Just a year ago Leicester City was a mediocre club coming from the English Premier league. Who knew that a year later that same team would record 3 wins out of 3 games in their first EVER UEFA Champions league campaign? Well, according to their manager, the Italian Claudio Ranieri, they plan to make it to the last 16 of the most elite competition, and so far they have been doing a great job.
Their last „victim“ was the Danish Champion FC Copenhagen who visited the Foxes at King Power Stadium on Wednesday night in the 3rd leg of the Group G.
Both teams were unbeaten prior to this match and were holding the top 2 positions of the group, ahead of the groups’ favorite Porto, but what was more interesting was the fact that both teams showed an extremely high level of maturity and competitive spirit thus far, as if they were a regular Champions league participant.
However, despite their successful campaign in the Champions league, the defending English league champion has been struggling in the domestic league, holding only the 13th spot with only 8 points from 8 matches. On the other side, Copenhagen is at the Top of the Danish Superliga with 29 points from 13 matches. Their visit to the King Power Stadium was the 5th time they have played the English clubs and so far they have not recorded a single win.
Here is how the Coaches decided to start the match:
Leicester City starting lineup: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Drinkwater, King, Albrighton, Mahrez; Vardy, Slimani
FC Copenhagen starting lineup: Olsen; Ankersen, Jorgensen, Johansson, Augustinsson; Kvist, Delaney, Verbic, Toutouh; Santander, Cornelius
The referee Nicola Rizzoli (Italy) was appointed in charge for the match.
Right from the get go, the visitors, FC Copenhagen came out strong, as if they were the hosting team, taking the possession of the ball.
However, Jamie Vardy, who by the way has been struggling to find the back of the net since August, decided to fire a shot towards the goal, but his shot was denied as the visiting goalkeeper Olsen, sends the ball to the corner. Both team were slowly building their attacks, not allowing their opponent to break free for a counter attack. It was noticeable that Jamie Vardy came out with a strong desire to score as he was the most active of all player creating scoring chances in the 33rd minute and once again, couple of minutes later, but the alert defense of Copenhagen and their goalkeeper Olsen were on the right spot to deny the change of the result.
Just as we thought the first half would come to its end without any major excitement, Jamie Vardys cross in the middle connected with Islam Slimani who jumped over the back of Copenhagen’s defenders, only to provide a lovely pass in the middle for Mahrez, who had no problems of finding the back of the net from a close range. It was 1:0 for the home side in the 40th minute!!!
Just before the half-way mark, the visitors had a nice opportunity to level the score, as Cornelius reacted well just inside the box, but his shot went just over the bar, and the score remained 1:0 for the Foxes!!!
The hosts opened the second half with a nice chance to score but Riyad Mahrez was unable to connect with the ball perfectly after Jamie Vardy found him inside the box. However, his shot went well over the bar into the stands.
The Foxes continued to build attacks as they came out of the locker rooms looking much more determined to score the second goal.
In the 64th minute it was the Foxes again who were in a good position to score. Schmeichel directed a long ball across the pitch, which connected to Mahrez on the other side. After a lovely solo run, in which he passed couple of defenders, Mahrez fired a weak shot which was blocked and he wasted a good opportunity to score his 2nd goal of the match. Only 3 minutes later the hosts finally scored their 2nd goal of the match through Slimani. However the goal was disallowed as the referee’s assistant signaled for an offside. It was a very poor decision by the referee, as it was clear from the reply that Slimani was in line with the defense before the Albrightons cross.
In the last 10 minutes, Copenhagen found the last atoms of their energy and pushed forward in hope to score. They came close to score in the closing minutes, as Santander headed the ball in the back of the net, but it was denied in the last moments by Simpson. In the last attack the hosts’ goalkeeper Schmeichel, who has not been too busy during this match, pulled off a wonderful save to deny Cornelius to score from close range and the score remained 1:0!!!
With all being said, the spectators at the King Power Stadium can be happy with the performance of both teams, especially the home fans who are still living their dream in the Champions League as their teams is still going strong and on their way to secure the second round of the competition.
After the 3rd leg, here are the standings in Group G:
- Leicester has 9 points
- Porto has 4 points
- Copenhagen has 4 points
- Club Brugge has 0 points