact Porto were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Copenhagen was a welcome bonus, too.


The game could have been different had Jose Izquierdo handed Brugge a 1-0 lead after just a few minutes. City must use that scare as a warning in order to stay grounded. There is no room for complacency in the Champions League even if City probably only need to win the return leg against Brugge plus one victory from the two games with Copenhagen to reach the round of 16.

Manager rating: 10

9 -- Claudio Ranieri got his tactics spot on. He was forced to replace the injured Danny Simpson with Luis Hernandez and the latter used his long throw to set up Marc Albrighton for the opening goal -- Leicester's first in Europe since Muzzy Izzet scored against Red Star Belgrade in 2000.

The decision to keep Daniel Amartey in the starting XI instead of Andy King could have backfired, but the Ghanaian rewarded his manager's faith. Ranieri also played a master stroke before a ball was even kicked, claiming it is "impossible" for Leicester to win the Champions League even though the Foxes are just 50-1 shots. Saying so alleviated any pressure on his squad.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Kasper Schmeichel, 7 -- Barely had a save to make, although was a bit fortunate to keep a clean sheet after Izquierdo missed an early sitter and hit the post late on. Important not to concede after shipping four against Liverpool at the weekend.

DF Luis Hernandez, 8 -- Replaced the injured Simpson and provided the assist for Albrighton's opener courtesy of his trademark long throw. Pace of the game definitely suited the Spaniard.

DF Robert Huth, 8 -- Never troubled at the back and unlucky not to score from a header in the second half.

DF Wes Morgan, 7 -- Didn't have much to do, but will go down in history as Leicester's first ever captain to win a Champions League game.

DF Christian Fuchs, 7 -- Flawless at the back and was given far more license to charge forwards than in the Premier League thus far.

MF Riyad Mahrez, 10 -- Back to his very best. Totally controlled the game. Scored a wonderful free kick and finally converted from the penalty spot, too, after a series of woes from 12 yards.

MF Danny Drinkwater, 9 -- Solid and at times a touch audacious. Hit the target with a long range free kick and saw a spectacular dipping volley fizz just over. Given a touch more freedom and proved he is far more than just a defensive midfielder.

MF Daniel Almartey, 7 -- Responded well after a sluggish shift at Liverpool. If anything, he may prove more of a threat in the Champions League than the Premier League.

MF Marc Albrighton, 8 -- Has the honour of scoring Leicester's first ever Champions League goal after lingering in the area and taking a gamble at the back post.

FW Islam Slimani, 7 -- Still finding his feet, but Leicester's record signing showed flashes of flair and held the ball up well. Clearly has a strong understanding with Mahrez, who he set up for a curling shot that was deflected just wide. However, there remain question marks over his temperament, as illustrated by his needless shove on Bjorn Engels.

FW Jamie Vardy, 8 -- His pace caused havoc against a slow Brugge backline. Won the penalty which Mahrez scored after being fouled when clean through. Now looks totally match fit.


MF Demarai Gray, N/R -- Great experience for the youngster to get a few minutes. Will only help with his development.

FW Ahmed Musa, N/R -- Came on when the game was safe. Slimani's arrival may mean he has to get used to cameos from the bench.

FW Leonardo Ulloa, 7 -- Held up the ball well and shrewdly wound down the clock towards the end.

Ben Jacobs is ESPN FC's Leicester City blogger. Follow him on Twitter @JacobsBen.


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