Kelechi Iheanacho

Influential Iheanacho Shines In City's Biggest-Ever European Win

Kelechi Iheanacho scored twice and set up the third goal as Leicester City opened up a three-point gap at the top of UEFA Europa League Group G thanks to a 4-0 success over SC Braga - their largest-ever victory in European competition.
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Three days after City’s 4-1 Premier League win at Leeds United, Brendan Rodgers made four changes to his side, with Hamza Choudhury, James Maddison, Cengiz Ünder and Iheanacho all returning to the starting XI.

After only six minutes, a good piece of defending from the experienced Christian Fuchs prevented former Barcelona youngster Abel Ruiz from creating a goalscoring opportunity, as the visitors showed just why they had also won both of their opening Group G matches.

Academy graduate Choudhury, who had scored his first European goal for the Club exactly a week ago in Athens, then drilled a strike at goal that deflected over and behind for a corner as both sides traded blows in the opening stages.

More fine defensive work followed for the Foxes just shy of the 15-minute mark, with young centre-back Wesley Fofana executing a sliding tackle to perfection to dispossess the advancing former Portugal youth international Paulinho on the edge of the box.

Then came the opener, as City were able to absorb Braga’s early pressure before catching them off-guard. Fuchs’ long throw found the run of Iheanacho, who played a one-two with Maddison before darting past one defender and beating Matheus in the net for his second Europa League goal on home soil.

Provider Maddison went close to adding a second in quick succession, only for his strike to fly across the face of goal, before Denmark star Kasper Schmeichel was forced into a close-range stop from a Bruno Viana header.

The Dane once again displayed his agility on the half-hour mark, instinctively clearing the ball out of his feet after Choudhury made an attempt to intercept a long ball into the City box from the right flank.

England international Maddison’s attacking ability continued to shine through the Leicester fog as the quick-footed midfielder made space for himself before firing over the crossbar, before Matheus pulled off a wonderful fingertip save to deny the No.10 in first half added time.

A perfect start to the second half saw City double their advantage, albeit in fortuitous circumstances. Ünder’s pass into Iheanacho saw the Nigerian turn and shoot, with his strike deflecting off a Braga defender and finding the bottom corner for 2-0.

On a hat-trick, Iheanacho had another attempt on goal with 50 minutes on the clock, but this time his effort was blocked before it could trouble Matheus, while at the other end, Ruiz poked wide while under pressure as the game began to open up.

Goalscoring opportunities continued to fall Leicester’s way. First, Matheus made a smart save to prevent an Iheanacho treble, before Ünder lifted the rebound well over the crossbar from 20 yards out.

After an ambitious half-volley from Marc Albrighton flew just wide, the winger made way just after the hour mark, as did Ünder, with Wes Morgan and Dennis Praet the replacements for the Foxes.

As with many substitutions this season, Praet’s impact was an instant one. Iheanacho was slipped in on the left channel before he squared to the Belgium midfielder, who calmly side-footed home at the back post for 3-0.

Further changes followed, with Iheanacho and Youri Tielemans coming off in place of Ayoze Pérez and Harvey Barnes – the latter testing Matheus almost immediately, although the offside flag eventually went up against the England international winger.

The Foxes were not satisfied with three goals, though, and with a Club record in sight, it was another substitute, Spaniard Pérez, who played a role in Leicester’s fourth of the evening as Maddison latched onto his whipped cross before slotting home.

Braga threatened to pull a goal back in the closing stages through André Castro, but a superb block from Choudhury, who threw his body on the line, made sure of a clean sheet for the hosts. 

Major moment

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Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho converts from close range in the first period at Leicester City Stadium.

An early goal against what City knew were a threatening opponent no doubt settled the Foxes as they set about maintaining their 100 per cent record in UEFA Europa League Group G.

That strike came after only 20 minutes, when quick thinking from Christian Fuchs played in Kelechi Iheanacho, who rounded off a give-and-go with James Maddison to get his side off to a flier. 

Another from Iheanacho, plus strikes from Dennis Praet and James Maddison, eventually secured the Club record European win at Leicester City Stadium.

Who impressed?

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Leicester City
Leicester City

Leicester City's 100 per cent record in Group G continued with a success over SC Braga on Thursday.

Speaking on LCFC Radio, summariser Matt Elliott said: "I suppose one man sticks out. It’d be harsh not to give it to Kelechi. He scored two goals and got one assist and could have had a couple of others. Fair play to him for sticking at it and persevering. He’s come back strong and performed brilliantly tonight."

Where do we stand?

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Dennis Praet
Dennis Praet

Dennis Praet was assisted by Kelechi Iheanacho for the Foxes' third goal.

City now sit three points clear at the top of Group G, and a win in Portugal over SC Braga on Thursday 26 November (5:55pm kick-off) would see them secure qualification to the knockout stages of the competition.

Coming up…

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James Maddison
James Maddison

James Maddison nets a fourth goal for the Foxes as they cruise to victory over SC Braga.

A 13-day break from club duty approaches for the Foxes, but first, they will face Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers on Filbert Way in the Premier League on Sunday (2pm kick-off).

All times GMT.

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