Leicester & Mahrez take Champions League by storm

Dilly ding, dilly dong! Leicester & Mahrez take Champions League by storm
The Algeria international netted twice as the Foxes cruised to a straightforward win over Club Brugge to mark their competition debut with a memorable victory

Forget the Premier League – the Champions League is where it is at for Leicester City this season. Following their early struggles in defending their domestic crown, the Foxes finally showed up on the biggest stage the club has ever had the privilege of playing on.
They certainly were a little fortunate, with Club Brugge proving the perfect hosts in allowing the Leicester fairytale to continue for a further chapter. Two defensive errors from the Belgian champions allowed Claudio Ranieri’s side to get themselves into a comfortable position well before half-time, and a third finished the match as a contest after the break.
First Lucas Hernandez’s long-throw was flicked over the top of goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle by his own defender, allowing Marc Albrighton to steal in at the back post and net a historic first goal in Europe’s premier club competition for the King Power Stadium outfit.
Just over 20 minutes later, Jamie Vardy displayed his typical tenacity to latch onto a misplaced pass along the Brugge backline and win a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Riyad Mahrez stepped up, and with the ball nestling into the top corner, the 1,400 travelling supporters were understandably in dreamland.
Mahrez added a third from the penalty spot in the second period after another misplaced pass led to Vardy being tripped inside the box by Butelle, and if teams on the continent were not already aware of Leicester’s quality then they certainly will be now.
Only winning the Champions League would replicate the scenes that accompanied securing the Premier League title last term, and though even Leicester’s most ardent supporters would admit that is almost impossible for them this term, there is a belief that they can still mix it with Europe’s good and great over the coming season. The feeling is the club will eventually prioritise the competition if their Premier League form continues to falter, and results such as this will only help make that an easier decision for Ranieri.
Brugge do not quite pose the same threat of fellow group opponents Porto or the sides Leicester would likely come up against should they qualify for the knockout stages, but the way in which they were dispatched is certainly encouraging heading into their remaining five matches in Group G. It certainly was not the best performance Ranieri has mustered from his team since taking over in the summer of 2015, but most importantly they improved on what was an uncharacteristic showing against Liverpool on Saturday.
Perhaps most pleasing was the performance of Mahrez, who has yet to reach the same heights of his PFA Player of the Season-winning campaign of 2015-16 in the early weeks of this term. But, having committed himself to the Foxes with a new contract in a bid to prove himself in European football before making the next step in his career, the winger looked back to his old self.
His stunning free-kick to make it 2-0 capped a performance full of his usual tricks and flicks, and with compatriot Islam Slimani making his debut up front, there was a clear understanding between the duo in the final third. He was even able to convert a spot-kick having missed three of his previous four efforts from 12 yards, and if he can maintain those levels then the Foxes could yet cause more shocks as they make their way around the continent.

For now, Leicester will just be happy that they have got over any opening night nerves in such thrilling fashion. The Champions League might have to start rewriting its usual scripts while Ranieri and his team are still around.