Riyad Mahrez

Eight Magical Mahrez Moments To Remember

Riyad Mahrez brought a skilful sense of style to Leicester City seldom seen before - either at Filbert Street or King Power Stadium - across his four-and-a-half years with the Club.

The Algerian wizard, signed from French outfit Le Havre in January 2014, arrived in the East Midlands as an unknown quantity, but leaves etched into history as one of the greatest Foxes players of all time. 

Mahrez scored three goals in the Sky Bet Championship as City booked a record-breaking promotion to the Premier League under Nigel Pearson before adding another four strikes during the greatest ‘Great Escape’. 

But it was in the 2015/16 season, a year no Foxes fan will ever forget, when Mahrez made headlines across the globe, scoring 17 goals as Claudio Ranieri masterminded an historic Premier League title. 

Naturally, Mahrez received a host of individual honours in recognition of his role in perhaps the greatest sporting achievement of all time. 

These included the PFA Player of the Year, the CAF African Footballer of the Year and a seventh-placed finish on the Ballon d’Or vote – all accolades no City player had ever received or bettered in the Club’s history. 

His magnificent performances continued, especially in Europe, as City topped Group G during their maiden UEFA Champions League campaign, eventually exiting against Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals. 

Last term, meanwhile, the Algeria international was once again a key figure for Claude Puel’s men, adding another 13 goals to take his overall Leicester City tally to 48 in 179 appearances. 

As Riyad moves on, we’ve rolled back the years to highlight some of our favourite Mahrez memories - from the second tier to the biggest stage in European football… 

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez celebrates his first goal for City.

A first Foxes goal… 

Mahrez joined the Club in the middle of a tense promotion challenge, with the Foxes perched top of the table. 

After the occasional substitute appearance for Pearson’s table-toppers, Mahrez’s impact was first felt during a nervy 2-2 draw at local rivals Nottingham Forest in February. 

Despite Jamie Vardy giving City the lead, they later trailed 2-1 with Paul Konchesky also being sent off at the City Ground. 

After Kevin Phillips’ 82nd minute penalty was saved by Karl Darlow, up stepped Mahrez to capitalise on the rebound, levelling the scores and sending the visiting fans into raptures. 

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez celebrating during a crucial victory away at Hull City.

To Hull and back… 

Leicester City’s first Premier League season in a decade wasn’t going to plan. 

Pearson’s men travelled to Hull City - direct relegation rivals - on a 13-game winless run, six points adrift of safety and looking the most likely side in the top flight to sink to the Championship. 

In what was a proverbial ‘six-pointer’ at KCOM Stadium, Steve Bruce’s Tigers stifled their visitors during an incredibly fraught affair, with neither side cracking in defence. 

That was until Mahrez found room to manoeuvre, however, cutting inside his man and lashing City to a vital 1-0 victory in East Yorkshire. 

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Hat-trick hero Riyad Mahrez after the Foxes' win at Swansea City in 2015.

A hat-trick on the Welsh coast… 

The following season saw City turn English football’s top tier upside down, quite literally. 

While Mahrez had already made the world sit up, his December hat-trick during a 3-0 success over Swansea propelled Leicester to the top of the Premier League standings – less than a year after sitting bottom. 

Neutrals were waiting for the Foxes to trip up, but it never happened. Mahrez headed City in front after five minutes, fired in for his second and finished off an incisive counter-attack to seal his first ever career hat-trick.

Next up for Ranieri’s surprise leaders, a visit of Chelsea to Filbert Way… 

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez twists, turns and fires in against Chelsea in 2015/16.

“Good enough and great enough…” 

“… to score an outstanding goal!” Those were the words of Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler as City overcame Chelsea in breathtaking fashion at a rocking King Power Stadium.

This was supposed to be the game in which Leicester’s unexpected title challenge stalled and normal order was restored at the summit, but that was far from what unfolded.

Mahrez’s guile to dance past César Azpilicueta was bettered only by his perfectly-placed finish to evade Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal. A truly memorable – and significant – moment for the Club.

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez celebrates after netting against Manchester City in February 2016.

The goal that made us believe

Many consider his sensational solo effort at Etihad Stadium as one of the most significant goals in the 2015/16 title race.

Already 0-1 up thanks to Robert Huth’s opener, Mahrez scooped the ball over the challenging Nicolás Otamendi and glided past Martín Demichelis before hammering in.

Huth headed home a second of the game to make it 0-3 and while Sergio Agüero bagged a consolation, the Argentine’s goal would not take the shine off a win that made the whole world sit up and take notice.

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez lifts the 2015/16 Premier League trophy.

The Algerian king 

Saturday 7 May, 2016 – the greatest day in Leicester City’s history. 

During the week before, the international press had flocked to the East Midlands to cover an event they described as the greatest sporting fable of all time, an achievement which Mahrez played a major role in. 

Empires fell, stars dulled and Leicester, of all clubs, capitalised to lift the most prestigious title in English football, with Andrea Bocelli’s Nessun Dorma still ringing in their ears. 

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez converts his free-kick against Club Brugge in City's debut Champions League match.

A famous European night

A vintage summer was just fading into autumn, but Leicester City’s astonishing ability to prove their critics wrong continued with a stunning 3-0 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League. 

Their first-ever game on football’s top table was expected to be a tense affair, but following Marc Albrighton’s opener, Mahrez swung his magic wand in the air once more. 

He started by scoring a brilliant free-kick, doubling City’s lead, before adding another from the spot as the sun set over the cobbled streets of Bruges. 

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Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez scores past Hugo Lloris at Wembley.

A fitting goodbye 

While Claude Puel’s men were unfortunate to suffer a 5-4 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of 2017/18 at Wembley, it was another majestic performance from a familiar source of wizardry in the capital. 

First laying it up perfectly for Vardy to open the scoring, the Algerian then rattled it past Hugo Lloris to restore City’s advantage, giving the visiting Foxes faithful one last glimpse of his talents. 

Mahrez ended the 2017/18 campaign with 13 goals, bettered only by Vardy – a fitting send off for one of the Club’s most important-ever players.

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