Hamza Choudhury

Foxes Battle To Second UEL Win With AEK Athens Triumph

A 2-1 success over AEK Athens at the impressive Athens Olympic Stadium on Thursday evening saw Leicester City make it two wins from two in UEFA Europa League Group G.
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For City’s second European fixture of 2020/21, Brendan Rodgers made five changes to his side, as Marc Albrighton, Wes Morgan, Hamza Choudhury, Cengiz Ünder and Jamie Vardy all came into the starting XI following the 1-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday.

Both Morgan and James Justin had to be alert in the opening stages, with the captain first nodding clear at the near post before City’s No.2 tracked back to cut out a pass aimed at Croatia international Marko Livaja.

On 15 minutes, attacking midfielder James Maddison, who opened the scoring against Zorya Luhansk in Leicester’s first Europa League match, drilled agonisingly wide of Panagiotis Tsintotas’ right-hand post.

Just two minutes later, City were awarded a penalty, with goalkeeper Tsintotas bringing down Vardy inside the penalty area. The No.9 was typically clinical from 12 yards, powering into the net to open his European account for 2020/21 on his maiden Europa League appearance.

A chance for 2-0 followed five minutes after Vardy’s penalty, after a lovely exchange of play resulted in Ünder having a low effort denied by Tsintotas, who collided with his own defender shortly after and required some treatment.

At the other end of the field, Kasper Schmeichel produced a brilliant save to deny Livaja, whose flicked header from six yards out looked to be heading into the top corner before the Dane clawed it away.

Attacker Livaja continued to threaten and when he pounced on a loose ball just before the half-hour mark, he carved out a one-on-one opportunity for himself, only to fire across goal and wide of Schmeichel’s upright.

But City were able to absorb the AEK pressure before hitting back to extend their advantage. Maddison’s corner went all the way through to Choudhury at the back post, and the Academy graduate was on hand to calmly side-foot past Tsintotas on 39 minutes.

Another European first arrived at the start of the second half, as former Austria skipper Christian Fuchs made way for Luke Thomas to make his European debut for the Football Club, and the left-back nearly created an opportunity 45 seconds into his Europa League bow, but his cross was just too quick for Vardy.

However, AEK had a goal back in the 49th minute when substitute Muamer Tanković, on at half-time, latched onto a pass over the City defence and slammed into the net to halve his side’s deficit.

Swede Tanković nearly levelled matters not long after, but thankfully, he blazed over the bar after being put under pressure by the onrushing Schmeichel and City repelled the hosts' advances on that occasion.

A comfortable save from Tsintotas followed on 54 minutes, with the AEK stopper holding onto Ünder’s effort from range, before Choudhury and then Vardy had strikes parried shortly after following a scramble in the penalty box.

Ünder went perilously close to netting City’s third of the evening with 65 minutes on the clock, curling onto the post with Tsintotas well beaten.

That proved to be the Turkey international’s last act of the evening as he made way in a double change that included the introductions of Dennis Praet and Papy Mendy, while Kelechi Iheanacho and Harvey Barnes came on shortly after.

The substitutions upset AEK's forward rhythm, and with City standing strong at the back, it provided them with chances to hit the hosts on the counter-attack.

It was substitute Praet who launched one with seven minutes to play, but he couldn't work enough room to pull the trigger while positioned on the right-hand side of the AEK area.

In the closing stages, City were defensively sound, and successfully prevented the hosts from creating any real clear-cut chances to take six points from their first two European games.

Major moment

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Hamza Choudhury

Hamza Choudhury converts at the back post to make it 2-0 in Athens.

The game still hung in the balance despite Jamie Vardy’s penalty kick, with AEK Athens creating opportunities either side of the opener at the Athens Olympic Stadium.

That made Hamza Choudhury’s maiden strike in European competition even sweeter, providing a two-goal cushion for the Foxes in the Greek capital.

Choudhury’s goal, coupled with Kasper Schmeichel’s point-blank save from Marko Livaja just moments prior, were two hugely important actions in the match.

Who impressed?

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Wesley Fofana

The young Frenchman delivered another assured performance for the Foxes.

Speaking on LCFC Radio as a summariser, Foxes legend Matt Elliott said: “There were good performances throughout, steady performances. I'm going to pick out [Wesley] Fofana. He was pretty impressive in the back three. Wes Morgan as well, hats off to him, but Fofana stood out for me.”

Where do we stand?

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Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas came off the bench at half-time, replacing Christian Fuchs to make his European debut.

After winning both of their opening Europa League fixtures, City sit first in Group G, level on six points with SC Braga, who beat Zorya Luhansk 2-1 in Ukraine. 

Coming up…

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Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy comes off in the second half having scored the opener from the spot against AEK Athens.

City’s attentions will now turn to Monday evening’s Premier League encounter with Leeds United at Elland Road (8pm kick-off), while they contest their third Europa League fixture three days later against SC Braga at Leicester City Stadium (8pm kick-off).

All times GMT.

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