15 Sep Foxes First
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri hailed his fantastic Foxes after a 3-0 rout of Club Brugge marked a fairytale Champions League debut.
Riyad Mahrez scored twice after Marc Albrighton grabbed the opener just five minutes in to net the Foxes’ first ever goal in the competition.
Last season’s Premier League champions were assured and composed and the scoreline reflected just how easy it was for them in the Jan Breydel Stadium on Wednesday.
They were beaten 4-1 by Liverpool on Saturday and have lost twice in the league already this season but victory in Belgium on Wednesday left Ranieri delighted.
“It was important to show the reaction after the Liverpool defeat,” said Ranieri. “I said we cannot think about the Champions League, it’s an experience for us and we hope to go through the group and play again.
“If we don’t achieve the first two positions we’ll go in the Europa League, that’s our desire to continue in Europe although the Champions League is better.
“Now we play the first match, there are another five. We played our style. They tried to find a right solution but it was very difficult. It was good for us to start our story with a victory.”
Albrighton fired in after Brugge made a mess of dealing with Luis Hernandez’s long throw and Mahrez scored a delightful free-kick after 29 minutes. The winger completed the rout in the second half from the spot when Jamie Vardy was brought down by goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle in the area.
He had missed three of his last four penalties and Ranieri admitted he wanted debutant Islam Slimani to take this one after his £29million move from Sporting Lisbon.
“If he doesn’t score, I take the neck and I crush the neck,” he joked. “He took the responsibility.
“I tried to say Slimani because he is a penalty scorer but he (Mahrez) has the personality to choose. He was a lucky man.
“Maybe the music woke him up. Maybe he is very tired of listening to dilly-ding, dilly-dong and prefers the Champions League music! He was very good.”
Awful Brugge never looked like recovering from Albrighton’s opener but they blew their best chance before the winger netted when Jose Izquierdo shot wide when clean through.
Porto and Copenhagen’s 1-1 draw also means the Foxes top Group G after the opening round of fixtures but Ranieri dismissed suggestions Leicester found their debut in the competition comfortable.
He added: ” It was never easy, if they score at the beginning it changes the face of the match. Against Brugge there was a team who wanted to react after the bad defeat and it was difficult for everyone.
“It’s a big test against everyone because with Rostov we are the only two teams never to play in the Champions League. It’s difficult to play against teams with very good experience. It’s not easy but it’s okay.
“We have started well and it gives us confidence and now we have to stay calm and put our minds to the next match on Saturday (against Burnley).”
It was Brugge’s first game in the Champions League group stage for a decade and they went close when Abdoulay Diaby hit the post in the second half, but they were already 3-0 down.
Manager Michel Preud’homme said; “Football is simple, to win a game you have to score goals and not concede too much.
“We failed in the two because after two minutes we could have scored and the game was totally different. On the other side we give three goals away.
“The possibilities they created weren’t too many in the game. We have to perform better defensively and offensively if we want to win that kind of game.”