Wesley Fofana

Special Fofana Goal Sends City Into UECL Quarter-Finals

Leicester City reached the quarter-finals of European competition for the second time in their history after a 3-2 aggregate victory over Rennes sent them into the last-eight of the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday night.
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The return of France youth defender Wesley Fofana headlined team news after he made his first start of the season following his recovery from a fractured fibula. He was one of four changes from Sunday's fixture at Arsenal, with James Justin, Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi also returning. Boubakary Soumaré missed out through injury, while Çağlar Söyüncü and Patson Daka were absent after picking up mild illnesses.

Decked in all blue, with 1,100 away supporters making themselves heard in the vociferous Roazhon Park, the Foxes repelled early pressure from Les Rouge et Noir, with Fofana a commanding presence in the opening few minutes. 

Rennes continued to dominate, though, and when Martin Terrier squared the ball from Benjamin Bourigeaud, the forward was able to halve the aggregate deficit. In the build-up, Marc Albrighton took a knock, and was eventually replaced by Ademola Lookman on 12 minutes. 

A huge opportunity to restore parity followed when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall won the ball in midfield and released Kelechi Iheanacho. The Nigerian played in Harvey Barnes, whose deflected strike was saved by Doğan Alemdar, and Iheanacho couldn't convert the rebound.

Lovro Majer struck the Leicester wall with a free-kick with 19 minutes gone as Rennes continued their pressure, while a swift break from City was cut short following a foul on Dewsbury-Hall around 40 yards from goal. 

Alemdar had to race off his line with 26 minutes gone, when Tielemans lifted a delightful pass into the path of Iheanacho, who couldn't quite get there. Substitute Lookman struck wide not longer after, via the body of goalscorer Bourigeaud. Tielemans blasted over from the resulting corner as City began to stamp their authority on the match.

The hosts were able to control possession during the opening 45 minutes, and were a goal up at the interval. A big second half awaited in Brittany, where Leicester's mettle would be tested.

Four minutes into the half, Alemdar pulled off a huge save to deny Amartey's point-blank header. The second corner came seconds later, and this time, the Foxes were successful as Fofana, on his return, glanced in Lookman's corner to spark emotional celebrations. His first goal for Leicester, and what a significant one it proved to be.

'We're on our way' roared from the away end as Barnes' deflected attempt fell to Tielemans, who tested Alemdar, although the Rennes stopper was able to make a comfortable save. Ndidi's tackle on Gaëtan Laborde at the other end was clean, however the Nigeria midfielder injured himself in the process and was eventually unable to carry on. James Maddison was his replacement. With 30 minutes to go, City led 3-1 on aggregate. 

Alemdar parried Luke Thomas' dangerous pass to safety not long after, then Lookman's pass to Barnes was cut out as City's counter-attack broke down. With 17 minutes to play, Iheanacho had a goal disallowed for offside.

The tie was still in the balance, and a goal either way would define the narrative of the closing stages. That goal went to Rennes, with Flavien Tait the scorer via a deflection to set up a tense final 15 minutes in France. 

That prompted Brendan Rodgers into two further changes, with Ricardo Pereira and Jannik Vestergaard replacing Lookman and Fofana. Seconds later, a flick-on from Iheanacho located Barnes, who drilled low into the side-netting.

A quite remarkable save, with just five minutes to go, from skipper Kasper Schmeichel kept City 3-2 in front on aggregate, as the Denmark international spread himself to somehow turn over substitute Sehrou Guirassy's close-range attempt.

As six minutes of added time was signalled by the fourth official, there was relief for the Foxes as Baptiste Santamaria smashed narrowly wide from 10 yards out. Vestergaard then threw himself in the way of a shot. Rennes were pressing, City were resisting.

A heavy challenge on Barnes, and then a push on Justin, interrupted play deep into injury time, as bookings were handed out to men in red. Tensions grew after the full-time whistle, however it was the men in blue who'd progress despite a slender 2-1 loss on the night.

Major moment

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Wesley Fofana & Brendan Rodgers

Leicester goalscorer Wesley Fofana races over to his manager to toast his headed goal.

If Wesley Fofana's return to the squad wasn't significant enough, a goal to mark his comeback transpired to be monumental to the Foxes' progression into the quarter-finals.

A gap of 225 days had passed since he first picked up his injury in August, and it was clear, with the entire travelling squad of players and staff joining in, that the header meant a great deal to the Frenchman.

Who impressed?

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Wesley Fofana

Young Frenchman marked his return with a huge goal for the Club.

Speaking from the pressbox at Roazhon Park, Matt Elliott told LCFC Radio: "Wesley Fofana came back from injury, and he was thrown in at the deep end in a high profile game. The way he came back in, he was bossing things - organising, cajoling, dictating. He didn’t put a foot wrong, and got the goal. What more do you want for a Man of the Match?."

Where do we stand?

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Youri Tielemans

Youri Tielemans leads the celebrations with the 1,100 travelling Foxes fans.

City will discover their quarter-final opponents on Friday afternoon, when the draw for the last-eight and last-four is conducted in Nyon.

Coming up...

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Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

A moment to savour for Brendan Rodgers at the full-time whistle.

A Premier League encounter with Brentford follows on Sunday (2pm kick-off) ahead of the final international break of 2021/22.

All times GMT.

Leicester City Crest

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